I love this season for SO many reasons. Candy canes. Hot chocolate. Twinkling white lights. Snowflake art. Fireplaces. Warm blankets. Elf. One of my absolute favorite “Decemberisms” is our daily trip to the mailbox to see family and friends’ holiday cards that our dear postman has delivered. I take a few moments to admire each one, the photograph(s), the design, the stamps, and the address labels before adding it to the strand that adorns our mantle. Having sent our holiday cards out early this year (victory!), this got me thinking about this yearly tradition and what we DON’T see on those cards.
Part A: The photo itself.
Flash back to the late 80s and early 90s (photo at right – eeks!). My mom would set aside an afternoon (we’re talking 2-3 hours minimum here) to take no fewer than four rolls of film in coordinated outfits. She’d drop the film canisters off at the local photo developer (when those stores still existed) and eagerly wait to thumb through each shot. The success percentage was LOW and she was lucky to get one or two decent ones. Then, she would order a hundred or so REAL photos to glue/tape into cards. Wow. A LOT of work. Nowadays the entire process is streamlined from start to finish.
Aside from there being a TON of photographers and websites to order cards from (they can even address and send them for you!?), getting a perfect photo is WAY easier. There are hundreds of amazing Pinterest posts about how to pick ‘coordinated but not matching’ outfits – my rule is neutrals and one ‘pop’ of color. Because the sessions are relatively short, bribery is suggested and encouraged.
I did about a dozen holiday card mini sessions for friends and I photoshopped about half of the ‘money’ shots including my own. Head swapping is a pretty simple edit and the one I did for our card took about ten minutes total between importing and editing. It helps me, as an amateur photographer, not stress about getting that one picture. As long as I keep snapping and get 5-10 to work with from each pose, the probability of getting each child looking and smiling is much higher. Then I work some magic on stray hairs, overall lighting/contrast/coloring, and an occasional scratch/zit/stain removal. The other requests (wrinkle removal or filling in bald spots) are left to the magazine editors.
Part B: What the photo DOESN’T show.
I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook for a plethora of reasons – political arguments, pyramid business spam, zit popping videos, etc. – but mainly for the ways we choose to depict our lives. I am totally guilty of this. I carefully select the images I post to my yearly photo albums and require tagging approval in any posts or photos from friends. I am not afraid to decline. Sorry. The iconic holiday card is the summation of these feelings into one representation: the happy family pose.
What these photos don’t show are the financial struggles. Job promotions. Marriage therapy. Winning touchdowns. Second mortgages. New friendships. Miscarriages. Toddlers throwing up in the frozen food aisle of the grocery store. The good. The bad. The ugly. The beautiful. All of those daily battles aren’t seen. They’re brushed under the holiday card photo and it’s fine.
While this realization doesn’t change my love of seeing everyone’s beautiful holiday cards, it does make me think about all of those invisible moments that aren’t captured or mailed. It makes me think about the friends I need to reconnect with, the family members I miss spending time with, and the coworkers I should sit and drink coffee with more often. That brings me to my New Year’s Resolution…..
Tag us (#FCMBholidaycard) to share YOUR holiday greetings!