Saturday, January 24, 2015

Holiday Remnants

Most of us have moved on from Christmas and other holidays that were celebrated during the last couple of months. I'm trying, but procrastination the busyness of life still leaves me with a naked Christmas tree in my living room, waiting to be disassembled and stored alongside her sister who temporarily resided in the family room. Whose idea was it to have two trees?

My husband and three children love Christmas. My feelings about it necessitate another blog post. Basically, sometimes I feel that I can skip it or do it biennially; at other times, the joy of the season creeps through the frenzy and I'm smiling and happy to be giving and celebrating my blessings. Either way, the actual day is always fun.

This past Christmas, the blessings included dinner with my husband, kids, and dog. My sister-in-law and her family came and so did my brother-in-law – my husband's other sibling. Darling Husband cooked a scrumptious meal that was partially worked off at the ping pong table in the basement before putting it back on with the Jesus cake dessert. The next day we traveled to my parents' home where another traditional dinner was waiting. The girls were glad to see their Uncle Joey, too, complete with checks in hand to their delight.

Another holiday blessing is the reconnecting. A whole year can go by without talking to a family member or friend, but when December rolls around, I always make or receive a call or two… or three. Most of the time, it seems that people are progressing along on the same path. For others, incidents have dictated that they rediscover life in a different way.

Before I digress any further, I have a question for you. What do you do with those family photo Christmas and holiday cards that everyone (except me) seems to be sending out these days? During my annual summer beach trip, I see families all dressed in white, posing against the vast blue ocean for the perfect shot before sunset. "They're getting the card ready," I say.

Every year, there's an increase in the family photo cards we receive, but the Christian, winter, and Santa themed Hallmark (or equivalent) cards are still holding their own. As much as I like the traditional, artsy, professional cards, created by talented artists, designers, and writers, I have to admit that the "choose-your-template, do-it-yourself" cards are getting more viewing time from me. Some of this year's crop include a bride and groom, happy people in pajamas, happy people eating in restaurants, and happy people on family vacations at the Grand Canyon and at one of those huge national parks.

We get the new baby photo cards, the photos where the pet steals the attention, the little kids who've grown another three inches since last year's card, the coordinated sweater shots, the three or four generation family group shot, the sailing, the skiing…

A couple families did what I did one year (my one and only year of attempting to keep up with the Christmas photo-card Joneses): they sent a card with a 4x6 family photo slipped inside. It was relatively easy the year that I did it because we just happened to have a family photo from a summer outing – you know, the one where a stranger volunteers to take the "whole family" because he or she sees you taking pictures of each other in partial combinations. Yes, that one. Anyway, I printed several copies of that shot for the several cards that I intended to send out. Somewhere in a drawer, several copies never left the CVS envelope. Oh well… I tried.

Before I move on, I must mention the 5x7, 4-sided glossy card featuring a preppy family of four in jackets, pearls, and ties… worthy of a portrait in the library of their probable mansion. The inside contained the annual letter and the card back had a picture of the sons tubing in Greece. This card came from one of my husband's rich friends. My friends aren't rich. Hmmm… actually, some are.

Years ago, when I received photo cards,  I placed them in an album – the kind where you peel back the clear protector page and place the photo on the sticky page and then press the protector page back on it. (Remember those?) Surely, I couldn't throw away "a picture" of someone!

It took about three years to fill it. I don't think it would take three years to fill an album nowadays. So what do you do with the photos? Admire, display, and toss? Ours have been accumulating, along with the traditional cards, in a couple of festive baskets. It used to be one basket. One day I had the bright idea of scanning them into a picture file on my computer. One day, I scanned a few. There will be no more scanning.

So the photo cards, in addition to the cookie tins, etc, have to go... eventually. I'll never achieve my semi-minimalist (dream on Anita) status if DH and I continue to keep all the special greetings and gifts that come through our door. However, my sentimental nature lives on. Continue to send us your traditional cards, photo cards, notes, letters, fruit, candy, and cookies. We love it, and we love you.

Do you send Christmas or holiday photo cards, traditional cards, or letters?

Are there any special joys and/or particular challenges you face during the holiday season?