Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Cards

Have you noticed that after a marriage of convenience, Emily Araminta Eulalia Dawlish Foster Fforde is the one expected to prepare all of the doctor's Christmas cards? I would love it if someone could cite a specific book(s) from the canon (I would do it, I really would, but I am too busy this week to dig through them all!)

Dr. van der Stevejinck and I reached an agreement after a few years of marriage that we would each address and sign the Christmas cards we were sending to our families. I would do mine, he would do his. I dearly love my husband, but he had been sending Christmas cards to every cousin and second cousin of his (he has a lot) - and I got fed up. If he wanted to send 50 cards to people he barely knew, who didn't reciprocate, well, that was his look out. It didn't take him too many years to prune his list down to a much more manageable one. Which is truly a good thing, since, after many many years, I volunteered to do his this year. Why? He's in Japan until Saturday and the postage from there is more than double what it is here. Don't tell him, but I've managed to whittle down his list even further...
In the past (the increasingly distant past), we used to send family pictures along with our cards...that was back when the kids were young and relatively cute. Now that my youngest is nearly 16 and I am over 50, it would just be painful to send a family picture.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should state that not all the pictures of my kids that I sent with my Christmas cards were 'cute'. One year I decided it would be nifty to dress my kids up and pose them in a Nativity-like scene (no, I wasn't on crack). I had enough 3 middle boys were Wise Men, oldest son was Joseph, and only daughter was Mary. So far, so good. My youngest son was only about a year or two old, so he was cast as Baby Jesus. One problem...he wouldn't lie still in the 'manger'. We were finally able to take the picture when he fell asleep for his nap. I'm guessing this picture was taken in around 1995 0r 1996 - back before we had a digital camera and could actually see what the picture was going to look like. This particular Christmas Picture has gone down in family lore as 'The Dead Baby Picture' - the 'manger' I had rigged up looked vaguely coffin-like, and Danny looked, By the time we got the pictures back it was too late to redo them, so out they went. I would post one here, but like I said, we hadn't gone digital yet and I'm too lazy to go dig a copy up.

As a teaser, I will tell you that I do have a Hanna Betty family picture circa 1984...which means Betty Keira and I were BOTH in it (I was married and living out-of-state by then, but I was visiting home the weekend the picture was taken...) I can't post the picture today - it's too big for my scanner, and Dr. van der Stevejinck took our camera to Japan with him (dang, I should have made him take a Betty Neels and do a Betty in the Wild...argh!). He'll be back this weekend, so if anyone would like to see the 1984 picture, let me know.


  1. Suffice it to say, we want to see ALL Betty pictures, ALL the time.

    As it happens, I'm doing Christmas cards even as -- wait, let me rephrase that. As it happens, I'm procrastinating in the middle of my Christmas cards. I used to do very elaborate decorating on the envelopes with a few rubber stamps with snowflakes. Too much work. I used to hand-write the addresses. Too much work. I used to write a little message in each card so the recipient would know I actually was aware it was a card going to them. Too much work.

    But oddly enough, the one thing I do that is intentionally cheesy -- a photocopied Totally Impersonal Christmas Letter (TICL) -- is the one thing everyone loves. This is the 18th year; I started it when I left Albany for law school in Philadelphia. With two international mergers, the overseas list is pretty big, and the domestic list keeps growing too.

    That's okay. I got the ultimate compliment for the TICL one year when a stranger emailed me to say that every year the TICL addressed to Lisa Robinson arrived at her door. She wasn't Lisa, and Lisa hadn't lived at that house for four years. But every year, this woman would "accidentally" open the card from me, read the TICL, then stick it back in the card and walk it around the corner to where Lisa lived.

    As she put it, my totally impersonal letter was more interesting than the ones she got from her own friends and family.

    Now that's a compliment.

    (Alas, she didn't accept my invitation to continue getting the TICL in her own name, and Lisa never sent me her change of address, so the net result was one fewer recipient...)

