Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Photo Families

Deb: When I was growing up my parents always sent Christmas cards. Most people did. It was the thing to do. They had their list of the usual suspects and an extra box waiting nearby in case some lesser friend or neighbour sent an unexpected card. Receiving an unexpected card would send my Mom into a frenzy. The second the surprise card was out of its envelope, my mom was––with split-second timing––signing, addressing, and running to the mailbox to do the Christmas card payback.

We do the same thing now. The little box of cards waiting for their chance to say to someone, “Hey, we didn’t really forget you and it’s not that we don’t like you, it’s just that you weren’t on the list”. After someone sends a surprise card they are on the list forever. They may never send us a card again, but from our end, they have joined the Christmas Card Club.

This year, as every year, we have to update the list to accommodate death, divorce, and relocation. It is an ugly reminder as the year comes to an end of all the changes that have occurred in the past year. But we do it dutifully and we send. We are senders of Christmas Cards, a tradition that is quickly going the way of the 8-track. I know that we should be “e-ing” our cards, but I just can’t break the tradition. I know how much I love getting cards in the mail ... the actual mail. I think it shows that someone cared and made an effort. And for no other reason, it is keeping an old and lovely tradition alive. Hell, we kill enough trees with other stuff.

When I had my own family, it was my turn to indulge in a special part of the Christmas card world that always eluded our family when I was growing up. The photo card! Love the photo cards! When I was a kid I would always look on with envy at people who sent the photo cards. By what Christmas miracle did they pull that together? The family seated around the fireplace all buffed and polished, decked out in their red and green finery, sporting festive smiles. I would stare and stare at the picture, scrutinizing each family member and thinking how I wanted to be in a photo card just once. Because I imagined, it wasn’t just the photo itself that was wonderful. It was the day surrounding it. I would envision them finishing the photo, then gathering around the buffet table for brunch still dressed in their red and green, eating perfect food and looking all the world like the definitive Christmas family.

We never did the photo thing in our family and I don’t know why. It might be because every time a camera rears its lens in my mother’s direction, she screeches, “For Godssake, don’t get me in the picture!” Despite her camera shy demeanor, I did think to myself, “Gee, my brother and I aren’t too horrible to look at, what about us?” Clearly I was deceiving myself. For example, 1966 was a particularly ugly Christmas for me and my brother, so if by some chance that happened to be the year my parents considered making a photo card, our awkward skinny, bad hair, pimply presentation nixed it!

But since then, with the aid of photo retouching and superior acne cream, I have picked up the photo card tradition. We don’t do it every year but we do it once in a while. This year was not an ugly year per say, but it was an ugly hair year for me. I was growing my hair out from very short back to a bob. The photo day in question was NOT a good hair day. Under most circumstances I would have forgone the photo for this year. But ... new puppy trumped my hair and we did the photo. So ...

 From our Family to Yours
 Pee’s on Earth,
 Love, Colin, Deb Luke, Fanny and the Bairn

Barbara: Oh, my beautiful Deb—first of all, I think you look GORGEOUS in your Christmas photo, “bad” hair and all. And I know you know this already, but I LOVE these photos, period. So frickin’ cute I could stare at them all day. Luuuuuuke! And puuuuuuppies!!!

That said, I am a notoriously bad letter and card writer/sender (1. Ask my grandparents, and 2. See this post from June). So Christmas cards, sadly, are not on my list. BUT I love love love getting them (my selfish side on display for all of you).

Luckily, my husband has taken it upon himself to make sure we have a yearly festive photo that he will email out with good wishes. We haven’t done ours yet this year (he’s been crazy-busy), but I hope we can finagle something on time for the BIG DAY.

Beauty is, for the sake of playing fair, I can include a fave here. Stefanie has wanted us to do a really cheesy pose for ages now––which we may yet do––something in the vein of fifties sweater-sets and far-off gazes. But then one man’s cheesy is another man’s super-classy, so it might be tricky…

We will be blogging next week, but I still want to add to today’s cardly sentiments:
Christmas Card 2005

Our family wishes you all the best
Happy Holidays and Much Love and Joy
Barbara, Philippe, Stefanie, Michele, and Chaplin


  1. These are both gorgeous photos! I love when we get photo cards from friends. We've never done it, but I do so enjoy receiving them.

