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Tidings of Great Woe
by Walt Giersbach

Friends, I know it’s June and I’m late getting back to everyone of you who’re wondering where my Christmas cards are, but there’ve been a few problems with the greeting. I had to run it by my lawyer (you know how lawyers can get if they feel neglected), and there were a few other thoughts I’ll try to boil down before it gets too late.

This was my first shot at a greeting: PEACE ON EARTH, GOODWILL TOWARD MEN

This sounded like a safe, all-encompassing swinging message, but I had to take a closer look at the semantics. PEACE, for example; does it mean “be quiet” or “shut up”? (You can imagine how that’d go over with the Conservatives, if they haven’t all gone looking for asylum.) Then there’s that word EARTH. My neighbor Eddie asked if it applies to people in airplanes and to Ruthie who’s on a Caribbean cruise. My lawyer also e-mailed me just now with a point about GOOD WILL. He thinks I’ll need a disclaimer from this organization, or else add the Salvation Army. Then, finally, there’s the word MEN. You know what I’m trying to say, but will women friends get all hissy and pouty and feel excluded? And kids, I think I need something about minors because they’re future voters and consumers.

I bounced the message off my wife last night, and she asked if this was a free offer. Obviously, it didn’t scan with her. The Federal Trade Commission is going to wake up under Obama, too, so maybe I need a line saying “Offer ends June 30, 2009.” In the interest of good grammar, she also suggested I drop the comma and add the word AND.

In standing off from this whole business of greeting cards, I wonder if it might be better just to send off subscriptions to Reader’s Digest. Anybody know if they’re still in business? In the meantime, I’d wish everyone a Happy New Year, but I’ve been advised there’s a mess of liability issues in HAPPY and NEW. You understand.