The Excruciation of Christmas Cards.

1. Realize it’s November.  And next comes December.  Panic.

2. Try to choose a photographer.  Too many great ones to make a decision like that.  Panic.

3.  Try to find a time that works for everyone involved.  Curse Daylight Savings Time.

4.  OUTFITS.  Panic.

5.  They must coordinate but not match.  Colors! What colors do we look good in?? Panic.

6.  Realize that half the family’s chosen outfits are of the summer persuasion and the other half belong to winter.  Panic.

7.  Try to find sleeves and jackets for an attempt at seasonal coordination.  Panic.

8.  Day of photos: realize that one’s own shirt isn’t the most flattering.  PANIC.

9.  Attempt a day-of wardrobe rework. Realize that coordinating four MORE outfits is more difficult than climbing the Cliffs of Insanity with the help of toothpicks.  Panic.

10.  Dig out shapewear.  Hope it covers the evidence of Thanksgiving consumption frivolity.  Admit that it probably won’t.  Panic.

11.  Assess the day.  Realize that the day already has so much activity that the chances of the children cooperating for photographs is approximately .0004%.  Panic.

12.  Tell oneself that no matter what, photos will be over soon, and then The Christmas Card Process will all be downhill from there.  Moment of calm.

13.  Photo time arrives.  Remember that toddler is in a state where getting him to look at the camera and smile at the same time will take an effort equal to that of tracking down seven horcruxes.  Panic.

14.  Photographer begins.  Clearly, he likes children.  And children like him.  Moment of Calm.

15.  Family photos….individual photos…perhaps we can get some of the kids together?  They disagree.  Panic.

16.  Photos over.  Shapewear removed.  Breathing resumed.  Moment of calm.

17.  Time to think about the rest of the Christmas Card Process.  Panic.

18.  Need a return address stamp.  Ooh! Cool ones on Etsy!!  Oh – WAY to many cool ones to choose just one.  Panic.

18b.  Crowdsource stamp choice using Pinterest and Twitter.  Moment of calm.

19.  Photos back.  Photos lovely.  Time to design the Christmas Card.  And pick…just…
one photo???  Or maybe five.  Panic.

20.  Design Christmas Card.  Remember the issue of being gifted with nonexistent design aesthetics.  Panic.

21.  Send Christmas Card Design to tasteful friend.  Receive back recommended edits.  Realize one’s horrible abilities in design also means that one has to read recommended edits five times to grasp what to do.  Panic.

22.  Make recommended edits.  Sit back in amazement at tasteful friend’s ability to make it look so much better.  Momentary calm.

23.  Upload to photo printing site.  Which has three margins.  Try to understand how to properly position photos.  Panic.

24.  Pull out last year’s address list.  Realize many more people need to be thought of, tracked down, and added.  Panic.

25.  Have the Eureka moment of how fun it would be to send Christmas Cards to blog friends!!  Excitement.

26.  Realize that there’s no way of knowing how many blog friends would want Christmas Cards, and that one must make an estimate of how many to order.  Panic.

27.  Hit the Order Button on the Christmas Cards.  And hope it’s all right.  With no typos.  PANIC.

28.  Begin thinking about stamps.  And envelopes.  And whether the address stamp will make it in time.  And ink pads.  And whether the cards will make it out before the 25th.

29.  Realize it’s the middle of December.  And three weeks were just spent completely focused on Christmas Cards.  And they haven’t even arrived yet.  And now there are two children’s birthdays and three Christmas Dinners and parties and present shopping and many other holiday doings looming near and begging for attention.  PANIC.


And that’s where I am in the process.  How about you?

Now that I’ve completely stressed you out, wanna see some photos?

These were taken by the extraordinarily talented Brian T. Murphy, who currently resides in New York but regularly visits Birmingham.

Noah was the first victim.  He started off with a sneer, daring Brian to just try to get him to smile.


But in the meantime, inadvertently posed for some serious shots.


It took one minute flat.  And he found his smile.



Ali and I tested out the next location, waiting for the men to catch up.


Ali enjoyed the idea of running and jumping onto the blanket, which resulted in a lot of shots like this,


And a few shots like this.



Then the family photos.  I very nearly went with this next photo for our Christmas card because it was so very realistic – Noah is never not in motion.


We tried to get shots of the kids together, but as soon as Ali would reach him, he’d be off again.


There was one – one beautiful photo of the kids cooperating simultaneously.


But Ali can’t be blamed for the low number – she did her best work trying to restrain her brother.


Also, being the older, more responsible child, was more than willing to pose with those who gave her life.



Noah preferred the solitary look.


It ended up being a great experience, one during which I was able to put down my panic for a few minutes to look at least partially calm.

Which is a mighty fleeting feeling during the holiday season.


So.  Want some IRL mail??  If you’d like to exchange Christmas Cards this year (or just get one from me if you’re skipping the stress and not sending them), email me your mailing address at They may arrive just barely before Christmas (or by June if you’re out of the country), but they will go out – my sanity hinges on the successful completion of this process.