Aack! It's the holiday season.
I am not this mom.
And when the holiday season comes around these thoughtful and productive women gather the family together in a loving scene, snap a picture, add a holiday message and then, once again, mail the picture to family and friends.
Tis the season for me to fall short.
Actually, for most of my life I have often fallen short in all areas of paper correspondence. At some point in my past I must have had a terrible encounter with the mailman. Or, maybe in a former life I was a dog.
But, as this is the season of hope, I will tell you a story of when I almost lived up to the very high standards set by picture taking, Christmas card sending women. While it's not a story of actual success, it's an almost-accomplishment which sometimes is as good as it gets.
A few years ago I was gazing out the window at the freshly fallen snow. Gorgeous. The Christmas tree was up and decorated and my few non-life threatening to children Christmas decorations were sprinkled around the house. What a wonderful season! I looked over at my then 2 1/2 year old daughter and her 8 month old sister. Ooh, this is what family is all about.
A brilliant plan pops into my head. "I should share this feeling with others," I declare out loud. And with conviction, I announce, "I will send out a Christmas card!" Yes! I have never had the motivation to send a Christmas card in the past, but watching my lovely children I just know that this is something I WILL and MUST do.
I turn to my husband, "Max*," I say enthusiastically, convinced that he will absolutely love and admire my idea. "With a camera, I am going to take a picture of our two beautiful children and then I'm going to somehow affix that picture to a Christmas card with an inspirational and uplifting message about the season." As I talk, more smart card ideas keep forming in my quick-thinking mom brain. "Also, I will handwrite a well-written but informative update on the intellectual progress of our two amazing children."
I turn to Max with a satisfied smile. He says nothing. Wow, he's really impressed with my idea, I think.
He still says nothing. He is in awe of me. And really, he should be. Here I am, a full-time mom of two young children. And yet, with such a busy season on hand I have the energy and creativity to share our happiness with others. I wait patiently for his response.
"Babe," he begins, "Today is Christmas. Don't you think it's a bit late to send out a Christmas card?"
"Right." Crap. Okay, I will not let this stop me. I am creative and persistent. I cannot let the actual date of Christmas stand in my way. It is a season, after all.
"I know that, babe. Of course I know that. I meant to say that this year I will send out a New Year's card."
So I immediately got started three or four days later. Why rush? New Years technically lasted, like, a month. Right? I'm pretty sure the check-out lady at the grocery store wishes me a Happy New Year until I start giving her the dirty please-stop-wishing-me-out-of-season-greetings look. And loads of people leave up their decorations till March. (I have trouble talking about my feelings on that subject.) Therefore, I had plenty of time.
I borrowed some black velvet for the back drop, dressed the girls in pink tulle and black velvet party dresses, and sprinkled confetti all around. I stepped back and looked at my photo shoot set-up. Impressive. Maybe after I raise our kids and guide them towards successful adulthoods, I will become a well-known and famous kids photographer specializing in New Year's photo shoots. Hmm.
When the lighting was just right, I gathered the girls and set them gently on the festive backdrop. I gave them various noisemakers then stepped back and immediately began taking professional quality pictures with my vintage model digital camera.
"Look at me, girls!" The girls looked all around but not once do they look at the camera. I will not get frustrated, I say to myself. I am a creative, patient, full-time mom. I try again.
"Hey, sweeties, look at mommy! Look, at the camera! PLEASE! Take the confetti out of your mouths, please." Oh, no. Was that the non-toxic to children confetti?
"No! Don't eat the noisemakers, baby! And please don't put the confetti up your nose...take that OUT OF YOUR EAR!!"
Wait. If the confetti is toxic, is it only toxic if eaten? Is toxic confetti still toxic if it goes up your nose? Why don't I read warning labels closer?? Okay, that will be my New Year's resolution, to read warning labels better. Back to the shoot.
"Just one smile for Mommy girls!" I'm beginning to sound a bit shrill. But honestly, is it that hard to glance at least once at the woman who bore you?
I don't have much time to capture that perfect moment. The light is fading and since I haven't replaced the ceiling fan lights since, oh crap, since....has it been since before we had kids? Focus. I have to get the good shot before that confetti is permanently digested.
Suddenly, both girls look at me (having nothing to do with the pillow I threw at them) and CLICK! I take the perfect, festive, celebratory New Year's picture of my lovely and cooperating children. It will be the first of many. Our friends and family will look forward to our creative and unique New Year's cards for years to come. It will be a seasonal highlight.
Two weeks later, I realize that I should really get that picture developed. And figure out how to affix it to a holiday card. But then I decide that glue and scissors and craft stuff in general just really make things complicated. And isn't glue toxic?
So I decided to use one of those photo web-sites that basically does it all for you.
I order 120 cards and envelopes and cannot wait for the day they arrive so I can see our lovely New Year's card in person. I am going to send one to everyone we have ever known. Finally, on the last day of January (still technically New Years!) they arrive. I excitedly open the envelope and pull out our 1st Annual New Year's Card.
Huh. Didn't realize the dog hair on the black velvet back drop would show up so well. And is that a diaper in the corner? Ah man. You can see the pillow I threw at them...picture's a little fuzzy, too. Wow, I didn't realize the confetti would clump like that - and all around the baby's mouth. Okay. Not perfect, but at least the girls are looking directly at the camera. Success!!
A few weeks later, I sit down with the first card to write our very personal, touching and humorous note. (Grocery store lady is still wishing me a Happy New Year so I'm well within the season.) After getting a cramp in my hand from writing out the first note, I quickly decide that Happy New Year's says it all. Simple, elegant, perfect...and already pre-printed on the card.
This is a really good mom moment for me. I revel in it.
Hmm...okay...I will send one card to my sister's boyfriend's parents in Scotland. With the time change and how far away it is, I'm sure it's still the New Year there. I will save another card...which will serve as the inspiration for the beautifully decorated and creatively assembled scrap book I will construct with non-toxic items. I dump all the "extra" cards in the recycle bin. No need for evidence. And then...
"Baby girl, please stop sucking on that Sharpie." (Not sure if it's toxic as I forgot to read the warning label, but just to be safe.)
And, I will stop making silly New Year's Resolutions that I cannot keep. My new resolution will be to make a beautifully decorated and creatively assembled scrap book.
How hard can that be?
Honesty is important. As you may have guessed, I was not able to keep the scrap book resolution that year or any year since. But, I have become VERY talented at identifying toxic hazards to children.
*name of husband remains changed...this time to protect me as I never told him about the "recycling" and "non-using" of all those cards.