Thursday, January 7, 2016

Christmas Card 2015

“You can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights.” Maya Angelou

I know sending out Christmas cards, or “holiday” cards as is the more politically correct terminology, is becoming a dying fashion. However, I am old fashioned and feel strongly about keeping on my massive sized holiday “to-do” list. Yes, I could cut out the practice and save a couple of hundred dollars between stamps and custom ordered picture cards, but I take joy and spirit in creating, chronicling and reminiscing on the past year. I know those I send it to give it a warm glance then toss in the trash, maybe keeping until the season’s end,  but I keep my keepsake card and every year pull out to display and reflect on Christmas’s past.

In the really old days I’d send generic, store bought cards with pictures of sleighs, snow, and Santa. I’ve gone all out with expensive, customized, photo, fold cards that allow more room to write personalized, hand written notes. In the more recent years I’ve settled on the standard, 5 x 7 contemporary photo printed card which is a compromise between the two. I’ve included Christmas letters a few years and write them brimming with pride only to review months later and realize they sound stupid and braggadocio. I always add photos of the kids and sometime I myself am featured, and every now and then the pets make an appearance.

Sometimes I get the cards out on time, sometimes they become a New Year’s greeting. I always get them out and they always have pictures, those are two constants a recipient can always expect.

Last year’s card served to announce to my annual greeting card circle that I married and now have a blended family. We used a wonderful picture taken at our wedding celebration (we eloped!) of our big, happy blended family: seven total, two adults and five kids, at the time ages 6 through 16, three of mine, two teenage daughters of his. One big, happy blended family and a gorgeous card with me in my ivory gown, Kentucky derby party theme dressed crew with a big bouquet of red roses in my hand, fresh spring greenery in the background and all of us looking happily blended.

In response to the card I received many congratulations, and we framed the card in all its beauty and glory. This year I brought out the nicely framed card and displayed it on our foyer entry table next to the nativity scene. Time to create our Christmas card 2015.

Problem with this year was we didn’t have a group photo or photos of all the kids or any pictures of his teenage girls. Our big, happy blended family, in all truthfulness was not happy for everyone. Put it this way, I am a step mom to two teenage step daughters. Teenage, step, and girls. Read between the lines. There was no happy, blended family picture to be taken. I asked Magnum, “What should we do?” The brilliant man that he is suggested we just use a picture of our new home and have that also serve as a moving announcement. Wonderful!

I waited until I decorated the entire exterior to take the perfect shot of our new, festive home. I got a few good shots, along with our two dogs in the foreground lovingly chewing on some of the displayed, holiday arrangements in the urns.

Then I got carried away. I had done such a nice job decorating the interior of the house that I thought it wouldn’t hurt to add a couple of collage photos as well. I added a couple photos of us decorating the tree, (the figures of the younger three kids barely distinguishable), one of the piano with three nutcrackers and a Merry Christmas sign, and another of the foyer table with our card from last year. These were thumb print sized photos but I was satisfied as it represented not just our new home but of the joy taking place inside. In the process I managed to sneak an annual photo of my three kids which I have been doing since their birth while also getting the girls’ photo into the card, albeit a symbolic gesture in the thumb print sized photo of last years’ card next to the nativity scene. I felt like I had created a Christmas miracle.

I ordered 75 cards which totaled $165. I spend a moment reminiscing, proud that I completed Christmas card 2015 and quickly shared my genius with my mother. Her response was lack luster when I described the photo. “Well, don’t you think Magnum would be hurt that his girls aren’t in the card but your kids are?” I said, “What do you mean? They are in the card, in last year’s photo that I took a picture of and included.” To which my mom continued to harp that it wasn’t the same and wasn’t worth hurting feelings. To which I agreed and realized my genius creation was not genius but perhaps thoughtless and insensitive and selfish. Maybe I was a wicked step monster!

So I began to panic. I already ordered the cards. I didn’t think I could cancel the online order. My mother told me to forget about the money and make a new card. I made a last ditch effort to win her over for support by sending her a picture of the card so she could see it wasn’t that bad, so she could see the genius of my creation!

A little side note, I recently sent one of my teenage step daughters a friendly text message.

Technology being what it is, I sent my mom the photo of the card then, somehow when I followed up with my mother to ask her what she thought of the card, my follow up was sent to my step daughter. The text message read something like this: “So what do you think? If you zoom in you can better tell the pics. Is this offensive or hurtful cause girls are missing from photo?”

To which my step daughter responded, “What?” or also interpreted in texting slang, “WTF?”

Holy Christmas, I just created Armageddon! I was just about to pick Magnum up from the airport when I realized this guffaw. I started to panic. As a former special ops, you don’t get much past Magnum. He can read me like a book. I was in a Christmas pickle. First I had to respond to my step daughter before she reached out to her dad for an explanation. It was an honest mistake with sincere intentions but if I couldn’t explain myself then this situation could get out of control fast. Though before I was able to attempt damage control, Magnum was at the car door, tired from an overseas trip. We lovingly greeted one another then he immediately sensed something was wrong which didn’t take a human lie detector to distinguish. My face was beat red, my heart rate was elevated and I blurted out, “I did something very bad!” After an anxiety attack or two I told him about the Christmas card predicament.

Without going into too much detail, it wasn’t as big a deal as I envisioned. Call me a drama queen, I earned it. Magnum was cool and fine but did request I do a more generic card. I took the approach of honesty when explaining my bizarre text to my step daughter. I explained to her that I was just trying to create the perfect blended family Christmas card but didn’t have a recent group shot, and she responded, “Oh, lol.” I was able to cancel my first Christmas card order so that was a relief and, in the end, I created a “nice” moving announcement in the form of a festive, red and green themed Christmas card, wreaths and all. Our dogs Buddy and Daisy were featured and captured destroying my exterior Christmas décor which added an element of humor to such a behind the scenes drama laden card. And believe it or not I got it out BEFORE Christmas! In the end this really was a Christmas miracle.

So if you were one of the lucky ones to receive a lovely holiday greeting from us, there was a lot that went into this year’s card. You never know what goes on behind some people’s closed doors! My hope and wish for 2016’s Christmas card is to display one nice, happily blended family group shot.

Happy New Year! 

Original Card
Final Draft
Dogs destroying décor


  1. You are a piece of work. Glad it did not turn out too badly, I know you have to walk a tight line with the steps.

    You should put a picture of the card on the post.
    Love you!

    1. Take a pic with your cell phone, load it to your computer and then add to post by clicking the picture next to "Link" on the blog compose page...ask Tommy to help.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. OK, it was painful but I added some photos.

  2. Brandy you are a brave woman taking on teenage step-daughters!!! LOL
    I wish you the best of luck. Great post BTW!

  3. The card is really great as for me. Besides I think you didn't have to worry that much in this situation. They're teenagers. They make problems themselves. You're just worrying to much, I think.

    1. You are absolutely right! They are teenagers and I worry too much!