Shiny Happy Faces

Every day this week, the mailman has brought me greetings from afar, typically photo cards featuring the smiling faces of friends and family. But this year, I’ve started to wonder about these picture-perfect greetings.

I’ve sent picture Christmas cards since 2003, the first featuring Craig and my engagement photo. The next year was a photo from our wedding, bubbles surrounding us as we exited the church. We posed in front of the tree with our kitty and puppy in 2005. My pregnant belly filled the 2007 card. And in 2008, we were back in front of the tree, this time with Baby Eve.

Our photo cards continued to reflect our growing family. But this year, something seemed a little fake about the cards I sent, which featured this picture prominently:

Yes, Santa, we’ve been good all year.

We’d dressed up in color-coordinated outfits, braved the photo studio on a Saturday morning, and our patient photographer captured that stereotypical family photo during our 20-minute session. Yes, it’s us. But it’s not reality.

This is reality:

Seriously, are we done yet?

And this:

Here comes Santa Claus … and there goes Owen.

And if Christmas cards were about reflecting reality, I would have sent one of those pictures as my card. It would have been funny. I’m pretty sure my mother would have been appalled.

But looking at the stack of holiday greetings I’ve received from others, it seems standard practice to send out shiny-faced posed versions of ourselves.

Why? Is it a self-conscious desire to always put our best foot forward? Does it have to do with the nature of Christmas itself? We adorn trees and houses and gifts with pretty dressings, of course we would do the same to ourselves.

I read a quote not long ago (attributed to Pastor Steve Furtick): “The reason we struggle with insecurity is we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” What would happen if we all started to send cards (and letters, for that matter) that reflected our behind-the-scenes life?

Maybe next year I’ll be brave enough to send a card documenting one of the funny/exasperating/embarrassing/warts-and-all moments sure to happen in 2013.

For now, Merry Christmas from my smiling (and crying, whining, laughing, fighting, loving, messy) family to yours.

2 thoughts on “Shiny Happy Faces

  1. I enjoy your blogs! You really hit the nail on the head on all subjects. It’s great to hear about a young family saving & enjoying the freebies in life, along with the reality of raising a family, makes for a full life. This business of trying to out spend, leave the kids with a sitter every other night because the kids are too much bother, and not teach them about Faith, morals or ethics is leading this country down the wrong path.

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