We’re just… HERE. That feels like a BIG DEAL. And, that being said, I invite you to reflect on all that this evinces. What are you the verdict of?
I was reading an article on the internet about Christmas cards. The article suggested, in not so many words, that Christmas cards were fake; stupid. That the photographs on them were idealised and Not Representative of What’s Really Going On in a family or a person’s life.
Well…duh. They’re Snapshots.
The article goes on dissect the author’s anxiety over Christmas card photos, and to suggest that mom bloggers must have robot children because how else do people get kids and pets to pose?
(I have an answer to this by the way, because I know several Professional Mom Bloggers. At least one of them has about 400 perfect pictures of her kids and dogs posted to her blog and social media every day, however, every single goddamn surface in her home and car is inexplicably…sticky. There MAY be bloggers whose kids and pets are perfectly photographed, AND their homes and cars are spotless, but my Sticky Blogger Friend agrees with me that these people have probably made a deal with the Devil.)
I am always disappointed when I find out that people dislike Holiday Cards (NB: I hate Christmas, but I love Christmas Cards). I love it when people seize the opportunity to put forth their Best Selves, or their Funniest Selves, or their Most Sentimental Selves, or take the chance to send a card of any sort at all. I love airbrushed, fake-looking cards where people have clearly spent a fortune on photography. Or took the time to snap 500,000 different photos of themselves and their families in matching chambray shirts and I have to look at the photo multiple times to make sure this is a recent snap and not a 1995 leftover. I love cheesy Christmas letters where families try to cram their kids’ every accomplishment on to a red or green piece of cardstock and ram it down my throat. I adore the pomp, the circumstance – all of it.
Even when my life was in absolute shambles, I still inhaled everyone else’s joyful and sometimes, borderline obnoxious cards. Why? Because other people’s out-of-context successes and triumphs and pretty pictures have never made me feel bad about myself.
I had a really enlightening conversation with a friend about ten years ago. She was older than me, and she was having her second child. She said something like, I never thought I could love anything in the world more than my husband, and I was really worried when I got pregnant because how could there be enough room in my heart for this baby? Then my son was born, and my love multiplied, it didn’t divide. And now I’m having my daughter, and I expect it will do the exact same thing.
I think this is A Thing People Say, by the way. There is probably like, a stock-standard Book of Life Lessons that includes this that you can find in the Self-Help Aisle at Barnes and Noble. But when I had this discussion 10 years ago, these words were New to Me.
This chat changed how I saw things; people; the world. It was such a simple concept – There is Enough to Go Around, and the related concept of, Love Multiplies. So I took it to heart. I tried to put it into practice.
With that in mind, I stopped being weird about other people’s opportunities to share their good news. I stopped being judgmental and offended that people would send “pretentious” letters embiggening seemingly-trivial accomplishments. I began to cherish this stuff for what it was – a chance to communicate in a well-considered format that was not a quickie electronic thing – and catch up with old friends and long, lost family. The messages have only enriched me – they take nothing away.
Maybe I am saying this because I am complicit in the Christmas-Industrial Complex, insofar as it applies to holiday cards, at least. But mostly, my cards are innocuous, out-of-focus, jokey snapshots of my dog wearing hats.
Except for one time.
A few years ago, I took a photo of my dog dressed up like Ralphie from A Christmas Story. The card read: Merry Christmas – Don’t Shoot Your Eye Out! That year, I was behind on getting the cards out, and had just finished addressing them the day the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting happened. Horrified, I threw out 200 Christmas cards; made a donation to one of the victims’ charities; and thanked my lucky stars that I was late on getting the mail out so I didn’t wind up sending a card that referenced shooting to 200 people after a lunatic had just shot up a first grade classroom.
After that, I went right back to putting silly hats on the dog and never looked back.
The point I am trying to make is this: We are all the product of questionable decision-making at one point or another, particularly around the holidays. We can either embrace the hell out of our bad choices, our pomposity, our need to be adored, and our near-misses, and we can love more deeply, and openly because of it or, if you prefer, in spite of it. Or we can divide our love and loyalties, and judge each other and be worse for it.
I’ve tried both methods, and my verdict is in – please send your Christmas cards and letters to my home address.