    I like the idea of emailing a card. We've stopped mailing cards due to cutbacks, but email is easy. Thank you for the idea!

  2. Any method to send a Christmas card or any card for that matter, is the right way. I love to get festive greetings in any form. I do love getting my mailed cards though for another reason and this was an idea my sister in law gave to me-I cut the cards up after Christmas using ribbed scissors and a single hole punch and use them as my Christmas gift tags for the next year! Cool huh?

  3. I have to have an updated photo taken each year. My family likes to have one of me for some reason every single year. I was hopeing not to have on taken this year,but no I had to have one. Not only do my Christmas photo's go in the Christmas cards,but mying also go on facebook. That way all my friends can see them as well,which I don't mind. Anyways, those photo's of your all's family look so good.

  4. Lyndsie I think that's so lovely that your family wants an updated shot each year. What a lovely tradition.

  5. Love the photo cards. The yearly update is an interesting thing. You brag about everything the family did that year. I want a bad Christmas letter telling about all the trials and tribulations the family overcame or better yet all the pay it forwards people did. Since I have never sent a card in my life this year will be no exception. I have received Hanukkah, Holiday and Christmas ones so far. The kids are adorable or in some cases the grand kids. I have a big basket in my living room where I put all my photos (took them out of albums) and every time someone comes over they are pulling pictures and you could get me as a child or my grown kids as babies etc. Much better than albums know one every sees.

  6. Madge I am sooooooo stealing that idea. Next year I am going to put out all my Photo cards over the years for people to glance through. LOVE IT!!!!! As you say, I have some where the babies now have babies. Wonderful.

  7. I don't send cards either, and pictures never do justice to my great beauty (hork!), but I love to receive cards -- though only if they include something more than best wishes and a signature. It's kind of a downer when there isn't even a short note. Those annual Christmas reports that people sometimes send are a real treat to sit down and read, and a photo thrown in makes things even better. Your guys's are lovely!

  8. Deb, I put every photo I own in the basket except for an occasional trip where it is places that I need to mark on the back or keep in the album and my wedding to my ex. They are the only albums. I got the idea from my Daughter-in-laws mother. It is a great conversation piece. This way they really do get looked at.

  9. Oh, those are both GREAT pictures! We have only done it a couple times--usually with just the kids. My problem is the opposite of Barb's--I am TOO good a letter writer and want to be personal with everyone and it just overwhelms me to think about. better to do them over the year, spread out a little.

    Deb, i think your hair is darling, but even if it weren't, agree that the puppy nEEDED displaying. Barb-I love your pink haired daughter--personality jumps off the screen every time I see her.

  10. Hart I have the same problem. I love to write notes but I had to give it up. I see what Katie means from her point of view about being disappointed not to receive a personal note but frankly, we send out 250 Christmas cards and I think of each and every person as I stamp and label them. I always hope that people are just happy to have a little Festive greeting from us.

  11. love the photos. cannot get enough photos (what is wrong with me? is this what fb has done?). I am also a non-card sender (also, a jew, so chalking it up to that), but still envy those who can get it together to both get the photos taken and then get them into card form and then send them out to dozens. For me, it's thank god for fb and email. Happy holidays to you both and your beautiful families. And, Deb, must say it STILL surprises me to see your husband there in your photos -- i was a huge Whose Line is it Anyway fan back in the day, and then my younger son, on reruns. *giggles idolstruckedly*

  12. Oh, Deb, just have to add to that too. I really really don't mind getting "just a greeting". I excitedly display all my received cards on my "happy wall". Some, like yours, showcase wonderful family photos (or playful variations thereof) and some are traditional cards with greeting. I treasure each and every one. Even the ones from the the bank and our newspaper delivery guy. But I keep forgetting to recycle them in the smart way you do (see Deb's 1st comment). Those tags look AMAZING!

  13. I'm so with you on this, Deb. I love sending cards and take particular pride in mine being the first one received. All of my friends tell me every year, "Yep. Yours was the first one again." Pathetic that I am, it thrills me no end! And I'm with you on the picture card as well. I remember feeling exactly the way you did. So envious of those kids whose families actually got it together enough to get the pictures taken. We never did do that, but now my daughter does it with her kids and I love love love it! BTW, your hair looks fab!!

