Another greeting card category consists of those persons who send out
photographs of their families every year. In the same mail that brought the
greetings from Marcia and Philip, my friend found such a conversation piece.
"My God, Lida is enormous!" she exclaimed. I don't know why women want to
record each year, for two or three hundred people to see, the ravages wrought
upon them, their mates, and their progeny by the artillery of time, but
between five and seven per cent of Christmas cards, at a rough estimate, are
family groups, and even the most charitable recipient studies them for little
signs of dissolution or derangement. Nothing cheers a woman more, I am afraid,
than the proof that another woman is letting herself go, or has lost control
of her figure, or is clearly driving her husband crazy, or is obviously
drinking more than is good for her, or still doesn't know what to wear.
Middle-aged husbands in such photographs are often described as looking
"young enough to be her son," but they don't always escape so easily, and a
couple opening envelopes in the season of mercy and good will sometimes handle
a male friend or acquaintance rather sharply. "Good Lord!" the wife will say.
"Frank looks like a sex-crazed shotgun slayer, doesn't he?" "Not to me," the
husband may reply. "to me he looks more like a Wilkes-Barre dentist who is
being sought by the police in connection with the disappearance of a choir
- -- James Thurber, "Merry Christmas"