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Meanwhile, on the Internet
Tribune Reporters
'Meanwhile' is a collaborative blog about all the crazy stuff on the Internet. Here, reporters from various Tribune desks tell you what you (almost) need to know about topics ranging from technology to YouTube sensations. Contributors: Michael McFall, Dave Newlin, Matt Piper, Brennan Smith, Erin Alberty. Edited by Sheena McFarland.

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Some holiday cards speak for themselves.
Your Christmas card isn’t good enough for me!

If you were about to send off a few dozen holiday cards featuring a picture of your family and a general message of good cheer, make sure Eric Hoover isn’t on your mailing list.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Hoover adds to the existing body of holiday card criticism — it probably should be its own genre at this point — by dumping on his friends’ cards.

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"Just look at the gorgeous card we got last year: a professional photograph of a couple and their three young children, dressed to the nines," he writes. "It’s affixed to a thick piece of paper with a gold border. Even the font seems smug."

Hoover’s biggest beef is that many cards now arrive with no personal message or even a signature. But even if you do take the time to write a friendly note, Hoover still is on the lookout for your insufferable self-importance.

I mean, seriously. The idea that Hoover might want the refrigerator magnet he received from a friend, printed with a photo of the friend’s kid, is "delusional." A photo from his friend’s family vacation is an ostentatious display of prosperity, possibly even more offensive than dressing one’s children in nice clothes for a family picture.

Rather than choosing new "friends" (if you can even call someone that after they’ve sent an inadequate holiday card), Hoover humors his mailing list with a special card of his own. In demonstration of their humble Christmas spirit, he and his wife commission professional artwork depicting their lives for the cover image. Then they sit down "night after night," writing messages to each recipient.

Of course a personal message is nicer if you’ve got time for it. Hoover acknowledges that he has extra free time because he doesn’t have kids — "Yet even some of the most harried parents we know manage to spend several hours a week on Facebook, usually posting updates about their kids. Why not log off and spend a few minutes writing something personal?" he asks.

That’s right, Eric Hoover’s friends-with-kids. When he throws your crappy Christmas card back in your face, don’t even try whining about how busy you are. He sees you when you’re sleeping! He knows when you’re on Facebook! He knows if you’ve been bad or good and will police how you spend your free time!

So you better watch out. If you’re naughty, he might not send you a commissioned painting of himself doing something clever.

I’ve never sent a holiday card. But now I’m getting requests because my husband and I live far away from family who don’t use Facebook, and they want to see a picture of our baby. So we’re choosing a couple of pictures to have an online service whip up some cards. We’ll extend our greetings to some friends, which means someone, like Mr. Hoover, probably will receive a card they aren’t very interested in.

If that happens, I hope they just throw it away rather than write an article in the Washington Post about my smug fonts, and how much better their cards are than mine.

—Erin Alberty



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