Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Write Stuff: Christmas? It's in the Bag.

So, I honestly forgot how busy the Holidays can be. I know, who does that or says that? That's like watching "The Aviator" and saying "I was surprised there was so much, aviation."

When Thanksgiving arrived and quickly passed like it always does, I had this wonderful vision of a December chock-full-a Holiday blogging. I would photograph every cookie, every cocktail, every Christmas card, make Martha Stewart and Colin Cowie jealous, and then tell you all where, when, why, and how-to. Needless to say, it's December 21st, and I've realized we're lucky if we find time to even get these things done this time of year, not to mention write about them. Martha Stewart and Colin Cowie would spit in my eye and kick me in my jingle bells.

However, for me, I'm proud to say the last gifts have been purchased, the last Christmas card has been mailed, I've hosted by last party of the season, and the halls are beyond decked, yadde yadda yadda, and a Partridge in a pear tree. I'm ready to head home to my family for the holidays, my 26th Christmas at home. However, I still come to you from the bungalow downtown where I'm snowed in with 24 inches of snow outside.

At first it was pretty, as I walked on to the newly dusted UVA lawn following our division Holiday party Friday evening, very "moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, gave a lustre of midday to objects below." All was calm, all was bright. I had even been grocery shopping on my lunch hour after seeing the forecast, and after battling Charlottesville residents in Harris Teeter with a look of sheer panic and terror in their eyes as they bought enough milk and bread to survive the next Apocalypse, I felt well-stocked and well-prepared. I had already coped with the fact that with a 100% chance of heavy snow forecast in my future, I was probably not getting up early Saturday morning and hitting the road. However, 24 inches later, I'm now really over it. I'm tired of looking at the snow, I'm tired of putting my Hunter boots on and digging my car out with a shovel that handles that like a dessert spoon, only to have the snow plow come by and push 3 feet of snow up against my car, blocking me back in. I'm ready to go home. I'm at that place where I'm about to play Darlene Love's "Christmas: Baby, Please Come Home" and run through an airport terminal like Catherine Ohara in a scene from Home Alone.

Needless to say, I will hopefully hit the road tomorrow and begin the nervous, holiday trek home. While I feel we're at that point in the season that it's getting too late to really offer a lot of new, extra decorating and entertaining tips, I did want to share a little something with you all. I love Christmas cards. This is probably not very surprising, considering I told you all long ago, I have a bit of a stationery fetish. Christmas cards: I love getting them, I love sending them, and I love coming up with a new, fun card each year. There's something so classic about sending a Christmas card. I think I really enjoy it and appreciate it so much, because it tips it's newsie cap to the days when folks used to actually write each other. I mean, who doesn't like getting an actual letter in the mail? It's a lost art. Let's face it, you start receiving fewer Christmas cards and start getting more "Merry Christmas" text messages on the blackberry Christmas morning. Not that I don't appreciate a Christmas morning text message, but you don't email your Christmas list to Santa, and the Wisemen didn't send a text message saying "Yo, the baby's here in the stable. Bring frankincense and myrrh." Show some love. Pick up a pen, people. Put on "White Christmas," pour yourself a Maker's and Ginger, and crank the cards out. I think if you do the Christmas card right and put some thought into it, it becomes a gift in and of itself. A pretty cheap way to spread a lot of love over the Holidays.

So, as I remind you all every chance I get, I'm a single guy. (I don't remind you because I'm bitter, I remind you, in case you know someone with a good head on his shoulders: a neighbor, brother, friend, co-worker, complete stranger, etc. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?...Bueller?). I don't think my marital status should mean that I can't send Christmas cards or that I should have to send out a generic Thomas Kincaid (don't get me started on that man) boxed set of cards. I sent out a card with a photo of Bodie and I during his first Christmas as a puppy, and no, I'm not going to send out cards with headshots of myself. Although, I do think it would be funny to get a glamour shot taken, have it made into a Christmas card, and see if you can keep a straight face when folks open up a photo of you in a rhinestone denim jacket in front of a city lights backdrop.

I'm really not a fan of the Christmas family newsletter. You know what I'm talking about. The letter that Moms write that say things to the effect of "Connor is a Senior at Washington and Lee majoring in Political Science. Leonard and I only wish he'd drop the minor in "partying!" (pause for laughter). Kacky just got her braces off and shined as "Townsperson Number 5" in St. Anne's production of "Hello, Dolly!" and our cat Mittens just continues to be a barrel of laughs, hugs, and pure joy. We've included a hand-stamped and decorated brown paper bag for you to throw up in while you read this!" Ok, I know that's a little harsh, but you know you've read something similar. Maybe I'm just bitter, being that I don't think I could even start to write a Christmas newsletter. I mean, what would it say? "My job is going well. I think they really like me there. I recently got a haircut, some new slacks, and am currently collecting ex-boyfriends. Send help." Love, Ed.

So, yes, Christmas cards. Here's a fun, personal alternative to the boxed set or the typical insert a family photo card. We've all seen those fun cards in stores, you know, the ones with an old black and white photo, accompanied by a funny caption that adds a spin to what "could be" happening in the photo. For example, a picture of an old "church lady" dancing at a party with a caption saying "Not only did Helen bring the Green Beans Almondine to the neighborhood potluck, she always brought the funk." (pause for laughter.) Needless to say, I thought it would be really fun to recreate this idea using a holiday photo from my own childhood. Thanks to my good friend and graphic designer Todd of Soder Tass in Nashville, TN, we were able to create the card below. Todd took it to the next level, making the card look like a page out of an old photo album and like the card had been typed on an old typewriter. I've had so much fun sending them out, and my family has really enjoyed opening the cards and seeing an old, familiar face. They're personal, funny, and funky. You could easily recreate this idea with any photo, whether it be a childhood photo, a family photo, wedding photo, or well, any photo. It gives folks a chance to delve a little into your life and have a good laugh over the holidays. You can easily make a card like this using your own computer. If you didn't want it to be a seamless greeting card, you could easily do an "insert" card, make a lot of copies of the photo, and include it with the caption/message in each card.


Inside. (Click on the photo to make it larger/read the text)

Here's a quick example using a photo of my sister Lauren, circa early 1980's.

"Lauren really struggled to find a polite way to tell the family that tinsel was Out and that they really should have gone monochromatic on the holiday decor this year. Red and Silver?
Oooohhh, Ouch."
So, just a fun idea for your next holiday/New Years card. I also thought this would be a fun way for me to share my Christmas card with you all and say Thank You for reading my little blog/thanks for being so forgiving when I get behind and don't blog as much as I should. Keep it Simple this Holiday season.

May your days be merry and bright.



  1. I knew I could count on you for a great holiday tip that also made me laugh out loud. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family. My parents are snowed in on top of a mountain right outside Cville. And I thought it was bad here in Richmond!

  2. love the cards!!!!! you might just have a profitable gig with those!

  3. Hey, Chuckles!
    LOVED getting your card! What a HOOT! Hope you have a great Christmas.

  4. Just promise me that when you go to get your glamour shots, please do not forget the feather boa and the cowboy hat!