Writing Holiday Cards Is Making Me Hate Everyone I Know


A number of years ago, I decided that I was absolutely hilarious and it was very important that all of my friends and family be made aware of this. My lightening bolt of inspiration struck on a snowy Christmas afternoon, when after constructing a Calvin and Hobbes inspired snowman scene in my father’s backyard, I was so taken with my craftsmanship, I determined it had to be made available to the public. Thus, I was thrust into a special kind of holiday hell: the Christmas card.

Naively, I thought what better way to share my handiwork than as a photo, in a letter, to everyone I know? It was perfect. Of course I could have just posted a picture of my abominable masterpiece on Facebook, but that would have been all like “Hey! Look at me! I’m funny!”

By sending it as a season’s greeting, I was able to mask my desperate need for attention and praise by pretending I was doing something thoughtful. Two birds, one stone type of deal. So that’s exactly what I did.

I waited patiently for a whole year with my fantastic Christmas picture, not showing anyone and giggling to myself the whole time. Then come December 1st, BAM! I had these beauties printed up:


I was so proud of myself, I was crying the entire way back from the photo shop. From laughter. I couldn’t stop looking at them. This was going to be the best Christmas card ever and everyone was going to love me.

But then came the actual task of writing out thirty-five individual and equally entertaining messages. After the third one I was exhausted. My hand was sweaty and cramping up. I ran out of material pretty quickly, so I began copying what was written in one card, onto the next. But even that became overwhelming and by the time I reached the last of them, I was pretty much just yelling at the recipient, letting them know what hard work all of this was and “What the hell do you expect? I don’t recall getting anything from you in the mail over the last few years, so get off my case!” However, I kept my spirits up, thinking about how impressed all my friends were going to be.

Dropping them in the mail was exciting, yet stressful. I’m the type of person who will send a text message that I think is hysterical and if I don’t get a response within six minutes, telling me how awesome I am, I’ll send a follow up saying “Hello!! Did you get my text??” So you can imagine how hard it was, to think I was going to have to wait at least twenty-four hours before the applause began rolling in. When I pictured it, I was much like an actress accepting an academy award and I started thinking of all the things I could say to appear modest and make it seem like sending the cards was really just an after-thought of a clever picture.

When a couple of days went by and my phone wasn’t ringing off the hook, I was baffled. I tried remembering all of the different messages I had crafted, to see if I could think of anyone who may have been offended by them. Then I wondered if anyone was offended by the card itself? Then I thought “Well screw that person if they can’t take a joke!” Then I became furious with everyone I had ever known. The whole undertaking, a year in the making, was a big flop!

I’m not going to say no one got back to me. There were definitely some people who reached out to tell me how much they enjoyed my efforts, so I decided to give it another shot last year. Especially since there was a huge blizzard in 2010 which provided me with these incredible images! The 2011 card would be a hit for sure.

Blizzard 2010

Well if it was, I didn’t know about it! Where the hell were all those cousins I hadn’t seen in years, coming out of the woodwork to let me know how amazing I was? I had to blame my mother for this whole debacle. Maybe if she hadn’t spent so many years telling me how special I was, I wouldn’t be in this holy mess. Maybe I could just send a Christmas card without expecting Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ award. So that’s what I tried to do this year…

Holiday Card This Year

…however, I had zero enthusiasm when I was writing them out. I did it in front of the TV, with a bottle of wine, sometimes barely getting the spelling of the receiver’s name right. In fact I’m pretty sure I spelled my mom’s wrong. Which is what she gets!

Then I included this wallet sized photo of my cat, to get back at everyone who made me look at their kids all year.

The Kitty

Which is healthy because now it seems I’m actively seeking revenge in my cards.

So I guess what I’ve learned is that you shouldn’t expect a thank you card in response to your Christmas cards. That’s not really how it works. I’m kind of getting the impression that most people take a quick glance at them, think “that’s cute” and then throw them in the trash. Maybe it was a little silly to expect that mine would be bronzed and displayed in my family’s living rooms.

There has been one really nice thing about this whole process though. Now, every December, I find my mailbox is full of warm wishes from people I hadn’t otherwise communicated with on a regular basis. Because I’ve taken the time to show them that they’re important to me, they’ve included me on the list of people who are special to them. And that makes me feel good.

It kind of makes me think that writing holiday cards is more about taking an opportunity to reach out to the ones you love in order to let them know that they still hold a place in your heart, and NOT about being recognized for your own genius.

