Every year in the middle of the summer, I start brainstorming about what Christmas cards the W and I will send that year. This is not because I'm one of those people who feels the need to outdo herself each year -- really. But neither can I buy a pack of cards at Target and scribble our names inside them -- I just can't. For this I would like to blame my family, they of the long, newsy annual letters detailing the amazing feats of their spouses, children, and pets, and also they of the stunningly beautiful families in matching Christmas sweaters. For whatever reason, I struggle each year with our card.
For my entire adulthood, I have mailed "holiday" cards in January, around the time kids are back in school and Christmas trees are laying in sad heaps at the curb, waiting for the city disposal system to get around to them. Merry (LATE!) Christmas, and (HOPE YOU'RE HAVING) a happy New Year!
But not this year, I told myself. This year, instead of working two full time jobs, I was only working the equivalent of one, or maybe 1.2. I had time to read, to plan, to get things done.
During these months of introspection, I stumbled across someone else's idea for a Christmas card online and was quickly determined to steal it and make it my own. It was simple, yet brilliant. It said everything I wanted it to say.
I would take pictures of our feet, clad in brightly striped Christmas socks.
You see, the W and I have no human children, and renting a few for the purpose of taking an adorable family picture has always seemed disingenuous. Our pets, although quite lovely in real life, are not at all photogenic. This has something to do with their refusal to sit still in the presence of anything resembling a camera. At the sight of said camera, the cats switch into full Kitty Olympics-mode, running across the back of the couch, zipping down the hallway and tearing in and out of bedrooms, until finally coming to rest behind the shower curtain. Baxter loves the camera a little too much -- in most photos, he is a massive black nose approximately an inch from the lens.
And the W and I -- well, forget it. Neither of us loves the idea our cheesy mugs being affixed to anyone's refrigerator for any length of time.
As I saw it, this left only our feet.
We scheduled the Christmas Sock Photo Shoot for a Sunday night, in between Will's marathon weekend-of-work and our very busy Monday morning. We were exhausted and had deep, painful looking circles beneath our eyes -- but it didn't matter. That was the beauty of taking a picture of our feet.
My idea was that we would prop up our feet on our coffee table in a cutesy kind of way, snap a picture, and be done with it. First, there was the problem of getting Baxter out of the way. Then, the background (a zillion books on our living room shelves) looked too busy. I laid out a white sheet, thinking this would be a nice contrast to our Christmas socks, but then it looked like we were in bed, which wasn't exactly what I wanted, either.Finally, we stood and shot down at our feet, which involved leaning over and bumping our foreheads together at inopportune times.
The W, who is generally willing to humor me in situations such as the Christmas Sock Photo Shoot, submitted to the arranging and rearranging of our legs and feet for a good ten minutes, during which two things happened. One, I shot twenty photos, all of which were incredibly stupid-looking, and two, I realized that feet are incredibly ugly things. Also, three, I suddenly remembered that I do not have an artistic bone in my body.
"It looked so cute online," I lamented, scanning through our pictures. "Maybe what we need to do is just take pictures of our socks, without our feet in them."
We took the socks off and did a few "still life" shots against the white sheet.
"Nothing says Merry Christmas like two pairs of dirty socks on a bed sheet," Will mused, at which point I tossed one sock at his head, and Baxter grabbed the other and ran into our bedroom to chew it in peace.
Somehow, it is now December 21. Our sofa table is cluttered with brightly colored Christmas cards from all around the country. I have read the Christmas letters from my family members, marveling at the different paths our lives have taken. I have affixed pictures of smiling children to our refrigerator.
And of course, I haven't sent one. single. card.
Paula Treick DeBoard