You must be in the right frame of mind — not necessarily your right mind, but the right frame of mind — to send one of Andrew Shaffer's Christmas card creations.
And you absolutely, positively, must be prepared for a jolt if you're on the receiving end, expecting another one of those, "Have a Blessed Holiday Season" cards.
Maybe you'd get the one with the photograph of the beleaguered farmers above the words, "The farmers agreed: This year's dirt harvest was indeed bountiful." Open the card and inside it reads, "Have a Great Depression and a Hungry New Year!
Got the idea?
Shaffer, a Cedar Rapids native and graduate of the University of Iowa Henry B. Tippe College of Business, is looking to the dark side on the Christmas cards he has designed for this holiday season.
Or, more accurately, he is looking to the absurdity of the relentlessly bleak talk about how we're facing another Great Depression.
"Unemployment isn't 30 percent," he said. "There aren't long lines at soup kitchens. These cards show what it was really like in the 1930s and that we're not even close to it."
Order of St. Nick has re-launched its entire line of gothic Christmas cards with a new Website, the insanely catchy and demonic-sounding EvilXmas.com.
The "evil" Christmas cards look at the dark side of the holiday season. The cards feature vampires, zombies, bats, undead pirates, and severed body parts galore, making them the perfect greeting cards for the hard-to-shop-for horror fans on everyone's Christmas list.
"Mixing dark imagery with the holiday season isn't new: Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, the first modern Christmas tale, was a gothic ghost story," Order of St. Nick's owner and creative director Andrew Shaffer says. "And right now, interest in the supernatural is at an all-time high," he says. He cites the recent #1 movie at the box office, Twilight, as an example of the mainstream appeal of the macabre in the United States.
20 different designs in all are available online at www.EvilXmas.com. Customers can buy the cards individually for $3.99 or in boxed sets of 10 for $18.99. Eight cards were introduced as part of Order of St. Nick's initial gothic Christmas card line in 2007, and they proved to be so popular that they've been expanded for 2008.