Dearest friend/family member,
Thank you for your Christmas card. If you sent me one it is hanging from the valance in my kitchen, bringing me holiday joy. In college my brother-in-law improvised crown molding around his dorm room by taping up every item of personal mail he received. He called it his “Wall of Love”. Friends’ and family’s Christmas cards make up my “Valance of Love”.
If you sent a picture, thank you for that, too. I love seeing your kids grow, and watching you get older, just like we are. You got a new dog this year, huh? Awesome. He’s cute. (Sorry, she’s cute.)
But I’m not displaying your holiday photo anywhere in my home.
It’s not because I don’t love you. I do. I adore you.
But your picture reminds me of that at which I am a raging failure. Here’s what the voices in my head say when I look at your family’s delightful snapshot over and over again:
Aw. I should really get all of us dressed up in matching outfits and go have a professional photograph done.
Yeah. The last time I tried—and prayed fervently all morning that no one would become facially wounded before the big shoot—the boy fell off the jungle gym and broke his arm. At the precise hour I planned for us to be at the photographer in our greens and blues, we were instead getting black-and-whites at the radiologist.
Wow. We should take a trip to Hawaii (or Morocco, or the Grand Canyon, or Mount Rushmore…).
We rarely take big family trips to exotic places, for a few reasons: first, it’s really expensive to fly five people anywhere, especially outside the U.S.; second, we spend most of our vacation time skiing or visiting grandparents, aunts, and uncles; and third, we’re tired, man! Can’t we ever just stay home, veg out with a Netflix marathon, and chain-eat pizza?!?
Their kids look so happy. And peaceful. And loving. Look, they have their arms around each other!
My kids only put their arms around each other to perform a full nelson, to procure an item before another one gains possession of it, or to prevent a sibling from leaving the vicinity of a vile and deadly fart generated by the one doing the hugging.
I don’t look through magazines like Real Simple, In Style, or Martha Stewart Living for exactly the same reason. They make me feel bad about myself.
That’s gorgeous. I should really paint my living room a pale shade of persimmon, and then distress some recovered pieces of antique-shop furniture with chalk paint and a vintage patina…
Right. I will never do this. I hate painting, I’m cheap, and I can barely eke out enough time and shame to dust the furniture I already have.
Look at those kids’ rooms! All the textiles match and there’s labeled storage for everything. And that adorable, custom-made cupola/reading nook at the end of the architect-designed, Victoria-inspired loft bed would be perfect for…
Give me a freaking break. No actual child actually lives in that room. Or if one does, he’s been banished to the basement for the duration of its design, creation, and photo shoot. Any kid—especially one of mine—would trash that Crate & Barrel Psycho-Fantasy inside of sixty seconds.
Wow. That looks delicious. I wish someone would make that for me. Maybe I should…
No, just no. I don’t like to cook, I’m not that good at it, and the smoke detector has already applied for a week’s vacation from its constant vigil over me whenever I’m in the kitchen. When Trader Joe’s makes that dish in a freezer-to-microwave version, then my family and I will enjoy it.
So please understand that if you come to our house expecting to see your Christmas photo propped on the piano or magnet-ed to the fridge or hanging from the kitchen valance, you will be let down. I’m not nearly secure enough in my flaming mediocrity as a woman, wife, and mother to hold my head up as I pass by your photo.
Now I need to go wrap the rest of my family’s Christmas gifts. I ran out of wrapping paper, so I need to head out to pick some up.
Hope the neighbors don’t mind me fishing through their recycle bins for a few more copies of the Sunday comics…