I have enough adorable kid photos to fill a recycling bin.

When did Christmas cards become all about photos of people’s kids?

This is really two different things, in my mind. One is that so few people even send Christmas cards anymore. I know they’re a pain in the ass. Every year I think, “Oh, I can write Christmas cards while I wait for the laundry/cookies/dinner/this show on TV,” and every year I get halfway through and think, “Why the hell does it take so long to write some Christmas cards?!” But it’s tradition, and I think it’s lovely to actually spring for the $0.46 (and whatever the breakdown cost is for the card and envelope) to let someone know I’m thinking of them during this season.

As of right now, I have received 15 cards. That’s it. How sad is that? Granted, a lot of my friends and family are last-minute types, so maybe I’ll get a few more in the coming days, but I’m going to bet that I top off at 25, outside. Which means that half the people I send cards to don’t return the greeting. (I’m pretty sure that half the cards I’ve received only came because they got mine first.)

I haven’t even gotten a card from my parents yet.

Of the 15 cards I’ve received, eight are collages of kids. The only cards that came with art and not snapshots of precious children are the ones that came from people who don’t have children.

Here’s the irony: 20 years ago, these photo cards would have been grand. You know why? Because it would actually have been a year since I’ve seen some of these kids. I wouldn’t have been force-fed photos semi-weekly on social media since the day they were born. I have actually seen these kids grow up. Which means I have no need for photos of them in my mailbox.

Except my nephews and my niece. I’ll take those.

It’s not that I don’t like children; regular readers know that I do. It’s just that I don’t like narcissism. (And I have noted before the irony of disliking narcissism while being a blogger.) And I thought, for a while, that it was an affordability issue, but then I looked it up and it turns out… these cards are way more expensive than the photo-less ones I buy at a store. Way more!

I realize that many of you who are reading this right now might be photo-card-senders. Please understand that I don’t dislike the people who send them. I love them; that’s why I get cards from them, and why they get cards from me. But I guess I’m kind of old-fashioned in addition to being childless. I guess that means I don’t get it. When I was a kid, parents didn’t brag that much about their children. When my parents were kids, parents mostly thought their children were horrible burdens and gaping mouths clamoring to be fed.

It was a simpler time.

My cousin, who is single and childless (and 41 and has never moved out of her parents’ house, but I digress) also sent a photo collage card… but it was a collage of places she traveled to this year. She’s always been a little all about Eve, but once I got past that, I couldn’t help but like the idea. “In your face, Parents of Adorable Offspring. Did you get to go anywhere besides the grocery store this year? Nope.”

So, though I love all the kids who are peering happily at me from the meager string of cards I’ve collected, I’d like to ask that people do two things next Christmas:
1. Send an actual card
2. Try to make it about something other than themselves and their kids

Feel free to tell me I’m an asshole in the comments section.

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18 thoughts on “I have enough adorable kid photos to fill a recycling bin.

  1. I am going straight to hell. But I’m glad you are going there with me.

    Do I need to see an 8×10 color glossy of your kids when the live next door? And after the holidays, if I throw them into the bin, am I a terrible person? Did I ask for a picture? ??

    I feel rotten, but when is it appropriate to stop sending pictures of your kids? When they go to college? When they marry? When they have children. Grandchildren. Great grand children.

    Oy vey.

  2. When my kids were young, I sent those photo cards. One year I decided to send regular cards and I received cards from relatives and friends wondering why I didn’t send a kid photo card because they wanted to see how they’ve grown. So, the following year, I sent photo cards again. When the kids got a little older, I made small photocopies of the school photos and enclosed them only in certain peoples’ regular non-photo cards. When my oldest went off to college, I stopped the photos all together. So, I’m on the fence about the photo cards. Now that I’m older and my friends and family members no longer have young children, I only get a couple of photos cards. I’ll tell you what really annoys me big time are generic Christmas letters!!!!!!! OMG! Make it stop! One couple, who is childless, sends an obnoxious photo card each year of them posing in front of a sign of some place they visited and as well as photos of all their travels along with a letter. Their letter is inane and riddled with typos and grammatical errors and misspellings and who the hell cares where they traveled when most of us were stuck at home not being able to afford going anywhere. It’s like our faces are being rubbed in their good fortune and exciting life. Many years ago I used to receive a very long, multi-page generic letter from a family with kids that included a quiz at the end to make sure we read and comprehended the letter. The guy who wrote these was a doucher and his wife ended up divorcing him.

    • Right – your kids were “young” before social media exposed everyone to them all the time, so people DID like getting the photos. But you are absolutely totally correct – the form letters are THE WORST. I have happily not received one this year. I think that’s because I didn’t send a card to the people who usually send the form letter in response. One of them writes it from the perspective of the family dog. GAH.

      • You’re right that social media makes photo cards unnecessary. My kids were born in 1986 and 1990, long before social media. Even when my son went off to college in 2004, social media was practically non-existent. A Christmas letter from the family dog??? That takes the cake!

      • Hold the phone! I just received a first…. a generic blast email greeting from someone I haven’t seen in years with a link to a video of their family, and yes, they have kids. UGH!

  3. You’re an asshole in the comments section 🙂 Being a grandfather has made me crazy about little kids. When I’m not around my grandkids, I watch other peoples little kids to make up for it. I don’t want to be one of those old codgers who scares kids and their mothers, though, so I do it from a distance. So, I came home from the Bat Mitvah we recently attended with a phone full of pictures of kids I hardly knew. In our park, every single day there are families, all dressed up for holiday pictures by the lake, more and more often with professional photographers. I sometimes think we are so busy taking pictures of our lives that we forget to live them. Muri and I have always been aware that most people don’t share our enthusiasm for our kids and grandkids, so we are not picture showers (unless someone starts it first, then, watch out. Ours are cuter than theirs). I like the idea of family reality cards. This is my son getting busted for smoking pot at school. This is my daughter, flunking out of hairdresser school. This is my son-in-law … well, you get the point. I don’t know if this gets me into hell with you and Elyse, but if it does, we’ll need scotch.

  4. Pingback: Wicked Stepmother Cookies | JM Randolph, accidentalstepmom

  5. Amen. My personal rant would be about the people who just stick something (a photo card, for example) in an envelope and mail it to me – without taking the effort to write anything. Save your postage and the paper. Even fundraising letters are more personalized than half the cards I receive. Your child’s photo is not cute enough that it compensates for your own personal effort in writing a note. I send out approximately 40 cards and always take the time to handwrite a note to each person (usually filling the whole card – not just some lame “Happy Holidays!” thing).

  6. Holy crap! How did I get so behind on your blog? From the holidays and then my computer virus crash at work where I lost all my favorites (you!), I have been remiss. So sorry.

    Anyway, yes I am one of those pictures of my kids senders. But I get your apathy on the whole thing. I get tons of them from people I see every day or haven’t seen since last Xmas. And when I am taking everything down, I feel sort of guilty throwing them away, because they are all these pics! But, I also only send those picture cards to close friends and family. To my blogger peeps and other asshole friends like myself, I send funny, smartass cards. Because that’s how I roll. So, I do both, I guess.

    • No need to apologize for being behind. Trust me, you haven’t missed much. Now that we’re about a month removed from the whole holiday thing, I feel a little bad about my rant.

      But I’m sure I’ll return to it in about 11.5 months. 🙂

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