When I was a kid my parents got Christmas cards from most of their friends, but back then, most of them were just plain old cards with a picture of Santa or a cardinal or the words Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays written across the front.
Hardly anyone sent out cards with pictures on them.
In fact, we only ever got one Christmas card that was a photo. It was from the family I babysat for and my mom was friends with the kids’ mom and the girls also swam on the swim team.
Relative to my family, they were super rich. At least that’s what I thought at the time.
And so I associated photo Christmas cards with wealthy people.
Ten or fifteen years later after I had become a teacher, I started getting cards from families at Christmas, and the majority of them were photo cards.
And they were always super cute and that was when I decided when I had kids I was gonna send out photo cards, too.
Then when I had kids it wasn’t even optional.
Everyone sent out photo cards.
And I jumped right on the wagon.
I can’t find the very first one I did, but here is 2006. Look what we found under the tree!
I was pretty proud of that one. Now the bar had been set.
2007 was equally cute, I thought.
In 2008, the idea was good, but the execution?
Not so much.
And this is where things started going downhill, because I was a borderline lunatic during that shoot.
I wasn’t getting a good picture and the kids weren’t always cooperating, and it’s pretty obvious by their expressions.
They were OVER IT.
In 2009 we had moved, and there was one more kid, so I went for a different idea.
It took quite a few shots to get this one.
And I was a bitch by the end of that session, too.
2010 we moved in front of the tree because there was another kid now and they couldn’t all fit in the bed.
In theory this was a good idea, but Number 5 was not really cooperating. 😂
Also, HOW CUTE WAS NUMBER 6.
2011 was Number 7’s arrival, so I went back to 2006’s idea.
Number 6 kept trying to rip the tissue out of the box, and I never really did get a focused picture.
In 2012, we did a pool picture.
On the card it said, “7 Swans A Swimming.”
In theory this one was cute, but the execution sucked and it wasn’t as perfect as other peoples’ and I was not having fun and the kids were not having fun.
And that’s when I had a come to Jesus moment.
I was doing these cards for all the wrong reasons.
It wasn’t to spread the Christmas spirit or joy or anything like that.
It was to outdo other people and outdo what I had done the year before.
What was once kind of fun had turned into something everyone was dreading.
Another really big thing for me was when people first started sending out Christmas photo cards you wouldn’t see anyone for months or even years at a stretch, and it was nice to see how big the kids were getting and what everyone looked like.
But by 2012, Facebook was in full swing.
Everyone knew what my kids looked like because I post pictures of them all the time.
I still do.
But also by 2012, my Christmas card list was totally out of hand. I was sending cards to people I hardly even knew.
Which brings me to the next thing…
It was really f&*%$ing expensive!
In addition to the fact that I was a total asshole when I was taking these pictures and the kids weren’t having fun and there was really no need for a photo and it was costing me an arm and a leg, there was the other thing.
It took a lot of time.
And time is one thing I don’t have a lot of.
I’d rather spend the time with my family watching It’s a Wonderful Life rather than wasting ten hours taking photos, ordering cards, printing labels, stuffing envelopes, buying stamps, licking glue, worrying about dying from licking glue (just a joke for my Seinfeld fans) mailing out cards, and then fixing addresses on the cards that would inevitably be returned to me for whatever reason.
Seven years later, do I miss it?
Nope. Not at all.
My life at the holidays is less chaotic (and my wallet is more full) because I took that off my plate.
I do receive a fraction of the cards I used to receive.
Have most of my friends also stopped sending them? Or have they stopped sending them to me because I no longer send cards to them?
I’m not sure.
But if that’s why cards are sent in the first place — only because someone sent one to you and now you “owe” them, well, that’s not really the reason to be doing it anyway, is it?
When I look back at those early cards, do I miss them?
Maybe a little bit.
But not enough to start up again.
And the cards I receive?
I smile when I get them. I like to see your kids on a Christmas card. Even if I just saw them yesterday.
And as long as you are sending me your cards simply because it brings you joy, keep ’em coming.
But if you are doing it out of obligation or self-judgment or because you think you have to?
Well, then maybe you wanna take a minute to think about why you are still sending them out, too.