The Movie Diary
August 16, 2017

Movie Diary – Drawing on friends

By Dom Cioffi
The Internet destroyed many industries during its meteoric rise in the late 90s and early 2000s. One of its most devastated victims was the Christmas card.

For decades, the Christmas card reigned supreme as the preeminent means of providing an annual catch-up for friends and family. You could wish someone well, bless their holiday, and fill them in on your life all in one delivery.

Once the Internet took over – with email, ecards and eventually social media – common mail simply felt, well, dated (and costly). But I never gave up on the Christmas card.

In fact, I just sent out my 2016 Christmas cards last week, which may strike you as odd. I mean, why would someone send out a holiday greeting that was eight months late?

Here’s why: Since 1989 (that’s 28 years ago, the year I graduated from college), I have hand-made an annual Christmas card and sent it out to friends and family. I’d always been a doodler so a Christmas card felt like the perfect forum to showcase my limited artistic talent.

The first card was a simple holiday-themed cartoon drawing that I photocopied on both sides of an 8.5 x 11-inch paper and then folded in half to form a card. I then used colored pencils to color in each picture. After that, I collected addresses and hand wrote them on the envelopes before dropping them in the mail.

The entire process took me close to two weeks.

I used this same approach for several years until color copying became available, then “upgraded” to coloring just one card and replicating that.
A few years later, I utilized the computer to scan in my hand-drawn picture and apply the color via software. I was then able to output multiple copies through a color printer.

The next jump involved the same creation process, but then I would upload the final product to an online printing service who would then print my order on heavy, glossy card stock. I have continued to use this approach for the last 15-plus years.

During these years I also created an address list database that I would refine and update annually. Family members who made it onto the list generally stayed there until they died. Friends come and go and so did their inclusion on the list.

I’ve always had trouble dropping people from my list. I’ve never had an actually falling out with someone, but there are times when distance or time puts too much space between you.

I also had to limit the number of cards I sent out. I decided many years ago to have 100 cards be my ceiling. Due to that firm number, I simply have to drop a name if someone new comes into my life who I want to send a card to.

But you’re probably still wondering why I waited so long to send out my 2016 cards, right? Well, late last fall, when I normally would have been in the process of creating my card, I was in a battle against cancer and in no condition to be creative (or functional, for that matter).

Knowing that I was going to miss my first Christmas card in 28 years was a streak I did not want to see end, so I vowed that when I finally got better, I would send them out then.

Months went by before I finally felt good enough to put pen to paper. But at that point, a Christmas greeting seemed fairly outdated, so I decided to turn my annual holiday greeting into a thank you card to everyone who lent me support during my cancer battle.

So, over the past couple weeks, my closest family and friends got a surprise card in the mail thanking them for being there for me. And just so there was a Yuletide consistency, I also snuck in a quick “Oh! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, too!” postscript.

This week’s film, “Rough Night,” features a group of girlfriends who are Christmas card close. Together they head to Miami for a wild bachelorette party celebrating one of the ladies’ impending wedding. And then all hell breaks loose.

This was an obvious knock-off of “The Hangover” that, on paper, looked to be a winner. The cast was top-notch and the storyline was palpable. Unfortunately, the material the women had to work with did not play to their strengths. That’s not to say there wasn’t several quality belly laughs. There were. It’s just too bad that the space between was devoid of comedic creativity.

Don’t go into this one expecting another “Bridesmaids” or you’ll be sorely disappointed.

A queasy “C-” for “Rough Night.”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at

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