The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Monday, December 05, 2005

The annual holiday card dilemma

Do I use the picture in which Julia is smiling beautifully but Evan resembles a giraffe? The one in which he looks completely darling but she is making a face which embodies everything I hate about the "nearly 4" stage? The one that's lousy of both of them but is beautifully set with an attractive background? Or the reasonably clear, completely unremarkable photo in which no one is really looking quite at the camera or smiling, but no one is doing anything offensive either?

There's too much empty space on the card if I just put our names, so clearly I need a greeting of some sort. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy New Year? That's a mouthful -- and a boring one at that. Season's greetings from our family to yours? A big fat ick all around. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2006? The Grammar Bitch in me cannot help but note that this is not a complete sentence. Maybe I could use a dash instead of an exclamation point?

Before I had children, I bought a couple of packs of holiday cards, wrote them all out in an hour in front of the TV, stuck them in the mail and that was that. And now, suddenly, the holiday card tradition has become the albatross of my holidays season; a month-long obsessive quest for perfection. Every year, as I devote the better part of December to dressing my children up in strange outfits and chasing them around with a camera in search of the perfect holiday card photo, I wonder who the hell I'm doing all of this obsessing for.

No one on my holiday card list is going to look twice at whatever I send. They will say "look how cute" regardless of whether anything about the picture or the card is actually cute, because that's just what you say when holiday cards arrive. They will hang our card up with all of their other holiday greetings (or they will stuff it in a drawer or the trash, I suppose) and they will check their own lists to make sure they've sent us their card, which, truth be told, I won't look at all that closely either. I know all of this. And yet, just as I do every year, I've spent an embarrassing amount of time worrying about my holidays cards over the past few weeks.

Forget the integration of Chanukah and Christmas into one household. Forget long lists and people who are hard to buy for. Forget the crowds and the chaos and the items out of stock. This is what I find myself worrying about three weeks before Chanukah and Christmas. Insanity.


At 2:51 PM, Blogger Rosemary said...

I only have minor pangs of guilt anymore about all of the holiday stuff that I don't do - pangs muted by years of diligent practice. I find so much of what we *do* for the season takes away from my enjoyment of the season. I don't like to shop for everyone I know in a 4 week period with a gun to my head -- not my definition of fun! I don't like to have to communicate with everyone I know when this is one time of year I like to make magical for my family. I've long ago come to terms with being the hoiday Grinch and am much more peaceful, if not happy, for the decision.

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Steph said...

I can totally relate. I think that I might bypass the whole thing this year. A couple of months ago, I got a really cute impromptu picture of the girls which I immediately ordered 20 copies of and sent out to the list of assorted family and friends, far and wide. So, everyone's got a recent pic of the kids... does that let me off the holiday card hook? :)

At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Holly said...

This entry is just another reason why I love reading your blog! I swear we are living the same life. . .I have been chasing the girls with the camera for 2 months now. After a 100's of pics (thank god for digital) I finally got one that will be okay! Why is this such a big deal??? Each year I tell myself it won't be...and next year I'll have three to photograph! LOL! I am sure you'll get a pic that makes everyone smile!

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

We've taken 86 photos - in various places in various outfits - over the past 3 weeks. Do we have one decent photo? Nope. I want to shout that I give up but then I keep thinking if I try just one more. Why do I feel like the holiday photo is somehow a reflection of my parenting over the past year? And that our photo screams: what's WRONG with those kids? ;)

At 9:44 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

You got my card yet? I'm almost embarrassed, after this discussion. I just go the highly illegal route. You'll see...Another reflection of my parenting skills (or values), entirely.


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