Putting Stock in Holiday Cards

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The nominations will be arriving any day now.  Each one will be carefully considered.  It’s the Holiday Card Mom-Choice Awards.  Majority rules, and I am the only judge.

Holiday cards have become a winter sport. Enthusiasts begin conditioning as early as July: planning wardrobes for professional photo shoots, pouring over cardstocks, fonts, and ribbons, mulling over just the right wording. Which pen to use to sign the cards, choosing custom return address labels with family monograms or snowflakes.

One of my friends has actually transitioned from card to holiday brochure.  Literally, an extra large tri-fold collage of professional photos capturing what life would be like if you lived inside of an L.L. Bean catalogue.  Makes me wonder what is wrong with my family that we never go to the beach in rolled up jeans to hold hands while jumping at the water’s edge.

If card giving is now sport, card-receiving fans do not take their role lightly, either. Whether hanging from thick, velvety ribbon attached to a door, secured to a Rudolph card holder, or arranged in lined basket on a coffee table, decking the halls now incorporates creatively displaying Christmas and Hanukkah cards.

It has become impossible to simply pick my favorite each year.  Many cards deserve recognition for different reasons.

The Billboard for Puberty is awarded to card containing a photo of the kids who have changed so much from the year before, it causes a jaw-dropping pause. The braces are off and the bra has been added to the wardrobe. Baby fat is replaced with brawn.

The Tail Wagger Award –I enjoy cards with the family pet. One of best we received was the family’s golden retriever wearing a chef hat, sitting next to a huge stock pot, in which their baby sat wearing a lobster costume.

The Norman Rockwell Award – those photos or cards that capture the nostalgic, Americana holiday moment. One prior winner- a child hysterically crying on Santa’s lap.

Tinsel Globe Award: The cards which frame a photo of the family on camels in the middle of the Sahara, smiling on the unmistakable Great Wall in China or bundled in scarves, berets, and cute pea coats in front of the Eifel Tower.  It seems I receive these types of cards when I am home with a head cold, the kids are on break with no plans, watching cartoons, and the house is a mess.

My mother-in-law, the reigning champ in the Most Religious category, has never veered away from the real message of Christmas.  Her cards come via places like the Marianist Mission of Mary, with a cover illustration of the Madonna and Child, and an inside message announcing that our family will be remembered at Novena of Masses.  It is a beautiful reminder that there is still sacredness to the season.

Notable Quotable– Love when a quote from a song, movie, poem, or literature is the central theme of the card. Even a simple “Ho Ho Ho,” when used right, can go a long way.

Other awards include the Caught up with the Jones, (the perfect avenue for sharing the good news of the new job, completion of the dream home and Susie becoming a Rhodes scholar – third in the family, imagine that!), Most Sparkly,  From Furthest Away, Funniest, and Most Original.

All told, this busy season, if you find time to get any kind of card addressed, stamped and in the mail, you are a winner.

Don’t forget to add me to your holiday card list!

Jill Fales is the mother of four and author of “My Laundry Museum & Other Messy Gifts of Motherhood,” available at Jillfales.com. 

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