Christmas Wins and Losses.

I fell victim to one of the classic blunders.  The most famous of which is “never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line,” but only slightly less well-known is this: “Never trust Etsy with the timely distribution of your Christmas Cards.”

The first twenty-nine steps of Christmas Card Creation were the easy ones.

I won’t bore you with the next fifty-one steps of pain and anguish, but it culminated yesterday morning with me in a deeply troubling pit of despair.  A pit in which I had to use my normal, boring, black-inked return address stamp rather than my gold ink pad and the pretty, fancy, customized stamp that I ordered from an artist on Etsy eighteen days ago.

(For which, by the way, after realizing that the Etsy Artist was going to take the full 7 days of her “2 to 7 day” window AND that those 7 days meant business days, I finally paid an extortion fee of $15 to get two-day shipping.  It has now been nine days since it was shipped and my stamp has yet to arrive.)

And so, after my laboriously addressed, stamped, and sealed cards sat on my kitchen table for an extra five days while awaiting their proper return address, I sweated, paced, and put all of my hopes and dreams into the United States Postal Service.  One cannot explain the deep-seated anxiety that can be caused by something as ridiculous as a non-arriving return-address stamp and the resulting last-minute mailing of Christmas Cards, but it exists, people – it exists.

So at this point, I know that I should bring it all around with an uplifting message about how I realized that fancy return address stamps are not what Christmas is all about as Schroeder plays the piano softly in the background of my monologue, but my heart still fills with angst every time I think about That Stamp that now has no purpose in my life (I’ve pondered having a baby just for the opportunity to send out birth announcements,) so perhaps that sentiment wouldn’t be so genuine at this particular moment.

Instead, I’ve decided to document this year’s Christmas Wins and Losses in a weak attempt to make myself feel better about the strenuous pressures that unfortunately is an American Christmas.

(On that note, I’m considering moving to Madagascar before next Christmas.  Surely I won’t be fretting about return address stamps there, right?  I hope not, since my super-special one would no longer be accurate.)

WIN:  Pretty addressing.  I decided to try my hand at creating my own handwriting “fonts.”  There was something extraordinarily therapeutic about the practice of actually writing for a change.

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(Of course I didn’t really mail a card to the Claus Family – but I assumed that none of my real recipients wanted their address posted here.)

WIN:  Finding a fun stamp at Michael’s to dress up the boring white envelopes.

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LOSS:  The aforementioned Etsy Debacle.  There’s always next year.  Unless I move to Madagascar.

LOSS:  Gift-Buying.  You know those last few people on your list for which you have no ideas?  They drove me insane this year, and some are still outstanding.  I am thirty-one years old and am completely out of original ideas.

WIN: Making a last-minute decision to take on holiday baking with Ali, thereby giving me something to give to some of those distressingly hard to buy for people.

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Christmas Baking

LOSS:  Forgetting that I also have a two-year-old.  A two-year-old that has recently discovered the joys of continuously repeating, “PLAY, Mommy!  Let’s go!  Play Mommy!  This way!”

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WIN:  My mother coming over to play with Noah while Ali and I baked.

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We managed to bake four treats together:  Deep Dark Fudgy Cookies, Soft Butter Mints, Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fudge, and Oreo Truffles (aka Johnny Macs.)

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LOSS: Kitchen Cleanliness.  If you ever see a blogger’s photos of their kitchen while making sweets and it’s not completely ravaged, they’re lying to you.

Messy Kitchen

LOSS:  Pretty wrapping paper.  I set the bar too high last year and have no motivation to compete with myself.  Because I am thirty-one years old and out of original ideas.

WIN: Gift Labels.  Ali and I made this super simple sign the other day using thumbprints and sharpies,

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which led to the idea of using the same technique for labels (and allowing Ali to practice her new favorite hobby, “fancy writing”):

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LOSS:  We might have made the labels, but that present is totally staged.  I haven’t wrapped yet.

What were your Christmas wins and losses this year?

Leave your comment below!

