I hate holiday cards these days. Gone are the days of sentiment, well-wishes, or spiritual words. No more Christmas letters outlining familial achievements of the past year. No more envelopes of cash from Grandma. Instead, starting the 1st of December, I receive an onslaught of photo cards that continues until the late bloomers ship theirs out in early-February. The tell-tale envelopes give it away, and out slide glossy pictures of my friends and family. They are smiling and affectionate; their hair is washed and their husbands are probably wearing pants. Their arms are slung around their adorably coordinated moppets wearing holiday-hued attire. For one moment, immortalized by the camera, everyone gets along, everyone loves each other, and everyone wishes me a “Happy Holidays! Peace & Love, The Smithsons.”
Stupid Smithsons and their stupid stupid holiday card, which is stuck to my fridge, along with 25 other ones. Each card I receive reminds me of my failings as a parent and amateur photographer.
The first 100 attempts at snapping the Holiday Card picture are epic fails. My 2-year old refuses to sit next to her 8-month old sister, preferring to contort herself out of all pictures of the two of them. Perhaps it’s because the baby has been stewing in her own diaper juices for a while. Or because she’s been wearing the same pair of pajamas for three days. When I finally strong-arm them both onto the loveseat, the words “say cheese!” cause my toddler to bear her teeth like a miniature zombie and jam a pencil up her nose, while the baby manages to flip upside down and wedge herself between the couch cushions. Happy holidays!
And then, through sheer grit (and a ton of bribery, cajoling, and empty threats), I get that magical shot, where both kids are clean, facing forward, and more or less expressing Peace & Love. I send this Holiday Card so that everyone will know that, for 30 seconds out of the year, we’re great parents. Don’t be fooled- the photo omits the mayhem, the “diapers-as-hats,” and the stickiness that comes before that fateful click. But no one wants to put that on their fridge.
Or perhaps you do. If you, too, enjoy that hearty mix of jealousy, exhaustion, and inadequacy this season, feel free to display our real holiday card (you should get it by mid-February):
Ali & Family