A Household Word
Greetings Earthlings
 Last year, I didn’t send out any holiday greeting cards. It’s one of my favorite traditions, but I was busy doing other important stuff. Like standing in line at the Gap, untangling miles of Christmas lights and looking for tape so I could get the cat hair off my black velvet pants. Besides, I couldn’t find a card that I liked.
 It’s not easy. Especially because our family address book has the names of friends and relatives who celebrate one or more of the winter holidays including Hanukkah, Christmas, Ramadan and the winter solstice. Any card that we endorse has to be almost neutral and entirely politically correct.

 That means no images of mangers or wise men bearing gifts. Menorahs are out, so are schnauzers in Santa suits, reindeer, angels, candy canes, pine trees, stockings, six-pointed stars, five-pointed stars and anything red and green or blue and white. Still, the card must be meaningful with an uplifting message and printed, preferably, on 100-percent recycled paper. It’s a tall order for a card.

 This year, I decided that I’d start early and find the perfect card. I looked at the selection in Wal-Mart and at the local Hallmark shop, but none conformed to my stringent standards. The cards with serenely snowy winter landscapes on the outside had overtly religious proclamations on the inside. The ones that contained sentiments that I support featured schmaltzy illustrations and photos of schnauzers in Santa caps.

Sending e-mail cards began to have some appeal. I’d save money on postage and I could wait until the last minute to send them out. But not everyone in my address book has a computer, and I’m sure that many of my friends would see the attachment, note that it was from me, and assume it was a virus.

 I thought about bringing a snapshot of our family to the local camera store and having them make that into a card. But I couldn’t find any pictures where I didn’t look fat.

P class=MsoNormal>I toyed with having a new photo taken, but my 8-year-old won’t appear in any picture without wearing his Halloween ninja costume.

P class=MsoNormal> I even considered dashing off one of those generic “Dear Friends” letters and describing our fabulous vacations, the kids’ academic accomplishments and our huge success in the stock market, but I’m a lousy liar. Besides, those letters are usually tucked into a card and that was the problem to begin with.

P class=MsoNormal> A Creative Solution

P class=MsoNormal>Then, I thought of the ideal solution. My kids could make the cards! They would color and cut and paste and I’d send adorable custom-made cards that would not only wish our friends and relations a happy whatever, but would also highlight the artistic talents of my offspring.

P class=MsoNormal> I bought a supply of neutral-toned recycled construction paper, dragged out the art supplies and encouraged the children to exercise their creativity. But after two pictures of a tyrannosaurus rex eating a ninja and a half-hearted attempt at drawing SpongeBob SquarePants, the kids lost interest in card-making and I was left with a stack of blank beige notepaper and a dining room table smeared with glitter glue.

P class=MsoNormal> “Come down here and finish these cards,” I yelled upstairs to my children.

P class=MsoNormal>“I’m tired of drawing,” said the 8-year-old.

P class=MsoNormal>“Then concentrate on writing something inside the cards,” I suggested. “Practice your cursive.”

P class=MsoNormal>To keep their attention the message had to be short, easy to spell and still adhere to the Band family greeting card criteria (see paragraph 2). I thought for a while – and then it hit me.

There is only one thought that makes sense this season. There is only one wish this year. And it doesn’t matter if it comes in a card with a picture of a menorah, a mosque, a schnauzer in a Santa suit or even with a drawing of SpongeBob SquarePants.

From our family to yours, Peace on Earth.

Carol Band is a United Parenting Publications columnist. She and her family celebrate their winter holidays in New England.

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