This is just urban legend…rumors passed down from generation to generation…

But I’ve heard that there are those that have their Christmas Card recipient list printed out, ready to receive their reciprocal Season’s Greetings. Each card that comes in gets checked off the list – approved to be bestowed upon the next year with yet another Christmas card.

But if, by the 24th of December (or the first of January if they’re feeling especially charitable), there has not been a 100% reciprocity ratio, all remaining persons get Sharpied off the list with vengeance.

Single elimination.

No grace period.

The end.

If those who have had their Christmas card credit declined want to earn their way back onto The Most Holy of Christmas Card Lists, they must send Christmas cards two years in a row without receiving any such acknowledgement or affirmations for their actions.

Then, on the third year, they may again receive their due blessing of a card in return.

If this is actually true, then I shall get Sharpied this year. I’ve gone back and forth with myself, wrestling for a month. Changing my mind more than Prince changes his name.

Should I? Can I? Will I? Won’t I?

And I have finally decided.

I will not. Not this year.

This year, though wonderful, has delivered me to the doorstep of over-commitment with a decisive thud. Between Picture Birmingham and homeschooling second grade and taking Noah to preschool and blogging and accounting and Dysautonomia and running 100 miles a month to fight Dysautonomia, I am a complete slug by the end of every day.

And the process – OH THE PROCESS – of Christmas cards. The designing, printing, asking for your addresses, addressing, mailing, fretting, and stamping of Christmas Cards….I just can’t do it. I normally never know when to say when but I actually think this might be a when moment. So despite my Type A guilt, I am saying when – for this year, anyway.

We did, however, get family photos done.

So I shall share those. And you can pretend they’re printed on cardstock and addressed to you. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll earn a pass.

But if I get Sharpied, I do know that I deserve it, and I shan’t hold it against you.

Brian T. Murphy shot us again this year, who is really just beyond fantastic. And my kids love him, so that seriously helps.

(Although Noah was disappointed that Brian got a new motorcycle that wasn’t red. I’m not sure what he was thinking.)

But regardless of bike bitternesses, Brian can make my kids laugh.


And that’s what makes good photos.


Now, I’m not saying that I didn’t heavily bribe them to smile for pictures,


Because I totally did.


Photography without bribery is like baking a cake without butter – it’s not going to work and it’ll probably taste awful.


So why do that to yourself when for the promise of a few Squinkies and some Swedish Fish, you can have this level of participation?


But a photographer who can bring out the real laughter is also quite invaluable.


All of our pictures were taken at my parent’s house, so my Dad brought his motorcycle around as well. It at least has a red stripe, anyway.


Since Ali and Noah are experts at the trails of Grandkid Paradise, they gleefully ran us around the property to show us where they thought the best photography spots were hidden.


Ali had her heart set on the tire swing,


And we agreed – it was a perfect prop for photos.


So we joined her one by one,


And attempted our first family photo, heavily featuring Noah’s tongue.


Then the cousins arrived, and my Dad brought around his Model A – the one in which my parents drove A Lap of Alabama a couple of years ago.


As always, their personalities had no trouble shining through.

Some children needed to be turned upside down in order to catch their attention fully,


While others were too busy being introspective to look at cameras.


Finally, we attempted it. The first ever professionally taken Full Family Photo.


I know right. We’re amazing, It was the pinnacle of our parenting achievements thus far. And I absolutely adored how Noah was holding onto Tessa.

Brian just kept shooting the family in every way imaginable – my brother and his family,


My parents,


My other brother and his dog,


And the grandparents with their Grandkids. This may be one of my favorite pictures ever.


Or maybe this one.


Eventually, the kids began to wilt,


But my Dad offered the additional bribery of a ride,


And all was right in the world again.


So there you go.

Merry Christmas, and that was way more pictures than would have fit on 5×7 cardstock anyway.


But I am prepared to accept my Sharpie without bitterness, so mark me out if you must.

22 thoughts on “The Potentiality of Being Eliminated.

  1. My new philosophy the past couple of years has been “Christmas without guilt.” I figure, as long as I’m focusing on the real meaning of the season and doing things that are important to my family and me (like baking treats), everything else will be okay.

  2. Wonderful Photos. Thanks for sharing. I agree with Stephanie. “Christmas without guilt” needs to be my new philosophy.

