An old joke is when someone (the milk man, the door man, et al.) sends out a “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays” card. After a week, another card is send, demanding a tip—“Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays—second notice!”
Brooklyn humorist Sam Levenson (1911-1980) told the joke in 1955 The joke became associated with a New York City garage in 1962. The “second notice” joke is still popular every holiday season.
2 January 1955, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “Channel One” by Tom O’Malley and Bob Cunniff, pg. 12C, col. 2:
Sam Levenson, who can be funny on most any subject, was discussing the Christmas fervor around the Levenson Brooklyn household during the holidays. “Kids, you know,” philosophized Sam, “somehow think they’re not going to get any presents on Christmas Day. They are afraid there might be a slipup. Last week I found a note on my desk written by my kid. It said ‘Merry Christmas—Conrad.’ Couple of days ago I found another note—same handwriting. It said ‘Merry Christmas—Second Notice.’”
20 December 1955, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Season’s Best” by Jack Geyer, pg. A5:
Or, “Best wishes for a happy holiday and this is your second notice.”
Google News Archive
2 March 1962, Nashua (NH) Telegraph, “JFK Great Party-Goer,” pg. 4, cols. 5-6:
Edward R. Murrow, U.S. Information Agency director, at a luncheon honoring the Flemming Award winners for excellence in federal government service, told about a friend who had found a note on the windshield of his auto. It read “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. From the boys at the garage.” However, he soon forgot. Several weeks passed.
Two days before the holiday his friend found another note on his windshield. “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. From the boys at the garage. Second notice.”
8 December 1963, New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, This Week magazine, pg. 23, col. 2:
Taking no chances
The story is told of a Philadelphia milk-delivery man who slipped a “Merry Xmas” card under one of his customer’s doors about a week before the day of reckoning. The days slipped by and the expected gift did not materialize. Finally, a day before Christmas, the milkman slipped another card under the door. This one read, “Merry Christmas—Second Notice!”
15 May 1966, Oregonia (Portland, OR), “My Favorite Jokes” by Art Carney, Parade magazine, pg. 26, col. 2:
The trashman in my neighborhood who picks up our garbage refers to himself as a rubbish engineer. This past Christmas he dropped off a Christmas card at the house. It read, “Merry Christmas from your rubbish engineer.” I intended to leave a $10 bill in an envelope for his Christmas present, but I forgot. The following Monday he dropped off another Christmas card. It read, “Merry Christmas from your rubbish engineer. Second notice.”
24 December 1970, Springfield (MA) Union, “Did You Remember” by Art Buchwald, pg. 7, col. 3:
WASHINGTON—Our friends the Carbunkles really take their Christmas cards seriously. Perhaps it is because Mr. Carbunkle works in the credit office of a department store.
On Dec. 1 we received a card from the Carbunkles with a photograph of the family, and inside, “Warmest Wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all The Carbunkles.”
I remembered the card, because I had commented to my wife how well everyone in the Carbunkle family looked, though Carbunkle himself seemed to be putting on weight.
We thought nothing of it until two weeks later when we received another card, from the Carbunkles, which had stamped on the envelope: “Second Notice.”
I opened it and inside there was a printed note which read: “Two weeks ago you were sent a Christmas card from the Carbunkles wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Probably due to the crush of the holiday season you were unable to acknowledge it. While we are very understanding of your situation, we would like to remind you that your Christmas card is One Week Past Due and we are hoping you will attend to this matter at your earliest convenience. Sincerely yours, The Carbunkles.”
New York (NY) Times
A Time to Give, To Everybody
BY BARBARA STEWART
Published: December 04, 1994
Whatever the motive for giving, businesses make it easy. Their hints are certainly not subtle. Buildings give out lists of all employees. Newspaper and milk deliverers stick envelopes with the goods. Garages make lists of attendants; some even publicly post a list of who gave how much. The joke, “Merry Christmas from the guys at the garage. Second notice,” exaggerates only slightly.