Comments

  1. 1
    Tarin says:

    Etsy stamp: that’s shocking! If I were you, I’d file a claim with Etsy, this “business” seems fraudulent. I got a return address stamp from Bear Rubber Stamps on Etsy within 4 days, unfortunately I had already sent out my Christmas cards, but there’s always a need for a return address stamp. :D

    Gift idea for all those “extra” people- goat milk soaps, unless of course it’s a guy, in which case I’m no help. Baked goods are always a safe option, looks like you and Ali had a great time making them.

    • 1.1
      Rachel says:

      I got my stamp Friday afternoon – too late to use, obviously. I decided I’d leave negative feedback since I specifically stated I wanted 2 day shipping (twice!!) and she just got priority mail (which took 8 days).

      Buuuut…. it seemed pretty chincy to leave negative feedback right before Christmas, so I’ll wait until later this week. Happy New Year! ;)

  2. 2
    Amanda says:

    What pen did you use for the addresses? I have a hard time picking the correct writing utensil for the job. :)

    • 2.1
      Rachel says:

      I used a Sharpie for the bold lines (but it had to be a brand new fresh sharpie – not ones that the points were dull), and a Pilot PreciseGrip Bold for the thinner lines.

  3. 3
    Wendy Clark says:

    I tried to get all fancy with my addressing also this year. Yours looks lots better though. So sorry about the address stamp, but just think of all the fun letters you can write just so you can use your stamp. Everyone loves to get a real letter in the mail. You may start a new trend.

    Merry Christmas to your family!

  4. 4
    Terram says:

    I’ll totally share my last minute gift idea from 2011 – jar cookies. Specifically, this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/cranberry-hootycreeks/detail.aspx I’m a cookie aficionado (I make at least a batch a week) and these are some of the best ones I’ve had. They were such a hit that some of the recipients are making them as gifts this year. Easy, inexpensive, pretty and good for anyone who can even remotely cook. Good luck! (And I LOVE your tags and the stamps on your envelopes. Can I steal those ideas for next year?)

    • 4.1
      Rachel says:

      Those are awesome! I didn’t have time to get that together, but someone else commented on your comment with thanks for the idea! I may have to try this next time.

  5. 5
    Danielle says:

    You are better than me! I print labels for all my Christmas cards. No handwriting addresses here!
    My big fail this year (heck every year) was cut-out cookies. Every year my cut-outs look like blobs instead of stockings, trees, etc. And I get so frustrated with it and the girls I end up yelling and no one has fun. So I got the bright idea to try making cookie dough from scratch but it didn’t come out good (I guess a few of my ingredients were bad) To tell you how often I bake from scratch, apparently my baking powder expired in 2003! Opps!! Ran to the store and just got the rolls of dough we usually use. Got some cookies cut and dropped the entire cookie sheet on the floor. Started over and the cookies came out as blobs again.
    My win: I gave up and we just rolled the dough into balls and dipped them in colored sugar crystals. The girls had fun, we spent time together and we have some yummy cookies. And we had time to play Uno and watch a movie afterwards.

  6. 6
    Jaime says:

    Those addresses are covered in awesome sauce!
    I have had 3-4 bad deals on Etsy and my first was the same situation … “I need a few more days.” “It’s in the mail.” and finally “The Etsy shop you are looking for no longer exists.” Needless to say, filing a claim when you realize the business has gone down in flames is pointless.
    LOVE that the present was staged for the blog post. I just let my kids wrap them this year. It’s “cute” and I don’t have to admit how much I despise wrapping because I insist on nothing less than perfection.

  7. 7
    Leanna says:

    I don’t have too many wins right now.

    Loss- Still haven’t done any shopping , but I to be fair my family only gives gifts to the kids and we have their gifts. I still have to shop for my adopted families (best friends).

    Win- Successfully crocheting gifts for my nephews.

    Loss- still have some baking to do.

    Win- Actually helping my nephew with his advent calendar. He loves trying to figure out what the next sticker is, and loves the bible verse that corresponds to sticker

    Loss- realizing that for the second time in 2 years I am probably going to lose one of pets at the holidays and trying to come to terms with it and not completely hate the holidays.

