My favorite post-Christmas ritual

Every holiday season we receive, oh, 30-40 Christmas cards. Almost all of them are of the standard modern variety—pictures of the kids with a caption reading BLESSINGS FOR A WONDERFUL YEAR or something along those lines. The wife and I tend to hang them in the kitchen, above the stove. We both like the tradition.

Ultimately, the cards come down. This used to be quite the bummer for me, because it symbolized the end of good times and the beginning of a cold, dark series of months. I mean, I truly hate January and February in New York; the same way I hate cabbage and the sound of two forks rubbing. Then, last year, I found a way to make things better.

Much better.

We were at a friend’s house, and his holiday cards were piled on a table. I looked through them, and spotted one of a couple with their dog. “Can I have this?” I said.

“Uh, sure,” he replied. “Why?”

“I’m gonna send it to my sister in law,” I said.

He smiled.

That night, I placed the card in an envelope and had someone else write Leah’s address on the envelope. I stuck a stamp, dropped it in the slot—and sorta forgot about it.

•••

One week later, we’re on our annual family ski trip. It’s cold as hell, and I’m miserable. “The weirdest thing happened to me,” she says.

I perk up.

“I got this card in the mail, from Jim and Julie Stanley. I have no idea who these people are. I Googled them, I looked through my contacts. It’s them with a dog. They wrote something about ‘Hope to see me soon …'”

The wife is sitting next to me. She is bursting at the seams. She r-e-a-l-l-y wants to laugh. I nudge her in the ribs.

“That’s so weird …” I say.

“I know,” she said. “I’m losing my mind here. Who are these people.”

Eventually, against my will, the wife tells her.

Magic.

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