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Holiday cards get a bad rap online, but I happen to love
them. Friends and family, near and wide, took the time and spent the money to create their version of the perfect holiday photo card and sent one to me, to my family.
Are they fake? Possibly. Do they tell the whole story of a family? Of course not. Are they vain and indulgent? Probably. I still love them.
Full disclosure: The first time I ever did them was last
year, so I am a recent convert. Our new
batch just arrived on my doorstep last night. I will spend some time over the next few evenings addressing envelopes,
adding personal notes and looking for those last few addresses, cursing when I
can't find them.
Despite all the hassle, I thank my lucky stars that my
current life is one where I have the privilege to spend time, money and energy
on something like a holiday photo card.
Life wasn't always as simple.
I celebrate this life I have right now.
Some years ago, our life was so complicated that I couldn't even
open the dozens and dozens of cards we got in the mail, let alone
arrange for a photographer, design a card, then address those suckers for our
own family. I literally could not bring
myself to even open the envelopes and look at the faces.
When you are parenting a child with serious illness (suck
it, cancer), when you then go on to grieve that same child after her death,
well, the holidays aren't always so merry and bright. This is true for many families that hurt in a
thousand different ways. Those holiday
cards with the happy, shiny faces can be hard to both tolerate or relate to,
depending on the status of your own family.
Right now, today, this year, my little family and I are
here and not coping with any life altering changes. One of the biggest decisions on our horizon
is whether or not we should invest in bunk beds for our two boys. Blessed, never to be taken for granted again,
I celebrate this life I have right now. This perfectly, imperfect routine, boring life of mine. I choose to spend time and money and effort
not to impress those folks in my circle or convince others that we are living
large, but to revel in its mundanity.
Three cheers for a life that does not involve overnight trips to the ER! Hip! Hip! Hooray!
Three cheers for a life that does not involve overnight
trips to the ER! Hip! Hip! Hooray! for a
life free of a doctor asking you, "What do you want to do?" about a literal
life or death situation involving your beloved first born. Can I get a witness for a life where you can
book a photographer two weeks in advance and know, with fair certainty, that
disaster of some sort or other won't strike and force you to cancel?
This year, as the cards pour in, I open each and every
envelope and marvel at the lives featured, images of my dear
friends and family. I celebrate
their growing children. I cheer for
the braces and missing teeth and silly faces. I know just what kind of year my friends are having, merely for the
fact that they were able to take the time and effort to get those cards out in
the first place. They live with a balance
that allows for all of that. And that? That is a blessing.
If you happen to be on the receiving end of one of my
family's Christmas cards, please celebrate with us, too. Know that we are well. Well enough, as they say. The happy people looking back at you don't
reflect our sadness or our worries, no. But those smiles do capture the immense
gratitude we feel for a simple life raising children.