  8. 8
    Cara says:

    I’ve had a few wins this year:
    Win 1- Actually sent out Christmas cards!
    Loss 1- Didn’t event attempt stamp or other pretty calligraphy. Just my crappy handwriting and very special people got a cow with a santa hat I was sent from Heifer Intl in the hope I would give them money (I did)
    Win 2- Decided to get creative, hand-put-together baskets of Colorado goodies for in-laws!
    Loss 2- Have no idea how I’m going to get it all on the plane (6 bottles of wine? What was I thinking?)
    Win 3- Have bought all Christmas gifts
    Loss 3- My gifts to my husband make it look like I’m not-so-subtly telling him he needs to work out more (he WANTS that stuff! I swear!)
    Win 4- Have cute Christmas jammies for baby
    Loss 4- They will be WAY to warm for her to wear in Houston where we’ll be on Christmas
    Win 5-infinity- Got first hand-made ornament from baby’s daycare. Little reindeer with her painted fingerprints on it. BEST GIFT EVER!

  9. 9
    Kelley says:

    So sorry to hear about your bad experience on Etsy! You should leave that seller some honest feedback.

    But I really like what you did with your envelopes. The handwritten font and the stamp look very cool!

  10. 10
    Shelly says:

    Big thanks to Terram. I am so making those jar cookies for my mom. She is so hard to buy for. And, thank you for my Christmas card. You are a beautiful family!

  11. 11
    Heather Woosley says:

    We LOVE our card and I saved the envelope especially. :o)
    Merry Christmas!

  12. 12
    Jennifer M. says:

    Well, let me say that your card arrived in yesterday’s mail and it is excellent for a whole lot of reasons. First, it arrived before Christmas and you weren’t convinced it would; second, the photos are absolutely fabulous; and third, the envelope is so lovely and what a neat idea — the lettering’s great, but I never even thought of a festive stamp!; and finally, I think it’s really cool that you exchange Christmas cards with blogger friends and I am tickled to be on that list. (Okay, so I totally said I wanted to exchange cards, but I still think it’s cool!)
    As for successes and failures, you can decide whether it’s a success or failure that we’ve not eaten one meal at home in the past ten days. Not one. Take-out and restaurants have been our MO. It is definitely a failure that we’ve not made any cookies yet this year and very likely will NOT make any cookies this year … which stinks, because I LOVE to make cookies — but between moving and working full time right through Friday, I’m just not feeling it this year. Maybe we’ll make “Christmas in March” cookies. :) But it’s a rocking success that we’re not stressed, that the tree is up and decorated, and the kids are counting the seconds ’til Santa comes. They are just at the perfect ages and I am treasuring this Christmas I think even a little extra this year.

    • 12.1
      Rachel says:

      Yes, I didn’t do baking for our neighbors like I wanted to – I was considering January baking. Because everyone always has too much baked goods around the holidays anyway, right???

  13. 13
    Elizabeth says:

    I didn’t do Christmas cards this year. I still haven’t even purchased my Christmas pictures from November. Sad but true. I didn’t buy gifts, and after lighting the grease in the roasting pan on fire four years back, I told my brother to bring a Honey Baked Turkey. I have since learned to properly roast turkeys, but that is another matter (major Loss that year!). You’re brave putting your faith in the USPS.

  14. 14
    Qoumidan says:

    Win: Lots of family that is full of love gathered at my aunt’s house.
    Loss: My 3yr old boy pooped behind my aunt’s Christmas tree. Diarrhea poop:(

    • 14.1
      Rachel says:

      That is…wow. Just wow. You poor thing!

      Please tell me your Aunt isn’t the kind of Aunt that has white carpet.

      • Qoumidan says:

        Fortunately, it is medium blue, 20 yrs old, already has a large bleach spot from her husband, and the spot my son pooped is normally occupied by a couch. Also she is very good-natured. I am very relieved that I have nice family.

  15. 15
    April S. says:

    Loved your handwriting on your envelopes. No way I could do that! I also had every intention of making those butter mints but never got around to it! I’m not sure I like the day Christmas fell this year.

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