Ho? Ho? Or Ho?
Not Neiman's, but no less wonderful
You'd never know the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) 4.375-inch-by-9.25-inch, closed-face "VERIFIED SPECIAL DELIVERY" outer contains a 16.5-inch-by-12-inch sheet of a bazillion gold foil and silver foil holiday address labels and seals, a sheet of sparkly silver foil holiday gift tags, and a special money gift safety envelope decorated with red and green Christmas trees to put inside the enclosed return envelope.
OK, all that in itself isn't surprising. What is, and I find it rather delightful, is that the letter never mentions the holidays or a gift. It's a letter about Brian and the hardships he and his wife, Cheryl, faced after he was wounded in Iraq, with an evergreen ask that could be mailed year-round.
So what's such a big deal about this package? It's the 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch insert. On the front there's a vintage photo of two soldiers decorating a Christmas tree out in the forest. "Happy Holidays" and a border surround the black-and-white image in metallic gold ink. It feels old-timey, nostalgic and patriotic all at once.
But then on the back, in a far, far-too-tiny type (mid-single-digit point size) that I've only forgiven DAV for because this insert is so Neiman Marcus Christmas Fantasy Wish List in its intent and impact, is a poem. Patterned after "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," its author, Lance Cpl. James M. Schmidt, titled the poem "Merry Christmas, My Friend."
It's a quiet, enchanting surprise gift without much glam but a whole lot of heart … the kind of piece you hesitate to throw away, which is direct-mail pure gold.
The poem is too long to reproduce here, and there are several versions of it in circulation, but it's worth chasing down. Google it and check out snopes.com's description of how it went old-school viral in 1986 back when Cpl. Schmidt wrote it, on the cusp of the birth of the first commercial Internet service providers.