    But I was totally like, “BAM” to my husband last year when we received your Christmas card. “And you said she didn’t even know I existed!”
    Everyday when he comes home from work I tell him, “Rachel said the funniest thing today on her blog!” He always asks me, “Do you really know this person? And does she really know you?”
    Well of course. In my mind anyway. He does not understand the world of blogging.

  3. Love your comments, Stephanie and Lindsay! I have also quoted Rachel in conversations with my husband, and he’s always like, “How do you know someone in Alabama? Is she a sorority sister?”

    What’s funny is about this post is I think you have the hardest part done already! With my family, getting the pictures taken is the absolute worst!

    The pictures are wonderful!

    1. It’s the addressing that takes the longest for me. Because I cannot allow myself to cut corners and print labels – it feels too impersonal. And then I want to make it all fancy, which is slow. And then there are over 300, so there’s that.

  4. I want to send you Xmas cards for the next two years, and then STOP! We could keep it going forever, never acknowledging that we received a card. from each other and dutifully trying to earn a coveted spot on the list, only to give up one year shy! We could go on and on for ages! I’m so glad all the rules are laid out for me!

  5. Not gonna lie, I love getting Christmas cards, but I also send a ton out without paying any real attention to who I get them back from. I think it should be done because it’s fun and you want to, not because you think someone owes you something.

  6. Just finished addressing our envelopes and my husband asked “who are the Callahans?” How do you explain a connection that crosses many state lines without ever having met? Perhaps you would like to take a winter vacation to the midwest?

    1. That’s awesome! And yes – I am DYING to come out west. We drove from Birmingham to Monterey California three summers in a row when I was in Junior High and High School, and I have been craving to do it again. And take sunset pictures all the way out.

  7. You are TOTALLY getting sharpied! Just kidding. I never sharpie anyone. You only get off my list by dying. So don’t do that. And even then I feel very guilty about crossing someone off my list. Haha :) And I agree with Sarah R…the pictures are BY FAR the hardest part of Christmas cards! Then again I’m not friends with hundreds of adoring readers like you are so I’m guessing my list is just a TAD shorter than yours. :) Great pictures! I love them all!

  8. Awesome photos!!!! I think that all holidays should be enjoyed guilt free!!!
    Thank you for sharing! I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!!!!!

  9. I send out Valentines of my son. It is WAY less stressful to get them done in February. Also, his birthday is in August, so everyone gets a photo in the mail twice a year. :)

  10. Great photos! I made the radical decision to NOT send photos this year. I just sent regular cards (from a fundraiser at AJ’s school). I agree with the guilt-free decisions above! I do have a list that gets edited each year based on return cards, because if I didn’t, I would also have to send 300, but this is not set in stone. I send them because I like sending AND receiving them! When we got a flat photo card in the mail with a pre-printed sentiment, AJ (who didn’t know the word for “tacky”) said she just didn’t like it when people didn’t actually sign their cards. She’s too young to remember that we’ve certainly gone that route before. She then helped me sign the cards – the first few started out as “Mary Chrismas The Gallitz Family” before I corrected spelling and punctuation. I also hand address, but don’t hand return address. Merry Christmas to all of you!

  11. Great pictures, Rach!I send out oodles of cards every year (this year it’s 325), and I don’t pay one whit of attention to who sends one to us. I just send them to everyone on my list, and if I don’t get one in return, so be it. So you’ll stay on my list, regardless! :-)

  12. Confession time: Last year we did not do a Christmas card, and with this Christmas barreling down the track like Secretariat at us, it’s not going to get done this year either. Finances have been tight, and between the photography and the printing of the cards and the postage, it just does not fit in the budget. We deliberately simplified Christmas this year because 2014 has just been an exhausting year (two trips to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in two months, that should tell ya something) and we felt that keeping it simple and reducing potential sources of stress was the most important thing for us right now. We don’t regret it. I have not uttered the words “I hate Christmas!” yet so I would call this exercise in simplification a success. :-) I know, I know, call me a Scrooge if you must. We are so surrounded by expectations that we have spent many Christmases walking on eggshells trying not to hurt someone’s feelings and deal with the drama. Ain’t nobody got time for that. We have quite enough drama of our own, thankyouverymuch. My husband and I are finally prioritizing our relationship and our kids, and it feels good. Dang good.

  13. Good for you! I’m blessed in the way my husband always chooses and orders the picture/card. This year since I shattered my wrist he ordered, addressed and sent all of them. I have a feeling if he has to address and send next year the list may become a little shorter. Have a blessed Christmas!

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