Monday, January 6, 2014

A Yuletide Nemesis: The Christmas Card

As I sit here in my cyber-confessional, guilt trickles from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes.  I received, yet, I gave not.  Beautiful family photos with artistic designs landed in our mailbox day after day after day throughout the holiday season magnifying my own personal dilemma.  The bar was set so high that I crumbled under the peer pressure.

I did not send out Christmas cards this year.  
Not one.  
True story.

Let's begin in the beginning.  My Christmas card history didn't really get into full and faithful swing until little boys began to spring up in our household.  Oh, their precious faces and silly antics!  Oh, so many cute quips and quotes!  The words of our Christmas letters flew from my fingers to the page in an 8 pt font into single spaced lines with 1/2 inch margins all around.  Tales of forts and "klubs" and skateboards and Suburban-flipping (new driver...) poured from my heart.  Those Christmas letters marked the genesis of blogging for me.  They date back to the '90's and most of the early ones were handwritten and covertly Xeroxed at the my husband's bank-o'-the-day.

Exhibit A
Exhibit B
(My All-Time Favorite)
Life was so simple then.  I bought 1/2 price matching sweaters at Gap in January.  Then come fall, it was simply a matter of picking the location for the "shoot," slicking back hair, and wiping peanut butter off of chins.  A big thanks to Alan for standing behind me acting like he was either pulling dollar bills (the bribery money) out of my ears or just about to give me a big sloppy wet willie while I shot the picture.

Last year, we sent out a recreation of the above picture.  The boys were pretty pumped about restaging their poses but put a big ix-nay on wearing matching red shirts.

Unless I miss my guess, Alan was probably behind me acting
like he was pulling ten dollar bills out of my ears.
Now, the boys are grown and gone.  The times that they are all together standing in my kitchen are few and far between.  So when I began imaginating (just got home from seeing Saving Mr. Banks) our 2013 card, I scrolled through the past months of pictures in search of that one perfect - no, LUCKY - shot.  Below is the only group photo I could come up with.  Problem:  The obvious bright sun effect.  And, missing people:  Grandpa and his wife (also named Carolyn), Nana, and ME.  Also, Leonard (far right) isn't technically a family member.  He's the Meems' best friend from Raider Ranch.  It would be weird if he was in the picture without Grandpa, Carolyn, Carolyn and Nana...  It gets complicated.  You're shaking your head mumbling, "Mmm Hmmm."  You, too, have faced the same dilemma.

Turns out there was never a Plan A.

Plan B:  Comb through hundreds of pictures in search of an appropriately sized and optimally flattering picture of each boy - preferably all "head shots."  According to Tiny Prints little computer elves' "warnings," some of the pictures were lacking in the "high quality" department.  "You can certainly use that picture!" they teased, "But we can't be held responsible for how terrible it's going to look.  It's up to you."

Plan C:  Aha!  I know what I'll do!  I'll have each boy take a fun selfie of himself - a selfie that represents what each boy is "all about."  For Reed, it would probably involve watching Baylor football.  Jonathan could take a picture of himself sitting next to one of those huge recording thingys with all the knobs and buttons at Chicago Recording Company.  Bryce's could be at a fun street fair in Chicago since he's a newby to the city and still enjoys every outdoor "feeding" opportunity.

I begged.
I pleaded.
I threatened to take matters into my own hands.

Then, I declared defeat.

I don't know how you other moms do it.  I've seen your casual family group shots on facebook.  You're "Hey, Everybody Look At Me" pix are like professional portraits compared to my most vigorous efforts.  My boys simply don't have the time or patience to pose for pictures.

Just before Jonathan and Bryce flew back to Chicago the Sunday after Christmas, I finally guilted them into a come-as-you-are photo session in the sunroom.  

"Do we have to take the picture outside?  It's too cold!"
No, Goldilocks, we can stay inside where the temperature is JUST RIGHT.

"Do we have to wear something in particular?  I don't want to be in the picture if you're expecting us to wear the matching sweaters Mimi gave us for Christmas!"
No, Goldilocks, whatever you are wearing will be JUST RIGHT.

"Is this gonna take very long, 'cause we have a plane to catch!"
No, Goldilocks, I'll keep it brief so that our timing will be JUST RIGHT.

I shot exactly 3 pictures.  In the other two, the smiles seem more "forced."  Lacking a background of mountains or a beach or some significant landmark or a wedding cake or a building with peeling paint, this is not what I'd call Christmas Card Worthy but will have to suffice.

The Good News:  This year all of our bills and birthday cards will sport stamps with Jesus and the Virgin Mary on them.  The KING OF KIIIIIIINGS!  FOREVER AND EVER!


Holly said...

Oh Carolyn - it is so true - harder and harder to get them to be in a picture together! Now we are just happy to have them home once in awhile! I did miss your card but you have made up for it! Love ya - Boz

lulu said...

I TRULY MISSED MY LACKEY CARD THIS YEAR. I do so understand. We went from Christmas Lite to Christmas Zero this year as far as decorating was concerned ( ask Violet). They do grow up. New traditions have had to be started. Fun still prevails!!!


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