A few thoughts on Christmas cards

Hopefully, everyone’s had a chance to get a good peek at the 2011 Puddintopia Holiday Card.  I mean, everyone sure should have seen it by now.  I’ve left it up there long enough, right?  I was just so proud of it, though.  Just looking at it, you can tell by the hastily drawn lines and sloppy, irregular paint-brushing effect in the Santa hats that I spent hours agonizing over every last detail.  Sure, child #3 was given no facial features whatsoever, but that’s because it’s, um, interpretive.  Or something.


Anyway, you might find it surprising that I did not simply dump out a stick-figure reproduction of our actual family Christmas card for 2011.  Isn’t there a Photoshop script or filter to do that?  Regardless, that’s not what I did.  Sure, there are similarities: we have four kids and all four are represented in both, and yes, the Puddinette and I are both included.  But that’s about the end of it.  No red hats.

Believe it or not, the real picture is actually much nicer than my mouse-scrawled representation.  In it everyone is mostly sitting still, smiling pleasantly, and looking happy.  That obviously stands in contrast to my version, where the majority of the poor stickies appear to have all just ingested a full serving of Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.  And not the tasty chocolate-covered kind.

That said, truth be told, I’m not terribly pleased with the picture we chose for this year’s cards.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great picture.  Probably one of the better ones taken of me and the family in years.  But therein lies the problem: I shouldn’t be in it.  No one needs a picture of me hanging among their holiday card menagerie.

I just can’t help but think that putting a picture of my own ugly mug on a Christmas photo is a vague form of vanity.  I never think that when I look at other people’s cards – I’m happy to see them – but when it comes to myself, it seems like I’m saying, "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, oh, and look at me, here I am, Love ME!*"

The Puddinette tells me I’m being ridiculous, and that I should accept that fact that people want to see the whole family on such cards, just as I look forward to getting a glimpse at others.  My mother no doubt agrees with her.  And if nothing else in life, I’ve learned that when my wife and mother agree on something I disagree with, well, the battle’s over, the cause is straight-up lost.  No point in wheeling out the artillery or forming up ranks; any attempt to field an argument is going to end in Pickett’s Charge.

And quite possibly the doghouse, if not the florist.

Of course, if you really asked my opinion, I’d plead that we all go back to actual cards and not this photo-based stuff so much in favor these days.  You remember those right? Greeting cards?  Folded pieces of card stock with a cover, an inside where you added a little customize note and a signature, and a back page with a brand logo by which everyone can apparently judge you by your willingness to overspend**.

Personally, when it comes to greeting cards, I’m strictly a 99-cent guy.  If can’t find a card to convey the right sentiment for less than a buck, it’s time to break out the word processer and the clip art.  Well, except for those times I forget to get a card until the last minute and end up at the grocery store the night before my anniversary.  You gotta take what you can get at times like that, even if it does cost $5.99.

Thankfully, that’s never happened.

Back to Christmas, am I really suggesting that we go back to the old cards?  Not really, no.  Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of these newfangled photo-based things, because, well, I can be downright curmudgeonly when I want to.  I like the old traditions, and sort of miss the way the cards would hang and flap open off the closet door where we’d have them taped. 

But the fact is that when it comes to getting out the Christmas cards, I’m pretty good at taking them to the post office once they’ve been addressed, labeled, stamped, and are fully ready to ship.  The rest of the process requires forethought, attention to detail, good penmanship, and, if possible, a glittery decorative pen that matches the holiday colors.

I’m capable of contributing exactly zero of those things to the effort.

So, when the Puddinette tells me that we’re getting photo cards that includes a nice shot of all of us, not just of the kids, and yes, that includes me, she gives me two options: I can either nod my head sagely and agree with her, or I can do the whole thing my own damned self.

To which I can only reply…

Look at me, here I am, Love Me!


*That’s a quote, by the way, from when Luigi is pimping whitewalls to Lightning McQueen in the original "Cars" movie.  All the kids have loved that movie; I have to have seen that one 6 or 7 thousand times.

**Hallmark: When you care enough to spend the very best, or, well, don’t really care that much but don’t want people to think you’re cheap.