I finally ventured out of the nest and got an apartment with some friends for the first time when I was twenty-two. That first Christmas, my parents would open their personal Christmas cards and find them addressed to each member of our family – including me.
“Maybe I should send my own card to…” I squinted at the name scrawled at the bottom of the card. “Aunt Muffy.” I borrowed my mother’s address book and looked for family and friends I knew, because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out who Aunt Muffy was and how we were related to her. Nonetheless, I thought it was good etiquette to let them know I had gotten a place of my own and that any correspondence for me should be sent directly my way.
The next day, I started writing out my cards. For the first time, I got to pick the design I most liked, the greeting I most related to, and I even got to break in my brand new address labels. It was a full three weeks before Christmas, so I thought I was ahead of the game. This independence, out on my own stuff wasn’t so bad!
I sent out approximately twenty-five cards that first year. Half had already sent a card with my name to my mother. Another few sent a card to my address. “We didn’t know you moved out! Good luck!” Unfortunately, a few came back marked “Return to Sender”. Aunt Muffy didn’t know how we were related either, apparently.
The next year, I picked a new card, a new greeting, and new address labels. I also decided to get an envelope imprint, having settled comfortably into my first apartment by this point. A week went by, then another. I was beginning to wonder if I’d forgotten to put stamps on the envelopes when my mother called me.
“We got some Christmas cards today. Your name is on all of them.”
The same people who’d wished me luck on my venturing out of the nest last year had already forgotten I’d ventured at all. There was my name, right next to my brother’s, in the family card. No personal Christmas card for me!
As time has passed, my Christmas card list has changed. I’m not so worried about those family members who will always see me as my parents’ daughter. I have a new group of people to send to: friends and colleagues. And just think – someday, I’ll forget to send their kids their own card when they move out, too!