  2. I can well believe that your TICL is popular - you do have a gift for writing.

    I often put in a Christmas letter - but not always. I have one or two acquaintances that always send a Christmas newsletter - all about how perfect their children are and their life and everything. While I'm sort of happy for them (in my cynical Grinch-ish way), deep down I find it a bit pathetic. Finally, about a decade ago, I reciprocated with a newsletter that talked about the funny or dumb things that happened to us (children breaking bones, getting lost on vacation, wrecking the car, forgetting to bring pants to wear at graduation...that sort of thing). Maybe I should wish my family was more 'perfect'...but frankly, I'd rather have funny, sometimes smart, sometimes dumb and sometimes just plain silly any day of the week.

    This year the people getting my Christmas card will just have to be happy with a card. I'm writing a personal note in two or three, but the rest are just signed. I know it's a bit lame, but hey, at least they're getting a card.

  3. For the first few years of our marriage, we literally could not afford to send cards - it was TIGHT! Later, I'd send a card with a short note to people we hadn't seen recently. Still later, after I got a word processor (how many of you actually remember what a dedicated word processor was, much less a type writer?) I'd do an insert for the not-so-often-seen types, and eventually, got enough comments that I put that in everyone's card.

    Then I began to keep a family blog and the card thing fell by the wayside. But this year, for the 35th time, we got a card from my somewhat estranged mother-in-law (we avoid her - she is clueless and thinks we're close - we haven't seen her in years although she lives in town) that said simply, "Merry Christmas, Mom."

    Hubby was annoyed and said, "Send her a Christmas letter - with NEWS! Tell her what we've been doing. Let her know how this should be done!" Said letter is now written and, well, it's full of the great stuff we've been doing, although it does include my husband's cancer scare last winter. We ARE blessed and we tend to be "glass-half-full" types anyway.

    I must away and print it before he gets home. ;-)

    BTW, we've never done family photos at Christmas. My best friend does, though - every year. Her oldest grandchildren are now 19 and having been friends for close on 30 years, it's a wonderful record of her boys approaching manhood, marrying, having children and, alas, Sam & Lois aging! :) Each August she and her husband rent a lake house in Northern MI for the extended family and everyone comes - that's when the photos are taken. Beautiful to see.

    And yes, I simply can't face Christmas without the dead baby photo.

    Oh - we are including a photo of our house all lit up with Christmas lights, showing off all the remodeling we've done. :)


  4. And I feel bad -- because while you and Betty Keira are getting the TICL (anyone who wants one can get one; just email your address to the Founding Bettys: they'll get it to me, and I'll get the TICL to you...), it's *short* this year. Some years I really had to tighten up the font and decrease the margins; this year, you won't even need your reading glasses!

    But that's because most of the stuff I could have written was on the level of: "And then we went to Erie, and then the deck was finished, and then I bought a new winter coat. Oh, and the cats had their annual check up; you'll be glad to know their teeth are much healthier this year, but they'd both put on a little weight."

  5. Founding Bettys PLEASE send my e-mail to Betty Magdalen. I am dying to see the TICL!

  6. Proud member of the dressed my brood in robes and wings club. Even included the 3 nephews from Texas one year to be kings. The first Baby Jesu is now 23, he did 2 years in role. His brother, younger by a year was an wrigling off the the lap 13 month old. Betty Megan did the honors 14 years ago. And I did a mother and child with BettyMegan and grandchild numero uno six years ago.
    Since then I wait til after Christmas and do a group photo and send it out for Little Christmas, aka Three Kings or Ephinany - all occur on Jan. 6.
    I'm a firm believer in wringing all the stuffing out of the season. It ain't over til it's over.

  7. I can't get the above hyperlink to work; another Betty Magdalen class required perhaps?

    Meanwhile, you can cut-and-paste the address--wow, great letter--makes me feel like a slug. BUT doesn't "The Christmas Letter" sound like a Betty book?

  8. Betty Kylene -- Would you nudge the Founding Bettys to remind them they have to get your address to me before I can send you the TICL? (I tried, but they're clearly busy and aren't paying attention to me...)