It started in 1996. We had been married five years and were approaching our first Christmas with a child. Katie was not only our first child, but was the first grandchild on both sides of the family. Until that point, the Christmas cards we sent were purchased and sent without much creative input on our parts.
But, we were proud parents, and had a beautiful baby that we were crazy about and were sure the world would want to know about the little girl born to us just a few months prior. So, we decided that year, we would send a Christmas card that would be different than any we had sent in the previous years.
Anne Geddes portraits were really big then, too. You know, kids in presents, or pumpkins, or sleeping in teddy bear costumes on beds made of rose petals. You get the idea.
We decided that Katie would be a little gift; after all, she was the best present we had received that year, right? So, in our house, we moved the kitchen table, put down a muslin background and scattered twinkly lights, ribbon, garland, and other items around her, along with some strategically placed ribbon to clothe her. With big studio lights popping, I dangled over her and managed to get one sweet little smile, and our Christmas tradition was born.
Cutest thing ever, right?
So, we felt like we set the bar a little high on the first card. We throttled back a little in the next few years, but always tried to do something fun and creative with Katie, such as sticking her in a present, making her into a reindeer and an angel.
And then, along came Sarah.
With two kids in the equation, there were years we were lucky just to get them both in the same frame. But, the tradition continued. We played it safe for a few years, getting the two girls together in Christmas sweaters or pajamas, happy to get them in a shot, many times at the last possible moment before we needed to send them out.
One year, we decided to wrap them in Christmas lights to do something fun. It turned out well, and we began to see some creative potential. The next couple of years, we opted to take some photos that included lights, two of which we took on annual family trips to Silver Dollar City in Branson to include lights.
And so, our tradition has continued. Crystal’s layout skills have elevated our most recent cards and we also started pushing the envelope in terms of theme. One of the things that I love about our family is the laughter; at the dinner table, in the car, whenever we are together, there is usually a moment of unbridled mirth. Starting in 2010, we started doing layouts that were more elaborate, and adopting themes that were more whimsical than in past years.
We adopted a theme we saw in a card we received that had church staff members in multiple frames spelling “Merry Christmas” and decided to do that with the girls, letting them show a little personality in the process:
That was a lot of fun to photograph; after a couple of frames, we had to stop because Crystal had tears running down her face from laughter after previewing the images. Did I mention that the sweater I wore lit up? Yeah.
This year, we were having a little trouble coming up with a theme. One of Crystal’s co-workers suggested we re-create some of our older cards, which we took and ran with. You can see that card at the top of this post. It was a lot of fun to try to recreate the old photos, and Crystal once again did a great job in laying out the finished product.
The one area we struggled with was trying to come up with an appropriate message for the card. When searching for quotes online, we came across one that was attributed to a poem by Theodore Geisel, or as many of you know him, Dr. Seuss.
It was perfect, especially in the abbreviated form we used: “December is here before it’s June. My goodness, how the time has flewn! How did it get to be so late so soon?”
It has indeed gotten so late so soon. For 17 years, Christmas has been marked with these cards. Trips have been made, through ice and snow. Early mornings with squealing kids that followed late nights of assembling toys (or returning home to retrieve forgotten ones). Kids have been wedged among the gifts while making road trips to see grandparents.
Great-grandparents have witnessed births, and then passed. In some cases, grandparents, too.
The kids in the photos have gotten taller. And smarter. And more talented. And even more adored with every new card.
Time, indeed, has flewn.