Sleeves and Betty
The Christmas card

c'est le bummeur

Maybe I missed that day in school when they explained how to break it off with or (even, Merciful Hour) just let go of old friends, because I have always been completely at sea with all that. I wish there was some sort of convention you could follow, as with romantic relationships:

Look, it's not you, it's me. You're a lovely person. I'm just not in the right place. Let's be fr-

-- oh, no, wait. Let's not be friends, actually. Let's not. 
So there's that scenario: the old friend from whom you have grown apart.

Then, even more demoralising, are the friends with whom you share whole meaningful chunks of your life, but from whom you were forced apart by life or experience; these are often lovely people, but life or experience has somehow divided you. The one who married the fellow who failed to see your charms (THE CHEEK) or the one who gave birth on your due date, (such a kind, deep person. Sigh.), the Italians who you left behind in Italy, and seem to take this as a personal affront. The school friends who just seem uber conventional. The college friends who have emigrated.

This crisis is an annual thing, brought about by The Christmas. The Christmas means you send The Christmas Cards, and since my memory is a sieve, not a rolodex, I must consult this book of obsolescence, doom and melancholy:


Do you have such a thing? It is about 15 years old, which is old for an address book. Isn't it? Lifetimes have gone by. Divergent paths have been chosen. People have moved, died. It's full of crossed out dead addresses.

But. What should I do with the blinking thing? Put it out to grass? Hide it in a library? Slip it down the back of the radiator? Burn it in a midnight ceremony? After all, my now-friends reside in digital format now on my pc, that being the way of the world. So, out with the old? 

Advice welcome. Have a good weekend, all.



Shelve it and pull it out when you want to reminisce. After all, it is a repository of memories of a sort. Put all your current addresses on the computer, and put that thing away.

Alternatively, you could get a handy address book like the one I have - it has individual slips of paper that can be removed, so you don't have to look at old addresses.


I agree--keep the Object, because it's meaningful. But perhaps it's time to CULL. It seems like a good moment to cease to be troubled by those relationships. As if one can just DO that.

I love a paper address book, because I like paper mail, and paper and paper go together. Mine is in the back of my tiny little filofax, which is a kind of calendar that comes in a binder, and you keep the cover and replace the contents every year. Every year I update the addresses on new adorable tiny sheets of three ring paper, because the crossed out ones for dead people are too depressing. I used to do this by hand, but now have a tiny formatted list that I update on the computer and print out and cut into pages and punch tiny holes in.

Mostly, I admire the fact that you've got these rich layers of dusty and defunct relationships. I think it says something good about you, like that you've touched a lot of people (in a non-pervy way) and lived a lot of places and this is sounding like your obituary.


I don't have any helpful ideas, I am afraid, but I do find it very sad looking at all those old addresses.

I think I would perhaps get a nice new paper address book and put the current addresses in, keep the old one just in case.


I don't really know anything about letting go, except perhaps that moving far away tends to make this easier. But unfortunately you'll also be far away from those you wanted to be friends with. Le sigh.

Midnight memorial burning somehow seems appealing to me, but I suspect the other commenters above are right and keeping it, tucked away on a shelf, is the better idea in the long run.


You are wise people. I will keep it but somewhere less visible to be looked at when the correct mood strikes.

First I must transcribe the live addresses. And do a little light pruning.

This is good. I feel better. Thank you.


Oh GOD, you just captured perfectly the ordeal I went through tonight. I too have a 15 year old address book, with many defunct and crossed out addresses. In my case, I actually have the current addresses of people I rarely speak to anymore (not necessarily by my choice) and I have been waffling about whether to send them cards or not. This must be why I rarely send out Christmas cards anymore...

At least I'm not alone in my despondency--that's helpful. :-)


So we're all having the same Christmas ANGST. Oy also vey. I shall set fire to my address book, so I shall. MIne made me cry my eyes out this year. Which is very very embarrassing, but it is alas very very true.


*nods furiously in agreement*

Mine is called The Good, The Bad, and (in very small font on the back cover) The Ugly. At least 10 years old, probably more.


Not embarrassing, May - indeed, OY + VEY. (I have a Jewish great great grandmother, you know.)

These address books need to go to the drawer no one visits, at the very least.

Valery Valentina

So um, just using the return addresses on the cards that you receive is not the polite thing to do?
(It could be the reason we get fewer cards each year...)

Valery Valentina

And one more um, we have moved. and we haven't exactly sent out the new address to anyone.
This might not go well...
o dear.

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