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Christmas Card Crankiness

I love getting Christmas cards, I really do. BUT, I'm not really a fan of where they are heading. In fact, I've seen some cards out there that are downright rude. Once upon a time cards were like beautiful pieces of art, but then came the photo card. Now I love me some cute kid pictures all day long, all those adorable grins on my fridge warm my cold snarky heart but I miss the handwritten notes on beautiful mini art. Alas, I too have succumbed to the lure of convenience of the photo card this year. But its all good, where cards go wrong is when they get braggy. 

This is Bridget, she's been all over the Internet and she GETS it 

I really REALLY want to believe that people who send braggy cards do so completely unintentionally, but sometimes when I see a card I imagine the conversation going like this: 

Hey honey, can you tell me which of these pictures of us in front of the Eiffel Tower looks the best? I can't imagine a better way to let our friends and family know that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ than by reminding them of the fancy European vacation we took over the summer. 

Ok, so I am optimistic that these conversations don't happen, but do you see the kind of message a card can send? Here's a few more to think about

The wedding photo:
Hey there, didn't want to spend the money to have you at my wedding but I DO want you to see how fabulous I looked! 

The baby announcement: 
Woohoo, we're honoring The Lord this season by having sex for the purpose He intended. Oh, you've been trying too? You fail! 

The professional photoshoot collage: 
Look how perfect we are in our color coordinated, un-wrinkled outfits. Also, we got multiple children to pose perfectly at the same time, because our kids are better than yours. 

The photo that includes the large house: 
We're rich!!! 

The boat photo: 
We want to look rich 

The year in review: 
Que the "Everything is Awesome" song from The Lego Movie . . . Is it that awesome, really? 

So here's the deal on all of these, 99% of the time when I get one of these cards I love it. I mean, color coordinated outfits rock and its nice to have family pictures so you were getting them done anyway, get the bang for the buck. I love being reminded how I got to be there on their special day when a couple uses a wedding photo ( but seriously, if I'm a b list friend don't rub it in) and my first thought is to be excited when someone shares good news of a baby or other excitement. But when I see these cards from people I don't know, or maybe know but don't particularly care for the snarky thoughts start exploding in my mind. So be careful who you send your cards to y'all . . . And yes, if I send one to you I would love one back even if its the kind I just snarked about. 

Maybe it's because the holidays are now and will forever be a bitter sweet time for me or maybe I've just gotten a bit more sentimental as I've aged but I really believe Christmas cards should send a message of I am thinking of you rather than I want you to look at me. We have email, blogs, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, ect to share ourselves with the world; brag all you want all day long there. The older I get the less Christmas is about presents and all the other 21st century trimmings and more about the love. The love that God has for us that he sent a Savior to die for our sins and how we should at least try to show that kind of love to eachother. I think about the humble life of that Savior, about his teachings, and how we are called by Him to live. I like to think of Christmas cards as taking a little piece of love and sending it out into the world. On a sadder and more mathematical note I think of how this season is very hard for millions of people and I hope that a mailbox full of braggy cards doesn't make them sadder. 

This year I cut my card list in half. I choose a simple, unairbrushed, festive photo I already had available and included pictures of the girls, because come on , they're adorable. I kept the message simple: Merry Christmas . . . And really y'all, I mean that. 

Cashmere Care

I like nice things, but sometimes I suck at taking care of them. Case in point, for a long time I have wondered how the heck people keep cashmere sweaters for years when I just look at mine and poof, fuzz balls everywhere! Somewhere along the way I discovered the secret the rest of the world already knew, you don't just wear a cashmere sweater like a regular piece of clothing, you have to take care of it. Perhaps this is why cashmere is so expensive, to insure only people with lady's maids to care for it have it. But since this is no Downton Abbey lifestyle here at Casa De MandySue I've had to learn these things on my own. 

But seriously, I love a nice cashmere sweater. I would never, EVER, pay the full retail price but I do love the way Lilly Pulitzer elevates cashmere beyond just a plain boring black turtleneck. 

This is the Nanette sweater, I got this ON SALE for $99, yikes! But oh how I love the ruffles 

And this one is the Madison, sale price $158, yeah, you better believe I plan on wearing this for years. 

So when I lilly sweater I got from a fellow lilly lover looked like this after a few wears I knew it was time to take action

I bought one of those sweater stones a few months ago but like a lot of useless things I buy it was nowhere to be found when I needed it. Plus, $8 for basically the same thing as a Dollar Tree pumice sponge , no thank you. So I just dug out a fresh razor, yep - the same kind you use to shave your legs, and went to work. 

To shave your sweater, hold the fabric taunt but not too tight on a flat surface and drag the razor lightly across. I did a small area at a time with a few strokes and then kept moving downward

Basically, you'll be detaching the pills, lint and fuzz and dragging them down and off the sweater. Very little pressure is needed, the last thing you want is to make a hole. 

This is the fuzz collected from one side! 

Here the left side has been shaved and the right has not to give you an idea of the before and after: 

When I was done my sweater was practically looking new, yay! 

When wearing cashmere, make sure to wear a layer underneath. This way as long as you don't spill on it you won't need to wash after every wear. Ordinarily I'm a fan of taking my nice clothes to the dry cleaner but the chemicals are too harsh for something as delicate as cashmere. Hand wash with a delicate wash, you can buy an off brand of woolite at the Dollar Tree that's just as good. Roll in a towel to dry and then lay flat, hanging will drag out the shape. 

