How’s your poinsettia?

Well, whaddya know? It must be the end of August.

The Christmas card catalogues have started to arrive and the U.S. Postal Service has signs posted inviting persons in search of employment to apply for work sorting and delivering all those cheery end-of-the-year “I’ve been meaning to write; where does the time go?” messages about children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren you’ll never meet and probably don’t want to.

The brochures differ only a bit from year to year. Having entirely missed out on artistic genes in my genome, I find it devilishly clever of those who design these Christmas cards to achieve new ways each year to portray all the widely recognized symbols suited to the holly and ivy season. I mean how many ways can you think of to draw dove with a green leaf in its beak?

The senders of catalogs are worthy organizations who pander to my conscientious desire to do a good deed for someone less fortunate by directing my card purchases to them instead of to Hallmark. I can feel virtuous as well as triumphant while I send greetings to those old college chums, who, I hope, are still expecting to hear from me unless they’ve reached an even more advanced state of senility than I have. Mail catalogs make virtue so inexpensive I can’t resist it.

To be a Christmas card artist - or a Season’s Greetings artist if that’s your persuasion - you don’t need to study flora very intensively. There are only two that are essential: coniferous trees and poinsettias. With any genetically or otherwise engineered variant of those, you can’t go far wrong.

Fauna, on the other hand, offer much more variety as subjects of seasonal benedictions. Not rabbits, of course. They have their own jolly season.

I have never seen fish portrayed as bearers of goodwill toward men. I don’t know why that is. Allegedly the earliest Christians were a bunch of fishermen and the letters in the Greek word for fish spell out a hidden message regarding Jesus, which would, alas, have been Greek to him. Oh, well.

For some reason birds are big with Christmas card artists. Doves by the dozens will nest in my mailbox. And geese and ducks and deer. Is that because the hunting season for such wildlife coincides with December so one doesn’t have to go to great lengths to find models?

And cardinals in the snow! What is it with those pointy-headed birds? Why don’t they fly south in the winter like everyone else?

I personally like the Chanukah cards I get from my Jewish friends, especially the ones that feature a dreidel. I like any sort of game that is based on a spinning object because I never was lucky at spin-the-milk-bottle. I was a romantically challenged adolescent, but that’s another story.

Before you select a Christmas card this year, you need to check to see if it’s printed on recycled paper in order to avoid contributing to the ecological disaster caused by cutting down trees to make paper. And you will remember, of course, to tell the service clerk you don’t need a box for the sweater you bought for Dear Old Whoever.

Actually, the ecologically correct thing to do would be to send your year-end greetings by e-mail, thus saving time, money and postal workers’ sanity.

But the idea just doesn’t resonate with me. Maybe next year, huh?