Sending Xmas Postcards with Return Address and Adorable Photo: Dangerous?

Have rhtbnhrkzy
yourself a very scary Christmas…

Dear Free-Range Kids: So I need some advice. I made up some postcard-style Christmas cards this year with our family photos on them. They have the pics on the front, and a greeting on the back that has all of our names. It also has our return address on it. I’m REALLY trying hard not to be paranoid about it by assuming that some perv at the post office is going to start stalking my family and steal one of my kids, but I just can’t seem to feel okay about mailing them without using an envelope. Can you help me either feel better about mailing them, OR not feel paranoid for putting them in envelopes?
Thanks in advance,

Hi Kerry! When I spoke with David Finkelhor at the Crimes Against Children Research Center, I once asked him, “What about jerseys with kids’ names on them? Do predators pretend they know a kid by saying his name? A name the predator saw on the shirt?” And Prof. Finkelhor said that he — he who researches child crimes on a daily basis — had NEVER heard of a case like that.

Similarly, I have never heard of a post office perv stalk a family whose photo and address he saw on a card. There are so many reasons this wouldn’t happen, (starting with:

1 – YOU think your family is the most adorable on earth, but it’s just possible that there is non-universal agreement on this point. And

2 – Why would someone stalk a family, which is hard, instead of just doing what most molesters do, which is find the closest, easiest person to prey upon? (Not that that’s so reassuring. It’s just reassuring when your big fear is post office crazies.) Not to mention the fact that:

3 – Most post office employees probably are NOT pervs. 

After writing to Kerry I got a note back that she had sent out the postcards. Here’s wishing you the same: Tidings of sanity and joy in a world devoted to making it illegal to even sit on Santa’s lap with mom, dad, mall security and a photographer two feet away. – L 

Merry Christmas. Come and get us!

Come and get us!


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29 Responses to Sending Xmas Postcards with Return Address and Adorable Photo: Dangerous?

  1. Warren December 23, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

    The whole idea of a family photo being a Christmas card to me screams inflated ego, to begin with. I guess if you think you and your kids are that special that people really want your family photo………..then it only stands to reason that the one and only pervert working in the post office will track you down, and steal your kids, by passing the thousands of other kids he or she will pass on the way to your place.

    Why do people think they and their kids are so freaking desired and special.

    As George Carlin so wonderfully put it, not every child is special. Like any other demographic there is one or two special ones, an amount of average ones, and a whole bunch of losers.
    Yes my kids are special……….to me. I do not expect anyone else to see them as special.

  2. Abigail December 24, 2014 at 1:11 am #

    I actually worry about identity theft for my kids having dealt with it myself. That being said, I think over posting on Facebook is far more risky than a postcard!

  3. KumquatWriter December 24, 2014 at 1:43 am #

    Wow, harsh response Warren. Aren’t Christmas cards sent to people we care about and who care about us? We only get pictures from family/friends at Christmas, and that’s generally when we all update our “family albums” be they in scrapbooks or on corkboards or on the fridge. How is that egocentric? Most people don’t print out their Facebook feeds. Paper photos and paper cards are old fashioned – why not combine them?

  4. Kemara December 24, 2014 at 4:32 am #

    I work in pagination for several newspapers. One of my editors told me that years ago his young daughter and her friend were part of a soccer team that its photo in the paper. A local man searched the phone book for the names of some of the girls – including the editor’s daughter – and called their homes asking for them and saying it had to do with soccer. When the girls got on the phone he spouted all kinds of filthy language.

    I’d never heard of anyone actually doing that before…I thought it was an urban legend. The editor wasn’t pushing for kids’ names not to be published which kind of surprised me. He said his daughter and her friends were upset, but that it was an isolated incident.

  5. lollipoplover December 24, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    “Most post office employees probably are NOT pervs.”

    We’ve had the same postman for the past 15 years.
    Dennis has treats for the dogs, packages he puts in the hands of our kids, and is an avid gardener who we swap bails of hay for so he can winterize his garden. He was my niece’s soccer coach up until she was 18. This is a good guy.
    So are the ones at our local post office who got me my Rudolph Christmas stamps. They’ve been there for years and are constants in our community.

