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 graspingforobjectivity@gmail.com. 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.

44 thoughts on “The Excruciation of Christmas Cards.

  1. I wouldn’t want to stress you anymore and will instead wait for you to post it on the intrrnets. I would send you one though :) I just ordered mine yesterday with mediocre photos and all. Are you going to send one to Michael’s?!

    1. Yes, but they’re already ordered now, and it would be much more stressful to have 100 left over. So you would be saving me a bullet point in my stress list by allowing me to send one to you.

      And I should totally send one to Michael’s. And Zulily.

  2. I gave up on the photos, since AJ’s school did “holiday pictures” instead of regular school pictures. I miss the lovely photography work of my friend, Ruth Kennedy, but I did not have time for the panic cycle this year. Instead, I sent out 40 Christmas cards, only 16 of which contained the photos. I am sure that I’ll get 40 Christmas cards back, only from people I didn’t send them to. I’ll be sending more out as I realize who is sending them to me this year. I keep a list from year to year (I know, organized of me, right?) but of course a couple of people moved and I had to get their new addresses from my email, etc. Nothing is all in one place. I bought the stamps kind of early, but I’ll have to buy more as the latecomers show up. I bought a couple of packs of Christmas cards from AJ’s school, which are great, but I didn’t want to blow our whole Christmas budget on cards! I ended up at Rite Aid with some less-than-stellar cards, to go with the random ones leftover from a charity gift. I’m trying not to stress over the fact that some people may receive the same card I sent last year. The thought is still there! Merry Christmas!

  3. Well said. I haven’t sent out cards in a few years. While I’m tempted to express how glad I am that I don’t, I have to confess feeling like a bit of a jerk for not doing it. Oh well.

    Another small world thing … Brian doesn’t know us , but after we moved from NY a few years ago , he became friends with the worship folks that Dave my husband used to play drums with at Terra Nova Church. So we hear about these Red Mountain guys in Birmingham and NY. A strange collision of worlds.

    1. I never sent out a single Christmas card until last year, so I was a jerk for 29 years. You have a lot of catching up to do.

      And yes, it DOES seem like you and I know an odd number of the same people!

  4. Well, we got the picture done this summer…which wasn’t that bad. Even though it was the one day of August that was freezing cold! So weird.

    My computer-whiz husband put the card together online, which I gave up on after all the card-making websites decided they hated me and wouldn’t upload anything.

    I have the cards mostly envelope-ed and addressed. Just a few left to do. I actually enjoy that part. I call it “knitting work” because I can relax and focus and go into my own little world and not be bothered. Sort of like how I imagine knitting would feel. Because I don’t knit.

    But you know what the one thing I have a problem getting done is? Getting to the stupid post office to get stamps so I can mail the darn things! I hate going to the post office. With a passion. Always have. But alas, the Christmas cards must be mailed. So I need to figure that out.

    Unless anyone knows how I can get postage without having to make a trip to the post office??? You’d be my new best friend!

    1. You can usually buy stamps at the grocery store checkout. Not sure if they will be seasonal though. Good luck!

    2. WalMart and Office Depot sell them at the checkout. (Office Max, however, looked at me like I was crazy when I asked for stamps.) Can you tell I never buy stamps at the post office either?

    3. YES – I am looking forward to addressing the envelopes, too. Several other readers answered your stamps question in the comments, but I, too, am trying to make it by the post office this week.

  5. We still have to do our pictures, but I have the plan for what I want. We only have one child to get to cooperate, but add in one 120 pound Labrador that tries to eat the camera every time the flash goes off and one eleven month old Lab puppy and I’ll be lucky if I can get a decent shot without knocking the Christmas tree over! Hoping to get them done and out by this weekend…

  6. I think you’ve got my address? Although, I think there’s a conspiracy against things you mail me.. so it should be here by Easter ;)

    I don’t know what happened this year, but I haven’t even thought about cards yet. But now I am. And I’m realising that none of them will get anywhere on time. And pictures? oi.

  7. With my kids all scattered, it is hard to do the “family” christmas card, so I have decided a “Happy (insert year) card” is what we do because we are usually together at Christmas time when our photography daughter can take the pictures. Less stress too.

  8. My stress is the fact that I under ordered. Had to order more, but from a different site since I had a groupon which meant that I had to make a totally new card. I don’t love the new card near as much and I may not get them before Christmas! Shoot! Maybe next year I will succeed.

