With the passage of another frightful Halloween comes what is truly the scariest, most dreaded, sleep-losing, event of the year…. the holiday greeting card season. Each year I try to convince myself that this will be the year that I finally create the perfect card that expresses the harmony, joy, and love, that is our family. In other words, I’d need to creatively lie my ass off!
I fool myself into thinking that I will start early so that my card will be the first to arrive. But, as usual I am late for everything, with last year’s card breaking all records delivered just before Valentine’s Day. I tell myself that I will create a fun themed family photo. However, after a previous attempt at trying to recreate Dr. Suess’s “Who’s” from “Whoville”, my children made me swear on my life that I would never mention the words, “hair mousse”, and “footsie pajamas”, again.
With all of my failed attempts aside, I still look forward to receiving the first batch of greeting cards that come floating through my mail slot on precisely the day after Thanksgiving. I marvel at the perfect, color coordinated, family photos. I relish the letters filled with the wonders of the opportunities realized, the awards won, and the valiant achievements recognized. I wonder to myself how do these mothers do it? The perfect family photo, and a letter gracefully worded without a single typo.
Then, around mid December – when I am far from the completion of anything that might resemble a greeting card – something terrible begins to happen. At 3 o’clock each day, I begin to hyperventilate. Hives develop on my face and appendages. As the postman approaches the house I find myself barking and drooling at the door beside the family dog. I fear that if I open one more calligraphy addressed envelope with sparkling confetti inside, proclaiming the joys of parenting, I might just do the unthinkable.
So I resolve to end it all, the mail that is. I try everything possible to make it stop: taping the mail slot with duct tape, filing a change of address form at the post office, pouring water on the steps to create an unapproachable path of ice. But nothing seems to stop it. It’s like something out of a Harry Potter novel where the possessed letters magically find their own way inside my house!
Well this year I plan to approach things from a completely different angle. No more trying to create that vision of the perfect family, or the tales of the beautiful trips, and proud parenting moments. That’s right, this year I have decided to impart the most precious of all holiday gifts upon my greeting card recipients. They will receive an unabridged, unedited, edition of a year in the “real” life of this family of six. Our utter failures as parents, the sibling rivalry that pushes my husband and I toward early dementia, the most disastrous and viral worthy, awkward family photos.
I will start a new trend in holiday giving. I will finally find a purpose for that pile of devilish looking red-eyed photographs. Or even better, the one where one of the boys is sticking his fingers behind his brother’s head, while the other one picks his nose.
And proud parenting moments – there are too many to choose from. Like the time I threatened to load all of the kids in the car to drop them off at the nearest psychiatrist’s office. Or the time that my husband and I formed a pack to wake our four teenagers up at five in the morning, so that they too, can see what sleep deprivation feels like.
Yes, this will be my easiest, least time-consuming, true to life holiday card ever. I never realized how liberating being unimpressive could be. So, with all of this new-found time on my hands, I sat down to look through the local fall catalog of adult-enrichment classes available in my town. Maybe I’ll learn to paint, or try my hand at pottery. Then I spot it! The answer to the question, “How do they do it? ”
“Be the admiration of all”, it reads. “Create the perfect Holiday Card using Photoshop and creative writing.” There it was, staring me in the face. I raced to my computer. Maybe if I searched the class I could see the attendance, and verify my theory. Get names. Bring them down. I pulled up the class registration. Ha, just as I thought! They were all there. I decided to call the instructor and ask her how she could perpetuate such a sham?
“Yes”, she said. “I help people create a card that is the envy of all, and”, she continued, “we still have space for one more.”
The envy of all, I thought. Reality, maybe next year.