New Haven, CT - 43-year-old stockbroker Martin Wells is in the grip of an annual anxiety attack from the strain of trying to grasp the unwritten rules of giving and receiving Christmas cards.
"I don't even want to get Christmas cards, let alone give them," said a visibly distraught Wells. "Bad enough I have to go through this pointless ritual every year but then I'm expected to display the cards I get in my living room for weeks on end, which is even more pointless."
Wells said he leaves his cards up until Christmas day but beyond that has no idea when it's socially acceptable to take them down.
"It only takes a few seconds to read a card then you never read it again," he said. "So why can't we just throw it straight in the trash afterwards?"
Wells also had concerns over the potential dangers of card giving.
"What if I give a card to one person at the office but not another? Will that be seen as a hostile act of exclusion and 'shutting someone out'? And what if I give a card to a woman who secretly hates me? Next thing you know I'm up on a sexual harassment charge. It's a nightmare."
He went on to say that he wasn't even sure when he was supposed to start putting his cards up.
"My mother sent me a card at the end of November and I didn't know whether to put it up straight away or wait a couple days until it was actually December," he said.
The card in question now stands alongside numerous others on a mantelpiece strung with a dozen more. Wells predicted he was going have to clear the coffee table to make room for another batch.
"I'm already running out of space," he said. "So far I've had eleven cards from relatives and sixteen from friends and co-workers. If last year is any indication they'll be more to come."
Wells expressed bewilderment at the whole concept of exchanging Christmas cards in the first place.
"It's the Internet age," he said. "If people want to wish each other Merry Christmas then surely it's enough to mass email everyone and save ourselves a lot of time and money."
The stockbroker was particularly distressed over what to do regarding acquaintances who gave him Christmas cards.
"I even get cards from the cleaning staff at work for Chrissakes," he said. "I barely know half these people yet every time one of them gives me a card I feel obliged to give one back."
At press time, Wells was thinking of converting to Judaism to avoid any more of this bullshit.