It really is the most wonderful time of the year. Cold weather calls for a fire in the fireplace, twinkling Christmas lights cast a whimsical glow on all that shines and, let us not forget, the familiar music evokes memories of baking sugar cookies and drinking just a tad too much eggnog. Christmas is upon us and the good times are plentiful; unfortunately, so are the not-so-good times. I’m not a Scrooge by any means; I’m just a realistic mother of two.
The tree is up; the baby has learned what “no” means and presents are wrapped. The snow village twinkles delightfully in the front window and the stockings are snug in their spots by the fire. We Lashleys are ready for Christmas except for one last, tiny detail: The dreaded Christmas card. Now, when I was coming along the Christmas card was just that, a card. A piece of paper folded in half with a cheery little Christmas wish stamped on the inside. If you were lucky, someone actually wrote a nice little message along with the standard signature. These days, it’s an entirely different situation all together.
Let’s have a lesson in the ways of the more “modern” Christmas card. First, it must be made of photo paper, preferably glossy. The more shine, the better: You must highlight how gorgeous your brood really is (And by that we mean more gorgeous than all of those other children.). The next step is to select the appropriate background for your card. Snow falling, ornaments (my personal favorite), a sleigh with all of the children as the reindeer – whatever really gets you in that Christmas spirit. The most important decision is, of course, which photos you will place on the card.
This is how we get to the portrait studio. We all arrive looking quite merry in our Christmas finery. The children are matching in brilliant red (the better to highlight them) and Mommy and Daddy are wearing appropriate background colors (Again, to make the children stand out better!). As we are being arranged in the happy family pose in front of a quite realistic background, I notice the beginnings of disaster. My handsome little man was on the fast track to resembling some other less-than-savory character that is usually associated with being red. Yes, that’s right, the devil I say. He goes limp like a noodle whenever the photographer tries to position him; she says “Stand up,” he sits down, she says, “Smile,” he sticks out his tongue.
As I am thinking all of this, Daddy is becoming more and more agitated. Before you can say Frosty the Snowman, Daddy has yanked his little behind into the waiting area and is giving him what for, which we all know means no more pictures for Mommy. Thankfully, we were able to get some good ones before all you-know-what broke loose; by the way the baby was just lovely throughout.
Miracle of all miracles occurred and I actually have a wonderful card to send out this year. But, one thing I do not do that has become standard with the pictorial card is the “letter.” The “letter” just riles me up for some reason, probably because I have zero time to sit down and type out a two-page summary of the past year. Jealousy is all it is, I’m sure, but I do find them quite annoying. The “letter” is a summary of what the family has been up to for the past year, you know: “Little Johnnie was accepted to MIT at the age of 5. Can you believe it? And Susie is now dancing on Broadway, even though she hasn’t hit puberty yet.” I get that sort of letter, sent along with the perfect picture that I was striving for on my card. But, I’ll tell you, my card is quite spectacular this year, even though my little man’s eyes are closed and the baby’s hands are in her face; at least they are smiling and you know what, that’s all that matters.