    Seriously, with the volume of mail these people deal with, do you honestly think that one postcard will drive a postal employee to the dark side of stalking??? That your family is that irresistible? Yet millions of photos are uploaded to Facebook each minute. Of children.
    Is some perv at Facebook going to stalk my family?
    Or my FRIENDS??
    OH, the humanity.

  6. Jill December 24, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    Kemara, Someone seeing a child’s name in a soccer photo and telephoning her to talk dirty to her is different than someone tracking her down and abducting her.
    BTW, I used to do pagination when I worked at a newspaper. There was something very satisfying about making everything fit exactly right.

  7. Jill December 24, 2014 at 8:36 am #

    Lollipop Lover, your mail carrier and the post office employees are just lulling you into a false sense of security. By giving your dog teats and swapping gardening hints and getting you special postage stamps, they are grooming you to let down your guard. When the time is ripe, perhaps on the next full moon, they will abduct you and sacrifice you to Satan.

  8. Emily Morris December 24, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Everyone knows a happy and close-knit community is just a network of pervs.

  9. Michelle December 24, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    Warren, I find your response strange. I have never seen a Christmas card that didn’t include a family photo, and most times the card is the photo. I’d be disappointed if my friends and relatives who live far away didn’t send me pictures.

  10. fred schueler December 24, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    Maybe Free-range Kids could get funding for a student intern to calculate the frequency with which some of these scenarios occur – e.g. – “less than 0.0000000001% of family-photo postcards result in child abductions.”

  11. Donna December 24, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    Warren, Huh? I much prefer to receive Christmas cards with family pictures than stock pictures of Christmas trees (or whatever). I have also really enjoyed seeing the Year in Review albums Facebook is currently posting for everyone. Assuming that you are receiving Christmas cards from people you care about, why exactly do you NOT want to see pictures of them once a year? I don’t need to see pictures of little Bobby heading to school every day, but I do enjoy the occasional cute photo from my friends and family.

  12. Nadine December 24, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    Is your family name Jolie Pitt or Kardesomething? Is one of your kids twoheaded, sixlimbed or dressed like a toddler and tiara bathingsuit round? No? Then you are moste likely okay. If you do have any of these then you probably have a host of other problems you should adress first.

  13. SOA December 24, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    For practical purposes I suggest an envelope just because postcards often get marked up when in transit and it will mess up your cute family photo.
    That being said I send out family photo Christmas cards every year with zero worries. The postal workers are far too busy to pay attention to your picture I am sure.

  14. SOA December 24, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    Warren: I love getting photo cards. I always have. I made a cute decoration that is garland that I have glitter clips on and I pin the cards on the garland and it goes over our archway and creates a lovely one of a kind decoration every year when all the cards get on there. I get regular cards and photo cards but I prefer the photo cards.

    I love looking at family and friends and all the cute kids. Then when the holiday is over I cut up the cards to cut the pics out and then make a photo collage on my fridge that stays up all year round. Pics from the year before get put into an album.

    So just because YOU don’t like them does not mean others do not like them. I love them and look forward to them. I have a lot of older relatives that don’t have fb and email so that is a good way to get pics to them and they want to see the pics.

  15. Scott Lazarowitz December 24, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    You’ve gotta be kidding me! This sounds the Twilight Zone, or some other planet entirely. It can’t be Earth.

  16. pentamom December 24, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    Warren, if people send me Christmas cards, they’re almost certainly special enough to me that I want to see what they look like from year to year. I don’t get Christmas cards from people I see every day, and the people I do get them from tend to be people of whose family I don’t usually see every member, ever year, but am still interested in at least seeing a picture of them. Good golly, are you trying to be a caricature of something?

  17. pentamom December 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    It would seem to me that people who work in the post office kind of already know the names of people who live at your house, and a rough idea of their ages (based on what kinds of catalogs you get and such.) There isn’t any new information here. I don’t know a whole lot about the psychology of child predators but I’m pretty sure it has little to do with seeing a picture of a particular child and being overwhelmed with passion for that child.

