Guilt and holiday cards

Photo by Mahlon Burch - This is as close to a holiday card as we'll get this year.Despite the article on Slate suggesting Facebook has killed the holiday card, my mantel is thick with them. Maybe my friends haven't gotten the memo that we're not supposed to have time for this sort of thing anymore. Thank goodness for me.

I love holiday cards. I always have, ever since I was a kid and our family would receive scads of them in the mail, along with letters that outlined all the year's big events, including but not limited to: bitter divorces, stints in rehab, and genital surgery. (I'm not making this up. People really did put that information in their cards. Now, they put it on Facebook, so maybe Slate has a point, after all.)

In any case, every time I look at the array of cards on my mantel, I feel horribly guilty for not having sent any myself. I actually haven't sent any out in the last couple of years, not since what I considered the greatest holiday card in the history of holiday cards was a complete and utter failure.

You know those holiday sweaters, the really embarrassing ones that look like a craft closet and a ball of yarn got together for one night of drunken debauchery and will never live down the photos that someone posted on the Internet? Yeah. Those sweaters.

My plan was to get one for everyone in my family. We'd dress up in them and put on prosthetic Gnarly Teeth, and it would be, quite simply, the funniest card ever, a sort of Hillbilly Holiday Gothic.

As so often happens to me, though, my idea was better in theory than in reality.

For starters, those holiday sweaters are like Donald Trump's gold bathroom faucets: tacky, and also ruinously expensive. So I did the budget route and got us matching sweaters at Old Navy. There weren't any appliqued reindeer on them, but neither did I spend more than $500 on something meant to be a joke.

Then came the problem with the Gnarly Teeth. Alice, who was only about 2 at the time, couldn't really fit them in her mouth. So instead of looking like a happy hillbilly, she looked like she was chewing on a ping pong ball. 

Also? The photographer, my dad, was NOT amused by the setup. You know you're not going to get a good picture when the photographer is philosophically opposed to making a joke out of the Sacred Holiday Photo Experience.

Every year of our childhoods, my dad shot roll after roll of pictures trying to get a good one of the five of us--shots ruined by everything from ill-timed Oreo breaks to my toddler sister's missing underpants (those put the X-rating in X-mas for sure). It was a really big deal, and an entire wall of their house is covered in these photos.

Despite his opposition, I insisted. I would have my Hillbilly Holiday Gothic, and the people would laugh.

Only that didn't happen. Not only did no one laugh, no one even said anything. It's like no one even noticed. I'd gone to great lengths to make us look comically hideous, and to our friends and family, we looked like we did every other day of the year.

It's possible the experience has scarred me for life. But maybe next year I'll be ready to jump back in the game. Especially if I find a good deal on matching elf suits for the lot of us....