Which is exactly why I’m not doing them next year.

Merry Christmas!

Especially to my mommy :)

  • Aunt Pat

    Just to make you feel better – thanks for the wonderful card. However I did not get a picture of your cat even though you mentioned it on the card. I kept looking for your cat among the trees. Aunt Carole showed me the picture which I can borrow whenever I want. Have a great Christmas and enjoy your trip. Love you…..

    • Kelly

      Oh it was no bother Aunt Pat, really :) I ran out of cat pictures! And after promising one in every card. Awful. I’m glad Carole offered to share. That was very generous of her since I would never allow mine off of my fridge. We have one hanging in the office as well. Merry Christmas! Love you too!

  • Oma

    O.K. Muffin here it comes…. thanks for the Amazing card,, sorry for those trees,; but to tell me the Cat Picture I should keep in my Wallet since I have no Pictures from you of my GREAT GRANDCHILDREN well that goes a little tooooo far. I like Cats but not that much.

    But I sincerely liked your last comment and I’m proud of you! I was not to greasy about writing cards this year, but then it hit me that with each card I was writing I remembered something nice and sometimes also funny and I smiled a lot.

  • Kelly

    Really, stop, you are all embarrassing me with your many compliments! Did that sound sincere? I’ve been practicing it for three years. And Oma, you should never be greasy when writing Christmas cards, you’ll never get the stamps on. Love you!

  • Gabriele

    Merry Christmas Kelly! I love you…and I know it’s not easy being you. Just so you know, your card is the only one I have on display. Kitty’s picture is on my refrige, but at risk of being clawed unmercifully, I quickly put up a picture of my own kitty…Minzie. I don’t even know if having your Kitty’s picture up is acceptable by Minzie. I’m so torn,do I cater to my daughter, or my kitty with the claws. They are both so temperamental!

    Love you,
    mommy :-)

  • Carole Kane

    glad to see your finally getting over your hangups.nice looking cat. have another great trip.

  • Auntie Nic

    How dare you…

  • Lloyd

    You’re awesome! Love your writing.

  • Risa

    You’re definitely doing better than me – the New Year’s cards that were supposed to arrive before I left for Barbara & Paul’s STILL have not arrived. (Neither have half the gifts I bought.)
    Totally adore the laser kitty, though. 😉

  • diane hagerty

    Hey Kelly,
    Since I am on vacation at GMs I have some free time to enjoy your blog. If we have a terrible winter this year I will hold you personally responsible. Anyway by the time you get this you will probabily be on your way to Berlin so I hope you have a great time and will look forward to all the pictures.

  • Michelle

    I’ve noticed that your messages on the back of the card have gotten smaller and smaller every year. Now this year, it was merely a couple of sentences with no wallet attached (not that I’m complaining since we both know how much I hate cats). Perhaps you are spending all your time on this blog writing and not allocating the correct amount of time towards your Christmas card writing? I must say, your card is front and center hanging on my wall if only for me to ask just about everybody who walks into my house, “do you get this card?” what is this? I think after about ten visitors (yes I do have that many friends;) we have decided it’s a blurry picture of trees hanging upside down? For somebody who travels to a different country just about every other week, one would think they have a great camera that takes pictures a bit clearer? Love you!

    • Kelly

      You nailed it. An yes, they were hanging Christmas trees. In the original photo they looked more like they had committed suicide, or had been strung up in a gallows type situation. But I lost that photo, and had to put this one through a number of filters just to get the image to where it was barely decipherable. Anyway, next year you can all just visit http://www.therheeldaze.com to see what horrible greeting I’ve come up with for 2014. Thanks for reading!

  • DQ

    No more Kelly Rheel XMas cards?? Well, Christmas 2014 can now be cancelled as far as i’m concnered……
    I mean, not that I don’t enjoy the scripted photos of all my friends childrens and pets that have no personal notes or well wishes on them…..I just enjoy yours much more since I acutally look foward with anticipation as to what obnoxious and/or funny banter you’ll include.

    • Kelly

      You’re definitely getting one. I have to make up for all of the Christmas’ you missed growing up, you poor thing! Plus, I am ridiculously susceptible to flattery and you have managed to stroke my ego well beyond what is required to receive a holiday card. See you in December 2013.

      • Dq

        Holy god,, I just realized we are ONLY in 2013, not 2014 and I used the term “childrens”. See how not celebrating Xmas throws everything off?? Regardless,, I’m getting another card in eleven months. WOOHOO!!

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