Dear Friends and Family:
I do not want your family holiday card for Christmas.
I do not want your group photo in faded, stone-washed denim and matching white oxford shirts, where the top button is ever-so-carelessly left open, the hair wind-swept, and the hems of your jeans hurriedly rolled up because your toes are buried in the sand, and the tide is coming in on the beach you visited during your yearly August jaunt to Maine or Nantucket.
I do not want your faux laughter as you frolic in the virgin leaves of early autumn at a local municipal park that is doubling for your own backyard, wearing coordinating red and white scarves, even though it was the middle of an Indian summer, and the weather was still 80 degrees.
I do not want your carefully staged poses around the Christmas tree, where the kids are lined up in chronological order, each cradling a well-combed Shih Tzu, or where the older children stand behind the younger ones, who are crouched and nestled among presents containing iWatches, Beats by Dre, and (surprise!) a new drone for Dad.
I do not want a collage of your chubby toddler, with his new glinting awkward toddler teeth smiling at me from every corner, and dressed in a miniature khaki sports jacket and pants, with a green tartan bow-tie that we all know he will tear off the minute the photo is finished and right before he proceeds to dip his chubby, toddler fingers into the jar of Christmas apple butter that you received as a gift from your coworker this afternoon.
I do not want these cards because I am already your follower on your preferred social media platform. I have already seen the photo you have posted of your favorite child not even five minutes ago, or is, wait… streaming live this very moment as heralded to me by a floating bubble that has mysteriously popped up and disappeared on my screen.
I do not want these cards because it only serves as a reminder that, during these festive times, I have as yet failed to put up my Christmas tree, string holly-flecked garland round my banisters, or carefully create a homemade wreath of subdued white winter flowers, the tutorial of which is pinned on my board labeled HOLIDAY CRAFTING WITH THE CHILDREN. Like the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, your family holiday cards serve an omen revealing that I have not yet made the ironic hipster gingerbread men cookies (complete with man buns) that I promised everyone at last year’s office Christmas party, bought presents for the community helpers in my life on Amazon (the urgency of which is heightened now that my Prime membership has expired), nor will I succeed, in time for Christmas, to gather my family into a tableaux of holiday cheer, drive to Target with my three screaming kids to pick up the prints, and then lovingly stuff, label, and stamp each envelop in Santa’s hellhole — I mean, workshop — into the wee hours of a Monday morning, where, by the way, no creatures are stirring, not even a mouse.
PS. I am still waiting for that invite to Nantucket.