Yes, taking care of cashmere is a PITA ( pain in the . . .) but that's what it takes if you enjoy the finer things in life; at least it doesn't   wrinkle! You can always buy acrylic sweaters too but let's face it, it's just not the same. I only buy cashmere after Christmas or during an off season sale, Dillard's usually gets pretty serious with the markdowns on theirs come end of January. Cashmere is timeless and elegant so it does make for a nice investment piece, and I actually do think every woman should own a basic black turtleneck version. Over the years I have had to retire sweaters as they've become worn and lost their shape so I try to make it a point to buy a new one every year, it just makes winter more bare able. Oh, and if you come across leather cashmere lined gloves, just say yes!  

Just Say No

Once upon a time I used to love holiday parties. Each year I'd see how many I could pack into my December schedule and beem with pride in the privacy of my own home if I could beat the number I attended the year before, a few years ago this peaked at 21. This year I'll maybe attend 3. Now don't get me wrong, it's not that I've decided to suddenly not like people or that I don't love holiday cheer I just find holiday parties that used to be fun are now . . . Stressful. 

Now before you go calling me a grinch, allow me to explain . . . 

First off, I've changed my views on when I will go to parties. During my season of 21 parties I attended 3 in one Saturday night, and honestly had little fun; after that I came to my senses and decided its best to stick to one holiday event per evening. Since then I've realized I was pretty assured I'd leave the office at 5pm everyday when I was in my holiday party craming days, as I've grown in my career this isn't always the case. I'm not interested at hurrying all day at work, hurrying home, hurrying to change into a festive outfit and grab whatever I'm supposed to bring (we'll get to that in a minute) and hurrying to the event. Nope, not doing it, so weekday parties are out. 

Secondly, maybe I'm a Scrooge but I've also become a bit more stingy with how much I'm willing to spend to attend a holiday party. Most ask you to bring something:  a dish to share, drinks, a gift to exchange, money, a charitable donation item. I don't mind bringing something, especially when it comes to charitable contributions but I do take issue with bringing multiple things so when the cost of bringing stuff to a party starts to look like what I'd pay for a decent dinner out sorry, but I'll take door number 2 please and thank you. Also, as an etiquette pet peeve I'd like to insert a reminder that if one is asking / demanding their "guests" to bring multiple items they aren't really hosting a party but coordinating an event. Please just coordinate the event to be at a restaurant and save me the trip to different stores gathering items to bring. Of course, for organizations I understand the concept of the group potluck, but omg nothing annoys me more than showing up at an event with 8 trays of cookies - if you are coordinating a potluck you really need to have a sign up and have people bring either a dish OR adult beverages. 

So potlucks, I've developed a love / hate relationship with them. On one hand I love potluck food when the coordinator had made sure a balanced spread is available. One can only eat so many varieties of cold dip y'all; Which means warm potluck items are nice - but then you have to balance out cooking and getting ready. Without fail at every potluck is the perfectly groomed woman bringing the most amazingly delicious dish served on a beautiful tray at the perfect temperature. Meanwhile I'm in a cute outfit but ducking in to sneak my store bought cookies onto the table, ugh, or arriving with a dish fresh from the oven with hair I gave up on and only half my makeup applied. Sometimes it feels like all those potluck dishes are calling out to me YOU'RE A FAILURE. Agh, I hear you potluck dishes and I have no idea why I can't balance my time better. 

This bring me to my next point, getting ready for a party. My office is super duper business casual and while I don't need a fresh shower after a day at the office I'd probably want to change out of my boring gray slacks and cardigan outfit, or whatever else I threw on that am. Actually doing something with the hair that air dried during my commute and putting on some fresh makeup also isn't a bad idea, point being I don't just go from the office to going out. Plus not to mention I do have dogs at home kinda dependent upon me for survival. Stopping home before a party is essential , and hence why I'm hesitant to go out after work - I can't get there in time! Also, I spend weekends doing all the stuff I can't afford to pay a personal assistant to do, sometimes comes party time all I want is sleepy time. And let's not forget about an outfit! For every party I have to find, buy and coordinate something nice to wear, remember to set it out the night before and then get myself into the night of . . . Or I can chill in my comfortable pjs at my private couch party. 

Finally, let us not forget what happens when one finally makes it to the holiday party: small talk. SO MUCH SMALL TALK. Look, I really like my job but that doesn't mean I want to talk about it all the time when I'm not there. No, I'm not engaged yet; yes, it has been a cold winter; yes, the tigers playing in the Miami beach bowl is both exciting yet disappointing since its far away; I'm not sure about coach Pastner; of course I think Alabama is looking at another national championship . . . And then the awkward lull of silence as we search for an exit from the conversation. One of my 2015 resolutions is to do better at making time for the friends I already have, enough with this oh we should grab a drink sometime crap - I want to actually make the time rather than just talk about it. Point being, sometimes I suck at juggling home / work / family / friends, maybe this does make me a grinch but I'm just not interested in more friends, I want to be better to the ones I have first! So I'm kinda over making nice with people I only see once a year at a random holiday party, I'm always happy to make time for my real friends but I don't have energy for fake ones. 

I feel like this time of year just has a lot of pressure to be special. For some, a calendar full of parties might be the trick but whatever makes one feel happy I think THAT is what they should spend their time doing. Hopefully this won't get me disinvited from any holiday activities : ) 

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