I'm a purist when it comes to sending out Christmas cards. Instead of cutting back, my list grows like Pinocchio's nose.
The post office loves people like me. I keep them in business with just the postage alone, never mind the photo shop where my cards are made and the stationery department where the folders are purchased.
Add it all up and it's a tidy sum, but it's my personalized Christmas gift to 247 receivers this year. Not all of them return the favor.
Judging from my experiences over the past 45 years since my fetish with cards began, the worst Christmas crisis occurs when a family mixes up the lists of those who sent Christmas cards last year and those who didn't.
What makes the occasion rather special is the photograph I've taken and the personal message that's inscribed.
This year's motif shows a monastery scene taken two years ago during a return trip to Armenia. I was struck by the beauty of snow-covered mountains in May which lent a rather awe-inspiring accent to the scene at St. Datev's Church.
Sorry I didn't get to include the precise location of my subject. After two weeks of preparation in mid-November, my hand became shaped like a claw from so much writing, and my tongue stuck to my lips from licking so many envelopes.
Maybe I'm overdoing it just a bit. Sure, I get less than 50 percent returns, but it's always nice to send out something personal, especially when friends and relatives get to expect it.
The typical family sends out about 50 cards. Thirty-five go out before Christmas and another 15 just after to those you've forgotten. I never would have expected a card from a funeral director after pre-planning our burial because we didn't want to burden the children.