  18. brian December 24, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

    You are not being honest if you claim not to enjoy a little Schadenfreude laughing at the awful xmas photos some people send. Far too many feature ostentatious outfits, ugly kids, mangy dogs, hideous outfits, terrible photo studios or families revealing a little too much skin. The best ones combine several of these features allowing my wife and I a well deserved chuckle in the midst of the stress of the holiday season.

  19. hineata December 24, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    Merry Christmas all, from one already here :-). Am tempted to attach a Christmas photo Warren, but as the lazy teens are still asleep wouldn’t be quite the done thing :-).

    Enjoying the heat, hope it’s not too ridiculously cold where ever you all are 🙂

  20. Michael Z Rork December 24, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    And 4. The postal employees have very little, if any, chance to see that photo on the post card as they are too busy doing their jobs, and so much of the mail sorting is done automatically by machines. No body is sitting there looking at every piece of mail that comes through, and if they are looking at it directly it’s so quick as to get it where it’s going that they don’t have time to ponder over the family on the postcard, let alone where that family lives.

  21. Dot December 24, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    Seriously…wow! Worrying about mail handlers vs the much more realistic risk hidden among the list of people she is addressing the cards to seems like insisting there’s a piece of hay in every needlestack.

  22. FredTownWard December 24, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    Maybe the trick is to head off problems with the right kind of photos and captions:

    “Here are Johnny and Suzy posing with the brand new semiautomatics they got for Christmas. After working with them on the shooting range, Dad says they are almost as good shots as he is, putting 6 bullets in the kill zone of a man sized target as fast as they can pull the triggers.”

    “Merry Christmas from Bruno our 400 pound Rottweiler, fully recovered from whatever it was he ate a few months back when that suspected pedophile disappeared.”

    and so on.

  23. Steve December 24, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    Think about how many years postcards with personal messages have been sent through the mail. With photos or not, this tradition of sending “visible” personal information and home addresses has been going on for more than 100 years.

    Telephone books, school yearbooks, church membership directories, city directories – all of these kinds of public information have existed for many years, long before fear-mongering became the national paranoia.

    Your personal reality is often not The Truth

  24. Steve December 24, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    I meant to say your personal reality is not The Truth, it’s just a collection of your beliefs built into a fantasy you “think” is reality.

  25. Betsy in Michigan December 24, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    Wow, Brian, I guess I can feel smug about the reasonable taste exhibited by MY friends and relatives in the Christmas cards I get. I DO laugh at the ones that end up posted on the ‘Net as part of a series of awful photos (and all those Walmart outfit fails), so I don’t believe I am taste impaired.

    I’ve known MY mail carrier since we moved in almost 20 years ago. Sometimes she catsits for me when I’m away, so she knows where we keep the key (gasp!). I just sent HER a Christmas card with photo of us and the kids, b/c she’s been off work with back issues for a few months, and I haven’t phoned her in a few weeks.

  26. Bob Davis December 24, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

    FredTownWard: You beat me to it–I was going to suggest a family photo with each person’s favorite firearm at the ready, but the recovering Rottweiler was the icing on the cake.

  27. Owen Allen December 25, 2014 at 5:39 am #

    Once again, you are a sane voice in a frightened world.
    Merry Christmas.

  28. Papilio December 25, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    Merry Christmas everyone (religious or not, I don’t care)!
    Sorry, including an adorable photo of me would be impossible… Those horns kinda show, you know 😛

  29. Denise Meredith December 26, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    I had a disagreement with my mother over the name on the jacket. I was ordering one as she rode next to me in the back seat. My 2 year old was asleep beside me. She disagreed with me and tried to argue with me about this decision.

    I pointed out that my father was driving a new car because he’d totaled the last one in a wreck that put my niece in the hospital for a week. Driving was much more dangerous than what I was doing. I quoted the stats on the difference.

    She said that my father was doing all he could to prevent an accident. I finally told her that this was a parenting decision and wasn’t up for debate.