    Merry merry Christmas to you and your families, Barb and Deb. Looking forward to a great 2011 with The Middle Ages. - Anne (still can't figure out the stupid profile thing - and I teach computers. Scary.)

  14. Well, actually, I don't teach computers. I teach people how to use computers. Perhaps I should teach grammar. - Anne again

  15. Lovely pictures! Lovely, lovely, supercute pictures!

    I'm chuckling a little over the Chanukah thing being brought into this discussion. Every year, I get Easter and Christmas greetings from a beloved friend who is a rabbi, and every year he gets High Holy Days and Chanukah greetings from me. LOL

    Add me to the list of non-Christmas card senders. I quit sending Christmas cards the winter my marriage broke up. There was nothing merry about a destroyed family. As time has passed, I've never gone back to sending cards because most of my friends have shifted over to animated e-cards. The only snailmail Christmas cards I get every year anymore are from my parents, my grandmother, and my best friend from college (his wife sends out picture cards because everyone is always clambering for a new pic of their darling little boys). This year, I got a surprise snailmail card from my cousin, but it makes sense because it was a collage photo card showing his wedding picture from this year, his new stepson, and the ultrasound photo of their tadpole. That Happy Holidays card (he's Jewish, she's Catholic) was their "we're expecting!" announcement after having let family members know a week or so earlier.

    Everyone else has gone digital or just doesn't bother with cards at all anymore. I know a lot of people dropped the Christmas card thing last year or the year before because of harsh economic setbacks for their households. Cards and postage became an unaffordable luxury for several families in my circles when they got smacked by the recession.

  16. Yeah Gae you're right. No matter what the effort it's all about sending goodwill. And I know it's past Gae but Happy Hannukkah! And yeah it's funny about the card. Of course I look at it and see my husband but I sometimes forget, you know? The celebrity Colin I call "the other". xoxo

  17. "I always hope that people are just happy to have a little Festive greeting from us. "

    It never occurred to me that my momentary disappointment is actually like looking a gift horse in the mouth, which it is! Sorry about that.

  18. Oh dear Kate please don't be sorry. I just thought I might tip you to the other side of it. I am so excited doing and mailing my cards that I think people will be as thrilled as I am. I always think when something like this occurs to me-it's all perspective ain't it? xo

  19. It's all about hiding the doublechin. Curse that doublechin!

  20. Beautiful family pics- brought a smile to my face.
    Love to you ladies, and your wonderful families.

  21. Doublechin M.J. gotcha! Thanks Holleye and Love to you and yours too!

  22. I think my great grandmother started us all out of giving Christmas cards. Each year my grandmother always gets lots and lots of cards. She get cards from not only her family but friends of her's that she has not seen in 30 years. And every year that we go down to her home from Christmas supper she always has then out on her table for everyone to see them. She gets so happy that everyone has sent her one and has tooken time to actually give her one and to think of her. She loves when they have notes in them but loves them even more when they have photo's in them,she always takes the photo;s and hanges them up on her wall. After Christmas she puts the cards in a photo book and saves them. Not sure why she saves them,but who am I to disagree with her. When some one gives her a card you better believe that she will be sending one back your way. She sends out so many. But she likes doing that and she is so happy to while she is sending them. She really gets in the Christmas spirt.

  23. Deb-

    Does it wierd you out that we see "the other"?

  24. I love the idea of Christmas cards, and held out longer than most people. But somewhere along the line, they got replaced by e-cards, which are now getting replaced by facebook greetings. Which is such a pity, because it is so impersonal :-(

    I adore your hair in the pic, Deb. If that is a bad hair day, I want your bad hair days. And Luke looks like what I want my boys to be in a couple of years.
    Love your 2005 Christmas card too, Barbara. I presume Chaplin is the cute kid you are holding up- doesn't Mr. Snowy feel left out?

  25. Love the pictures - my son is almost 10 and we've never had a family picture. We are so sad.

    And Deb, when I saw yours I thought "OMG, she's married to Colin - her house must be hilarious!" (then I doubted myself because no one said anything about it being him, but thankfully Gae swooped in and saved me) So, yes, your house must be hilarious!! Merry Christmas.

  26. I've thought that too, Erica. Deb is a hoot and Colin is a cracker and put the two together, they must have loads of fun.


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