The 9 Circles of Holiday Card Hell
Circle 1 – Taking the family photo
Approximate time budget: 3 hours
Level of emotional distress: 8
In this circle of hell one of your kids will flat out refuse to wear what you’ve picked out for him, one will put it on, but accompany it with a permanent sullen facial expression and one will have already grown out of whatever you picked out 3 days prior. Your husband will sigh and roll his eyes like he’d rather be getting an enema and eventually you’ll break down and feverishly oscillate between murderous threats and doleful begging to get them all to stand together, pretend like they like each other and smile.
Circle 2 – Choosing which photo to use
Approximate time budget: 1 hour
Level of emotional distress: 5
The one photo where you look thin, your hair is cute and you’re smiling, pictures your husband scratching his nose, your youngest crossing his eyes and your middle son making that forced smile face that makes him look like a sociopath. In the one shot where everyone is looking in the general direction of the camera, there’s a shadow across your face that makes you look like you have a mustache. In this circle of hell, you must choose between those two.
Circle 3 – Uploading the photo to Costco’s website to create the card
Approximate time budget: 3 hours
Level of emotional distress: 7 (with a dash of murdery)
Everyone on the planet is trying to upload photos to the site and order their cards at the same minute you are. You have to sit at the computer and watch it try to upload because if you don’t keep it from going to sleep the application will time-out. You’re forced to start over 4 times. On the 4th time you tell your laptop you’re going to run it under the faucet it to teach it a lesson if it doesn’t upload the goddamn photo within the next 6 minutes. This seems to work, strengthening your suspicion the computer sometimes fucks with you just to be funny.
Circle 4 – Realizing you made an error on the card and trying desperately to cancel the order before they’ve been printed so you can redo it
Approximate time budget: 45 minutes
Level of emotional distress: 11
YOU CANNOT SEND HOLIDAY CARDS TO 225 PEOPLE WITH YOUR HUSBAND’S NAME MISSPELLED ON IT!!!!!
Circle 5 – Updating your address list
Approximate time budget: 8 hours
Level of emotional distress: 9 (emphasis on the humiliation and misery)
This is where you go through the list of people you sent cards to last year and try to guess who could have moved, changed marital status or ceased to be alive. Then you go through and individually Facebook message or email those who you think could potentially live somewhere new. Not only is it ridiculously time-consuming and tedious, but it brings to light people who have deleted their Facebook accounts or unfriended you, triggering a 2 hour shame spiral where you read all your old social media posts wondering which could have been the super offensive one that would make someone unfriend you or if it’s just that you talk too much in general, online. Then you drink a bottle of wine and try to convince yourself it’s ok if not everyone loves you.
Circle 6 – Merging your contacts with a program that will print labels
Approximate time budget: 2 hours
Level of emotional distress: 6
At this point you’re already drunk and depressed, so when you can’t remember how THE FUCK to make your contacts application put the names and addresses in the correct format, you’re not surprised. Most of the allotted time on this activity is spent refilling your glass and fighting with your husband because the particular Contacts application you’re using was his idea.
Circle 7 – Giving up and hand-addressing your cards
Approximate time budget: 12 hours
Level of emotional distress: 4
Eventually you become so frustrated with the computer and its insistence upon acting like an asshole that you decide you’ll show it and begin hand-addressing all of the cards. I can get these done tonight, you say to yourself. By the end of one hour you’ve addressed exactly 41 cards, you’re getting arthritis, and your handwriting looks like you let your 6 year old do them. You’re also pretty sure your laptop just gave you the finger and giggled when you turned around.
Circle 8 – Stuffing and licking
Approximate time budget: 6 hours
Level of emotional distress: 7
This shouldn’t take long! Headdesk.
Circle 9 – Delivering them to the post office
Approximate time budget: 30 minutes
Level of emotional distress: 26
It’s 4:55PM and if you get them to the post office today this whole nightmare will be over and you can move on to the next version of Hell: buying Christmas presents. With your children in the car you drive to the nearest post office and through that little one-way loop with the row of mailboxes. You pull up to the first one and start dumping cards in the box. The line behind you quickly stacks up, but you can only feed in like 5 at a time and then you have to run around back to grab more. As the car in front of you exits, you jump in the car and pull up to the next mailbox to move forward and let people behind you use the first one and several cards fall out of your hatchback onto the street. One gets run over by the car behind you. You realize this mailbox has a sign that says ‘Stamped Mail’. You didn’t notice any sign on the previous mailbox, so it’s very possible you just put 30ish of your holiday cards in a completely incorrect box. They’ll probably end up in Yugoslavia. You jump out of the car, shouting at your oldest to help you shove the remaining cards into the box. The cars behind you start honking because you’re taking too long so you burst into tears and shout at them, MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS, YOU ASSHOLES.