Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Greetings! We're Better Than You!

Ever since our first kid entered the world 14 years ago, I have always sent out Christmas cards. And while I know plenty of people that are completely satisfied sending out a photo card from Walgreens featuring a recent snapshot of the kids posing in front of a snowman or the Christmas tree, I have always taken a different route. A much more time intensive, high maintenance, not very cheap, maybe I should be checking my sanity, route.

Since both of my boys were born at the end of August, I always had their pictures taken at some point during the month of September. And while I know plenty of people that are completely satisfied with the photo sessions at Sears, JCPenney or ProEx (which is now closed), I took a different route. A much more high maintenance, hey let's drive 45 minutes one-way, please don't have a meltdown while the photographer takes 150 pictures, so much for the $19.95 sitting fee, yes I actually am insane, route. But holy shit do we have some kick ass pictures of the kids, and every year there was always something presentable enough to be sent as a Christmas card.

After Zoe joined our family, we made exactly two more appointments with this photographer before I realized that, going forward, there was no way in hell I was ever going to have the time to make this trip again. For one, the boys were school-age so the luxury of weekday appointments was gone. For two, Zoe wasn't nearly as cooperative with the photographer as the boys had been, and three, I kind of wanted to stop being insane.

The upside of all this is that I now have one less obligation to worry about in the fall, the kids don't have to suffer through a lengthy photo session and the money that was once spent on prints and proofs can now be spent on other, more fun things (like tennis lessons and booze). The downside is that, from ages two to five, Zoe kind of got the shaft when it comes to professional pictures and I'm now responsible for making sure that at some point during the year, I take a picture of the kids that could be considered Christmas card-worthy.

For the last few years, I've sat down at the Mac, sifted through some pictures, maybe even come up with a little poem (and by the way, it's really hard to find a festive word that rhymes with 'vodka'), fit all of the above on a template, clicked "Buy Now" and had the cards in my hand before Thanksgiving. This year, though, it's December First and the only thing I'm holding is my coffee cup. Considering the cost of postage, my limited time, my incessant, inexplicable need to hand-address envelopes rather than use printed labels and my lack of holiday cheer in general, I'm thinking that 2010 is going to be the year for a no-go on the Christmas cards.

But then I started thinking that maybe I should send at least a little something, just so that people don't get their hopes up and wonder if I did finally fall of the face of the Earth. So who knows, maybe in the next couple days something will inspire me, a suitable picture of the kids will magically appear in iPhoto and a free hour or two will materialize, allowing me to click, drag, crop, edit out a zit and Buy Now. But, under no circumstances, no matter how much free time I find myself having to fill, will I be composing a newsletter like one of these:

(originally posted on November 16, 2009)

The Bragfest. "Dominic, at the age of eight, won the science fair at his private school, and his research is now being funded by The Mayo Cancer Center. The $25,000 tuition really is quite a bargain! Our stunning daughter, Shelby, got married in a captivating ceremony on the beaches of Aruba with 360 close friends in attendance, for only $675 per person. Stefan and I decided to downsize this year, saying goodbye to our beloved 23,000 sq. ft. chateau and 5 of our 11 household staff members. In June, we moved into a cozy 9,000 sq. ft. cottage, but still enjoy the afternoon sip of Dom Perignon!"

The "Thank God" Newsletter. "On this, the most glorious of holidays, I thank God for my health, my family, the food we eat, socks, and the paper that these Godly words are printed on. I thank God for giving me the fine motor skills necessary to grasp my pen, the ink in the pen, and giving me the ability to write these wonderful words that have been sent directly to me from Him. And even though the dog got hit by a car this year, Tim got laid off after devoting 28 years to his company, and grandpa Oscar got mauled by the combine, I know that these things happened because God wanted them to, and everything happens for a reason."

Too Much Information. "Sally had a wonderful year in 2009. After participating in Girl Scouts, cello lessons, gymnastics, ballet, riding lessons, cooking classes, and yoga, she hardly has time to eat her dinner of organic spelt and Tofurkey. Sally had an ear infection in February, a cold in April, another cold in March and an itchy elbow in July. After a trip to the emergency room, we were relieved to find out that the itch was just a mosquito bite. Now, about the other 5 kids..."

The Literary Wannabe. "Oh, the most wondrous of seasons, as I settle into the depths of the rich sepia leather upholstery covering my armchair, basking in the warm golden glow of the crackling and popping fire, a snifter of fine brandy near at hand, I feel overwhelmed with emotion thinking about the bountiful miracles that surround me each morn and eve. Oh, how my heart doth ache and throb, reflecting on the past days and joys that I have had the pleasure to witness. I become overwrought with emotion, pondering the future and all that it holds."

The Big Picture. Sometimes a photo card is more informative than the newsletters. Every year I seem to receive a family picture of kids and parents bundled up and posing by snow-covered evergreens. Everyone is in a coat zipped up to the chin, except for mom. Somehow she manages to stay warm wearing only a low cut v-neck sweater, with the evidence of how she spent last year's tax refund hanging out and on full display. Judging by the picture, though, it definitely is cold outside.


Anonymous said...

I think my christmas card will fit under the "short but sweet" category:

Picture of me, head down in my crossed arms, weeping. And a caption that just reads, "Fucking A"

The Mean Mom said...

That does have a nice ring to it, and for a festive touch, you might want to include a red cocktail in the picture, right next to your crossed arm.

Bruce K said...

Jody, you forgot one of my favorites that I look forward to every year: The bad grammer/spelling letter. Karen and I have pretty much made a game of it to see how many mistakes we can locate. (BTW, don't these computer thingies have spell check these days?)

The Mean Mom said...

your surtenly rite Bruce those letturs are really super dooper anoying and i canot figure out hoo they're editers are but their not very brite.

hmaines said...

You are way too funny.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your post. I married into a large family where there a bunch of kids with each of my wife's siblings. I/we get these annoying cards every year from at least a few of my wife's siblings/in-laws. The cards are a mix of bragfest/Thank God types - one of her sisters and her husband (5 kids and growing) will go so far as to not only brag about the kids and all the family achievements, but denote how successful the husband has been in his career and send these out to people who have lost jobs or are having issues with their children. Maybe i sound angry - I'm really not but I am sure that is not what God wants people to do - or at least the God i know. Ultimately, I came to the realization with my sister's help, that these types of cards are really a facade. What is behind the facade is really not whats in the card - everybody has their problems. Some people just choreograph their lives to look like everything is perfect and wonderful - its the only way they feel good about themselves. God has a strange way of putting people in their place - once i realized it i feel better ;-). Somedays i feel like sending a card saying "everything kinda sucks." Then again, that aint the Christmas spirit. A better message may be "hang in there - we're all in this together". Thank you for the post and Happy Holidays - really, I mean that ;-)