If you send a kid a Christmas card …
(In the style of "If You Give a Mouse A ...," with apologies to Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond.)
If you send a kid a Christmas card, he'll oooh and aaah over the cute and cuddly present-clutching bear on the front even though cute and cuddly aren't his style.
He'll read the message inside, complete with "love" in the signature, and he'll aaah and ooh even though girls signed the card and "love" and "girls" are oxymorons in his 7-year-old world.
He'll then gasp at his family's social ineptitude and demand that you send cards in return.
You'll rummage through the garage in search of the box you bought two years ago - the one you couldn't find in November when it was time to send greetings to Afghanistan. You'll suggest that he make cards, but homemade pales in comparison to store-bought cute and cuddly bears.
You'll go to the PX, cautioning him and his brother that you're buying only one box. When one kid loves the Santa cards and the other opts for the more manly "glittery buck reindeer on a snowy hill," you buy two boxes anyway.
You'll warn them that the boxes don't belong to them just because they picked them out. When the older brother absconds with the manly reindeer cards, you'll have no choice but to turn Santa over to the other.
You'll caution that there are not enough cards in the 16 pack to send one to each classmate. When the brothers start writing classmates' names on envelopes, you'll run to the computer to make more cards. They'll proclaim them "beautiful" even though just hours earlier homemade was unacceptable.
One brother will decide that licking envelopes is "icky," and you'll remember that you have shiny gold stickers left over from your wedding invitations in 2001. You can't find them - they must be with the 2008 Christmas cards - but the brothers have a solution. They'll use the stickers from your desk. The red, white and blue ones imprinted with "USA 44."
You'll save your stamps just in the nick of time and return to the computer to make stickers from paper left from when nieces now in high school were kids. The other brother will then discover that envelopes are icky, and he'll need stickers for his friends, too. You'll go back to the computer.
They'll finish 20-some cards each, beam proudly and put them in bags in their backpacks to keep them nice for their friends. You'll beam, too, because the hours they spent toiling over the greetings easily add up to a week's worth of homework time that they would have growled about had it been actual assigned homework.
Then the older brother will remember that he'd neglected to write a card for the family that triggered this whole chain of events. Thank heaven there's a manly reindeer one left. He'll sign his name, "sincerely" but no "love," and carries the card next door.
Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.