Every year at this time an area of our kitchen is strung with gorgeous holiday cards. Friends from far flung areas of the United States send us greetings. If you have similar friends and family, nearly all of these are photo cards with kids. Shining faces beam down at me, baby cheeks display drool, brothers are draped in Christmas lights, and fuzzy heads of toddlers make their appearance.
I love it.
I can’t get enough.
With every card I open I coo and say things like, “Oh my God, look how big he has gotten!”
Because if you are similar to our friends and family it is so hard, nearly impossible, to visit and see each other in person. Then even if we do make the impossible happen and visit, those cherubim change so quickly that their holiday card shows me a child who has already grown too much. In fact, we took our Christmas card photos at the beginning of November and I swear my preschooler already looks different.
So do not mock the photo holiday cards, please. Do not scoff or turn your nose up at this trend because, for me, it keeps me just a little bit closer to the people I wish I could hug. I hope this trend never changes. I am gearing up for the Harry Potter-like future where paper photos can move.
I can’t help but notice, though, that all those children look angelic in those photo cards, don’t they? In fact, I don’t see one screaming tantrum or one nose picking in all of them. Hmmmm….is this a case of “Fakebooking” meets Holiday Cards?
I pondered this for some time when it came to our family holiday greetings for 2014. We had a camera-experienced friend come over and take our family shots. With glee, I inserted the disc she gave us some weeks later and I got misty-eyed. She had captured us. Imperfect, wonderful us.
I laughed over photos that caught….
…my boys sticking their tongues out at each other…
…my preschooler having a tantrum over something…
…my kindergartner squeezing his brother so hard in a hug that it appears more like a chokehold…
…them throwing leaves up in the air and laughing in delight as the crunchy bits of red rained down on their blonde heads…
…that way my oldest will bend down to make eye contact with his little brother…
…how my 3 year old gives me wet, sloppy kisses…
…these precious, crazy, chaotic, never-again-to-be-here moments…all captured.
These moments of Real Us are my favorite photos our photographer gave us.
But those aren’t the ones that made our Christmas cards. Not because I am vain or attempting to mask my real life. I love my real life, I love those moments and I don’t ever want them to end.
The thing is that when it is time to pick a card to send to my Great Aunt Celia, who is on in age and has never once met my children, I want a picture that shows their faces. I want her to be able to identify them and see them. I have this romantic daydream that even though my oldest is now 5 she would recognize him walking down the street because she has seen his face every year. She has looked in to his eyes through our Christmas photo and knows him. Alas, that won’t happen if she gets scrunched up noses or backs of heads on our holiday cards.
But the other thing is that to really see my boys you have to see the chokeholds and sloppy kisses. To understand our family you have to see the shot where we tried to get the boys to walk while holding hands – it turned out to look like the most hysterically awkward Gap spoof. It ended with grass stains on their knees.
I do not know what the answer is in regards to these holiday cards we send. Do I send the face-forward photos where their eyes are bared to the lens, or do I send the ones that show their personality and our heart as a family but with the top of someone’s head?
I do know, though, that I love being able to look in to the eyes of my friends’ children through their photos. Every year I race to the mailbox from Thanksgiving on, anxious to tear open envelopes filled with joyful noises.
While I ponder this more, maybe to make a different decision in 2015, I am holding on to my outtake photos, TIGHT.
Happy Holidays everyone…