Every Christmas I see it. Multiple times. And every Christmas I remain politely in silence. But this year I’m speaking out: no more apostrophes on family names in Christmas cards.
It’s a baffling trend. Apostrophes are for possession (my dog’s Christmas stocking) and for omitting letters (it’s time to open presents). But when you say “Merry Christmas from the Johnson’s,” you have to ask yourself: are the Johnsons possessing anything in that sentence? Or, did you remove a letter between the ‘n’ and the ‘s’? The simple, matter-of-fact answer to both those questions is no. The apostrophe has no purpose and no place in that phrase. “Johnsons” is a simply plural noun–multiple people with the last name of Johnson wishing a merry Christmas.
Yet, for some mysterious reason, so many feel compelled to stick that little apostrophe in their last name. But it’s wrong. And it’s embarrassing.
What if your last name ends in an ‘s,’ you say? Like, say, Curtis? Well, the apostrophe still doesn’t make any more sense as it does with another plural name, so leave it out. Your card should say “Merry Christmas from the Curtises.” By rule in the English language, when a word (yes, even proper nouns like last names!) ends in ‘s’ or ‘x,’ you add an “es” to the end of the word (think “glasses” or “foxes” or…”Christmases”).
If your last name is Mays, and you don’t like how “Mayses” looks on a Christmas card, change the phrase. Say something like “Merry Christmas from the Mays family.” Problem solved.
But don’t use the apostrophe. Ever.