I have always loved Christmas Cards. Every year, I looked forward to the day when the very first festive envelope would arrive. I loved watching them pile up in the sleigh where we stacked our cards. We would go through them like they were baseball cards; picking MVP’s, performing dramatic readings of poems written in earnest, crying as I read aloud from a heartfelt letter. We’d look to see who dyed their hair since last year, who is expecting twins, where the so-and-sos were vacationing, and it was great fun. It’s still the first thing I do when I go to my parents’ house for Christmas – I find the sleigh, and I settle in. It always seemed like the most grown up thing to me, sending a Christmas Card. It was a club I couldn’t wait to belong to.
Needless to say, I was over the moon when I started on my card this year. Since I got married in January, I’ve been forced to wait the entire year to send our family’s first Christmas Card. Finally, at long last, I would join the ranks in various card-sleighs around the country.
But see, now I know something I didn’t know before. Now I am acutely aware that Christmas Cards are nothing but Instagram on paper: everyone’s put their best foot [and filter] forward and the result may or may not resemble actual reality. Here is how I know.
My card is handmade.
Read: I am crafty, and would like everyone to know it. My office was a disaster for DAYS in order to get this card crafted. There are still paper scraps under my desk. When I decided the picture printed a little darker than I hoped, I had a tiny meltdown, and my husband then had the special task of convincing me that was crazy while being careful not to imply I was crazy. Real talk, I am still worrying about this. If the pic looks dark, I beg you not to tell me.
I picked a sweet picture from our wedding.
Read: a professionally taken photograph of the 3 of us where we all look awesome and at least 1/3 of us paid professionals to help me look that way. In the picture itself, while a happy moment, I distinctly remember talking through my smile to tell my child that “YES in just ONE MORE MINUTE you can TAKE OFF YOUR DANG SHOES.”
Print labels?! Heavens no. I addressed each card by hand, painstakingly.
Read: I’d have you all believe this was a seamless part of my every day, just getting a little light correspondence in. As I sit here addressing cards, there is laundry piled on every possible surface in my laundry room. Did my husband feed our daughter? I did say no when she asked me if she could have Oreos for dinner, didn’t I?
So, just like the card implies: nothing short of perfection around these parts, my friends. Nothing messy to see here!
The stupid part is, it’s hard to get these perfectly curated little handouts in your mail box and not fall prey to a moment of panic, like, I am a hot mess, and their life looks so perfect. In that moment, I tend to forget that I myself fashioned a card to show off the good parts. These are things our brains neglect to remind us when we feel the pang of shame at those whose lives seem prettier than ours on carefully worded, triple-filtered, holiday-themed cardstock. Deep breaths.
And so? Bring it on. I want your best pictures and your sweetest sentiments in my mailbox all month, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I will pretend I don’t know that your 3-year-old said the f-word last week, because he looks so cute in that elf hat. We’ll coo over your picture and pretend you didn’t tell us you weren’t sure who cried more during your photoshoot – you or your infant. You all can pretend you don’t know all those things I just told you [no, but seriously]. We can band together in an unspoken mom truth: that a Christmas Card, while festive and entirely adorable, isn’t a full picture of reality.
It’s just a happy little snapshot of a normal, hot mess of a life.