    1. If I underordered (which I may have done), I’m out of luck – mine aren’t arriving until tomorrow, which means a second batch wouldn’t arrive until the 27th!

  9. Noah’s eyes look stunning in those first few shots! Great choice on the color of shirt he was wearing. Cute shoes on you, too!

  10. Your photographer should come to the west coast! Those are amazing! You and Ali on the blanket…she looks younger (I remember you were upset about her haircut awhile back) And you and Chris look great! And of course Noah is Noah =)

    As far as cards go, I’m Scrooging this year. We send out about 50/year and get back 15/year so I’m only doing return cards this year. And yes, I keep a list so I know all those addresses and who doesn’t ever send us a card, despite all my time/effort trying to upload pics and design cards and……… And I always get inspired/jealous/guilty when I see everyone else’s awesome cards/envelopes/stamps! =) But I love getting real mail so I can’t wait to get your card!!

    1. I would have been one of those horrible people before last year, and chances are I will be again. Thanks to the 26 steps of getting Christmas cards out. :-)

      In fact, now that I think about it, I’m not sure if I sent you one last year after you sent me one. I do hope so…

  11. I am with you as soon as December 1st hits, I go into Christmas card panic!!! However my friend told me about this site that I am now on love with. Cardstore.com , you make your card n enter ur addresses n it address them for u stamps them n mails them out!!!! And saves ur list for next year. Plus they always have a great deal like 70% off. Just a thought to lower ur panic next year!!
    And your pictured are great!!! Always love reading your blog!!

  12. For the first time ever, my Christmas cards hit mailboxes December 1st. This is only because we moved this summer, so I wanted to get mine out early so people would have our new address. We also had to edit our list a bit because it was getting really long. This took a little time. I used cardstore.com this year, and with the special they were running I was able to have the cards mailed for less than I would have paid for a stamp!

  13. Gosh, what a palaver! It sounds like Pintrest has a lot to answer for! Folks in the UK and NZ tend to just buy cards, not make their own. Lovely photos though, and nice for your friends and family to have as well as for your own record (not that you don’t have 60,000 photos of your kids already! :) )

    Still, we had a fairly stressy time in early Dec trying to buy presents as well as cards for folks in New Zealand, preferably things that weren’t food and wouldn’t cost the earth to post. Tricky. All done now, for better or for worse…

  14. I feel like Christmas cards have become the latest arena of subtle mommy competition, and this year part of the contest is how EARLY you can get them out. Seriously, we got two in November!

  15. I haven’t mailed out cards in years. Probably not since I had kids and anyone would actually want to get cards from me!

    I am bad with giving out the school pictures as well as cards though. I have the girls’ last two years’ worth of school pics sitting on my desk, waiting to be given to the grandparents, but, well, yeah. (And we see the grandparents quite often, as we live within 30 miles of them!)

  16. That photo of Ali and Chris is so gorgeous ..and of you and Chris…and Noah doing his own thing..all gorgeous photos really :-)

  17. And this is why I send New Year’s cards…. because I was always bringing them with me on our holiday travels to send them out anyway!

  18. I’m pretty sure my Christmas cards will arrive sometime after Christmas but before groundhog day. I am venturing into Christmas card territory this year, but I just went out and bought some cute pre- made cards. I have neither time nor energy enough for photo cards. You are a brave woman.

  19. Great photos! I used our wedding photos on mine this year since we just got married in October. Now I am waiting for the stamps because I’d rather pay the shipping fee on them than stand in line or go near the post office this time of year. Also, I don’t think the grocery store has anything but the stamps with flags on them and of course you need stamps with snowmen, ornaments or the baby Jesus for your Christmas cards. I tried to explain this to my husband…

  20. I… I … I DON’T believe in Christmas cards! I DON’T believe in Christmas cards! I DON’T believe in Christmas cards!

  21. Life has been so crazy and chaotic here I have yet to put my Christmas card together. Hoping to do that by Tuesday. So behind. lol At least you have yours ordered. You are way ahead of me.

  22. Heh! My Christmas cards are fairly low key, but I added stress this year because I decided it would be “cheaper” to print them at home.

    Suffice it to say that next year we will fork out the at first astronomical seeming sum from a site like Vistaprint, Costco or Shutterfly next year!

    I also added stress by insisting my 3yo individually and laboriously sign each of the 60 cards I printed as “writing practice”. Luckily she enjoyed that. I enjoyed it …less.

    Next year I might even go with giving the addresses to one of those sites and having them automatically add stamps and mail for me. But that might be considered cheating so maybe not!

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