My mother has a little photo album that sits on the coffee table during the holiday season. There are 30 photographs lovingly place inside, one for each year that she has been a mother. These photos tell the story of every Christmas from 1987 to 2017.
Now, some of these photos are better than others. There are photos filled with teenage angst, photos that you can tell we snapped frantically. Some are carefully thought out and intentional like this one.
There were some years where we couldn’t get it together and had to use a backup plan. Like in this one:
I am pretty sure this was the year Molly had her first grown up job, and couldn’t get home all year, so mom just snapped this one on an iPhone one random day. I believe Merry’s exact comment on this one was “Darn. You can’t even see my ears and they are my best feature.”
There are photos that tell the story of what happened in the year like this one from Molly’s college graduation:
Or this one, that we didn’t send until after Christmas because I was wed a week before Christmas Eve.
Some of them are hilariously embarrassing like this one, where we were apparently auditioning for an Old Navy Polar fleece commercial.
Or this one, that apparently was an ode to my chins. It was as if mom was trying to say to all her friends “don’t worry, I’m feeding the baby! She’s still alive!”
Some, and this is my favorite part, just show what happy childhoods we had. Truly, the card was a reminder that we really were living a very joyous life, and we wanted to share that joy with others.
At the end of the day, that is why I love Christmas cards. It isn’t the sending of them, per say. The sending is actually a bit of a nightmare sometimes. Getting the family to all agree on a photo is always complex, and frankly, I don’t know how Mom and Dad did it before digital cameras. The stress of developing the photos and not knowing if any of them would turn out and they would have to try again? No thank you!
But receiving the cards was the absolute most fun. It is the only time of year when we would run to the mailbox and find colored envelopes hand addressed instead of just bills. Watching our family and friends grow, especially those that we didn’t see regularly, was such a wonderful treat. (Shoutout to the Naifeh boys – yours was always the most exciting to see!) What I especially loved was that we would often get cards with people I didn’t recognize. I would say to mom “who is this?” and she would always have a story to tell. “Oh, your dad worked with them back at such and such place at such and such time.” I loved that if nothing else, at Christmastime, people still took the time to connect through Christmas cards.
I feared that with the dawn of social media, the lack of a need for cards would cause them to die out. However, the past couple of weeks I have been receiving messages from friends and cousins alike asking for my address, and the past few days my mailbox has been filled with colored envelopes. Despite the fact that we don’t have a need for them, my generation has taken up the torch and is running with it. Christmas cards aren’t dead!
I know that they take a great deal of time (and money!) but I am so grateful for them. They are a wonderful storybook, and opportunity to reach out to those that aren’t always dialed into your life. Thank you to all of those that still send, and thank you to those who received ours and didn’t laugh at our many, many gems!