Sent to my wife and me from Bruno & Bruno, a New Orleans law firm heavily involved in litigation concerning Hurricane Katrina, the card depicts elves standing in front of “gingerbread floodwalls.”
“We’re going to need more icing,” says one. “And more gumdrops. YUM,” says another. The three elves wear hats (one a construction helmet) that read “CORPS.”
And the message from Bruno & Bruno on the reverse side of the card says, “After five years no matter how you sugarcoat it, it’s still gross negligence.”
The “happy holidays from your friends” closing on the card didn’t quite bestow me with any happiness, though. (How can anyone get pleasant feelings from a card that’s wordage goes from “gross negligence” straight to “happy holidays”?) Being reminded of disaster and personal loss caused by the Army Corps of Engineers’ blatant disregard, a memory we’ve tried to get far from, significantly lacks in spirit, I find.
Over the last five years, my wife and I have continued to receive countless holiday cards from all across the country. They come from our relatives, good friends and former neighbors who were displaced from their homes due to Hurricane Katrina. When we receive those cards, they remind us of that disaster, sure – at least somewhat – but give us opportunity to relive fond memories from before the hurricane. No bitterness or sadness. We greatly appreciate them.
We’ve had to update our address books with regularity, too. For Christmas 2005, we mailed our cards to addresses used as temporary shelters, mostly in the area surrounding Greater New Orleans. In the immediately following years, they went to other locations farther away from the city that our friends and family used as last-stands while waiting to make a final decision for their futures, not having full opportunity and/or desire to return but still not wanting to give up on the idea.
And in the last couple of years, our holiday cards were mailed to permanent, established addresses in distant locations our relations had finally settled as their homes. The farther our holiday cards traveled, the more removed we were from the losses incurred due to Hurricane Katrina, I guess.
The progress in the messages those cards bore over the years demonstrate that distance, too. They switched to “had a great crop of vegetables this year!” instead of “sure miss my old garden.” “Found a great new restaurant right near the house” replaced “remember the Po-Boy Bakery? So sad it came down.”
This impersonal card from Bruno & Bruno, though, only returned the loss of our home and personal belongings, and the loss of my very dear in-law, too, right to our mailbox. It took away the progress and distance, and dropped all the negativities on our toes.
The best I can say about it is that the card came after the holiday season was officially over; it would have been quite a spoiler had I received it during the season. Hopefully, Bruno & Bruno purposefully timed it that way.
And I have to give them some credit, I guess, for keeping the fight going in this legal matter. When they and other law firms finally succeed in making the Corps pay for its mistakes, maybe I’ll forgive Bruno & Bruno.
I won’t be sending them any holiday cards, though.
(Click here to see a larger image of the postcard.)