Even before my children start their annual greed lists, my wife begins a months-long odyssey of creating the perfect family image to send to loved ones at Christmas.
What some people dismiss as an antiquated practice involving such archaic institutions as the U.S. Postal Service, sending Christmas cards is the apogee of the season for Carla, who cannot fully enjoy Christmas until the refrigerator of every person we know is adorned with a unique artistic rendering of our family.
Oh, to be one of those lucky families whose self-appointed public relations manager simply goes to one of those new-fangled websites, uploads a family photo from the past year into a template, electronically transfers a few dollars from their credit card and is finished with another year of sending Christmas cards.
But, alas, when I said “I do” to Carla Barron, I was saying “I do want to make sending Christmas cards an annual chore somewhere between cleaning out the basement and re-doing the kitchen on the difficulty scale.”
Yes, Carla does all the work, but having to offer feedback on her designs is like a bad trip to the optometrist.
“This one or this one?”
“A or B?”
“Clearer or brighter?”
I take some comfort in knowing that when British businessman Sir Henry Cole sent the first Christmas card in 1843 adorned with an image of a family offering a toast around a table, it was roundly criticized for promoting drunkenness. See! People have been making bad decisions with their Christmas card designs from the very beginning. This should take some of the pressure off us, shouldn’t it?
Despite all the customization we go through each year, there really is a method to our madness. We rotate annually between a family portrait and a shot of just the boys. Personally, I’m ready to cede every year to the boys, who for now, seem to be growing in cuteness while we just look older each year.
This year’s twist in our Christmas card was the introduction of a chalkboard. With this device, we could convey such pithy messages as “Merry Christmas” in black and white. Using Mixbook.com, Carla’s creation included a message from each of the boys under the headline “Wishing you a new year filled with …”
Barron and Harris stayed in the normal and somewhat predictable range of “joy” and “happiness,” both good sentiments. Carlton, as usual, went somewhat off the map with his wish. The conversation went something like this:
“Carlton, what do you want to wish everyone? Wishing you a new year filled with… what?” Carla asked.
“Good,” he said.
“Good what?” she asked, hoping to elicit something more grammatically correct.
Out of the mouths of babes.
There are nine days until Christmas. Almost all the shopping is done. The kids are on their last school day of the year, and I’m prepping for two weeks of Christmas vacation myself. We’ve been to numerous parties, spent time with friends, experienced meaningful worship and enjoyed family traditions that make this season so special.
I am most happy to report that the Wallace family Christmas card is done and on the way to you or, better yet, already on your mantel or other place of honor.
Whether or not it conveys the message we wanted or portrays our family in the best light, it’s done. Now I can have at least six weeks before I have start giving my opinion on what next year’s Christmas card needs to look like.
Think I’ll get started on those good naps.
Do you send Christmas cards? What’s your process? Do you do photo cards? How do you choose your message? Do you still do a Christmas letter? Leave your comment below and share your pain with us. This Christmas therapy is free!