I was thinking about the slew of holiday cards we send out every year, as well as the many that arrive in the mail to us (some, along with those holiday update letters, but more about that later).
I look forward to getting holiday cards – I like to see how faraway friends’ kids have grown each year, and it’s fun for the boys to look at pictures of nearby friends. We display the cards we receive around a window in our family room. And we send out a card every year, usually with a picture or two of the boys that comes from a fall backyard “photo shoot” that Dave does with his fancy schmancy camera. What people don’t see in what’s usually a cute picture would be the hour we spent trying to get the boys to sit still, stop poking each other and making funny faces, or the swearing Dave did when the camera died in the middle of this mess, because he doesn’t use it that often and it wasn’t fully charged.
This year, we used some vacation pictures for our holiday cards. And even without the photo shoot, it was no different. Sure, we had a nice picture of the four of us in a nice place. But nobody could see the exhaustion on our faces from the 3-hour time change from home or the argument we’d had trying to figure out where to park that morning.
And as for those letters that some families include with their holiday cards, let me just say – blech. I’ve never thought about actually sending one with our holiday cards, but just for fun, I’ve thought about different ways I could approach writing one…..
1. Dear family and friends: Well, we survived another year. Barely. I continue to drag myself out of bed to teach college classes where an occasional student will nod off in the back of the room. Things are going great for Matthew in middle school. Unless you count the day I spilled coffee on his binder and wrecked the cover of a group project. That wasn’t so great. Michael is learning a lot in 3rd grade. I even got to have a meeting with his teacher where she told me about a story Michael had planned to write about Santa getting drunk in a bar. And Dave has had the opportunity to travel to wonderful and exotic locales for work. Like New Hampshire.
2. To our most cherished friends and family: We are delighted to be sending you this letter after yet another fantastic year for our family. You’ll see from the photo on our card that we enjoyed a lovely vacation together over the summer. Master Matthew and Master Michael continue to excel in school and in their many extracurricular activities. I continue to shape the lives of young people through my teaching adventures, and Dave receives accolades for his work.
And then, what I’d really like to write:
3. Here we are again, friends. Another holiday season, another year that has passed too quickly. We continue to count our blessings every day. Yes, our boys do well in and out of school. But wanna know what I really want to tell you about? The time I spied Matthew lifting a 4-year–old neighbor off a friend’s trampoline at our block party. When I glanced outside and saw Michael tying his friend’s shoes, because he knows this friend has a little trouble with it. The day we drove home together from camp and Matthew told me that the best part of his day was helping the counselors out with the little kids. Is it always easy? Nope. But in these small moments when I know that Dave and I have the privilege of helping these wonderful people grow up, it’s all worth it.