Selecting the right holiday greeting cards is a little more complicated than it used to be.
When I went to the store to buy mine, I found a special that enabled me to buy three boxes of Christmas cards for the price of two with my handy-dandy scannable supermarket device.
But, in addition to the boxed cards that have the same picture and message, I buy some cards one at a time because I think they will appeal to certain individuals.
Some of the funny cards will be appreciated by some of my friends who have a warped sense of humor. These messages would not be appreciated by other friends of mine.
I just have to remember not to put the ribald cards in the wrong envelopes.
You see, if you have a long Christmas card address list, writing and addressing cards becomes a routine with a pattern and a rhythm to it. If you put yourself on autopilot, you could make a mistake.
You also have to remember who would and would not appreciate cards with religious themes.
Some of my friends are devout Christians. Others are atheists or agnostics who were raised Christian but who have come to wrestle with some philosophical questions about the existence of a higher power in their adult years.
This is not about political correctness. This is about respecting everyone’s individual belief system and wanting to wish them well at this special time of the year without offending their sensibilities.
It just means you have to put a little extra time, thought and energy into the process of sending holiday greetings.
For example, I saw what I thought was a hilarious Hanukkah card at the supermarket. It retold the Hanukkah story in a modern, stand-up comic sort of way.
The problem was that it mentioned things like Chinese food, Jewish mothers and accountants and lawyers. These are characterizations that have helped some Jewish comics, not to mention Fran Drescher when “The Nanny” was in production, have productive careers.
But if I, as a Gentile, send that card to someone who’s Jewish, how will it be interpreted? Will the recipient think I’m just another dumb “goy” full of anti-Semitic stereotypes?
I suppose it depends on the relationship I have with the recipient. But holiday greeting cards are supposed to communicate positive messages that make people smile, warm their hearts or make them chuckle.
The last thing any of us wants to do is to send a Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or nondescript “glad tidings to you” card that would make someone angry or unhappy.
My generation doesn’t call that political correctness. We call it good, old-fashioned common courtesy, and there’s not enough of it to go around these days.
So take some extra time this year to make sure your greeting card sends the right message. But if you screw up, remember that Hallmark makes “I’m sorry” cards too.