Ahhh … the annual Christmas card race, um, I mean exchange. It’s a favorite holiday tradition. Beginning in October (or April), I start planning the outfits that my children will wear. I book the photographer. I scour the websites for the best design and I update my card list.
The week before Thanksgiving, I’ll address the envelopes, maybe I’ll use my fancy-schmancy doodle book that I bought on clearance last January. Or maybe I’ll spend three hours looking for the book and finally just address them with a blue Bic.
On Thanksgiving Day, on our way home from my husband’s folks’ home, we’ll drop the cards in the first postal drop box that we find. I’ll raise my hands in triumph, smashing them against the SUV’s roof and declare myself the winner of the annual Christmas card race, um, I mean exchange. Ya know … if there were a winner.
(But if there were, it’d be me! Cue “We Are The Champions.”)
My family makes fun of me because I devote so much time and energy into the postal exchanging of holiday greetings. But, when the cards start rolling in (at least two weeks after I’ve sent mine out, like a boss), they all enjoy looking at the cards and catching up with friends old and new (and sometimes unknown). I see the Christmas card as a universal symbol of connection—and what better time to connect with others than the holidays?
This year was no different. I booked the photographer and planned on the outfits. This year we’d go with blacks, whites and reds. Then, I began searching for the perfect cards.
I chose three different designs: One whimsical with lots of color, one more serious in case I really liked a black-and-white print and one just because it was bigger and better than any we received last year. (Oh wait. Did I just say that aloud?)
Then, the big day came: The day I’d be preparing for since February. The day of pictures. My girls spent hours doing their hair. Now that they are teens, they take great pride in making sure their hair is just perfect and then proclaiming it to be stupid and dumb and lamenting the fact that they can’t do anything with it.
I made sure we were all wearing the right clothes, we had brushed teeth (in case this is the year that scratch and sniff Christmas cards make their appearance) and that our accessories were appropriate. Case in point: self-made beaded earrings in orange and black have no place on the front of my cards.
And then my husband announced that he had a meeting. He had a meeting. He had a meeting at the exact same time that we were scheduled to have our Christmas card pictures taken.
If I hadn’t known better, I’d have thought he’d done it on purpose. Scratch that. I do know better. I’d put good money on the fact that he planned it on purpose.
No worries, though. The girls and I would go. The past couple of years, we’d ended up using pictures of only them on the cards anyway, so it would all work out.
We met at one of our gorgeous local parks. Our photographer made the traditional jokes about the girls not growing at all, even though our oldest daughter is a full inch taller than I am, at least. He’d snap a few candid shots of the girls straightening their hair, their necklaces, their outfits, then we’d get down to business.
An hour and approximately 4,000 shots later, we paid the photog, thanked him for making us feel like celebrities and we parted ways.
From what I thought the pictures looked like according to my mind’s eye, I finalized my card design and waited ever so (im)patiently for the pictures to be ready.
Finally, I got the call and retrieved our disc of copyright-free pictures and quickly breezed through 112 of the most gorgeous shots I’ve ever seen in my life.
There was the shot of my older daughter looking thoughtfully away from the camera, running her fingers through her hair, unaware that the camera is focused on her and even more unaware of what a beautiful young lady she’s becoming.
There was the shot of my younger daughter, mugging for the camera—I’m sure she had just cracked a joke at the photographer’s expense, her gorgeous, laughing face matching the gorgeous, laughing soul.
Not one of those pictures had a single flaw.
But … There was a tiny problem: There was not one shot of the girls together.
So, I paid extra to have the card company use a stock photograph of a lovely family of five. I’ve always wanted to have a boy.
Heather Davis is a momma, a writer and has a slight Christmas card fetish. Her latest ebook, “What The Elf Saw” is available on Amazon. She and her family of four (two girls, no boys) live in Oklahoma.