I Can’t Spell Good – and Other Christmas Card Confessions

File this one under: EPIC CHRISTMAS CARD FAIL.

I just took a closer look at our family Christmas card, and (deep sighhhhh), I spelled our own bleepity-bleeping last name wrong.


Shut up. You don’t know how to spell it either. (I have since learned it’s “Filiatreault.”)

I am a writer by trade. I mock bad spellers for sport. I am a cotton headed ninny muggins.

Maybe this is Christmas Card Karma (if I believed in such a thing). Because over the years, trust me, I’ve cared a little toooo much about pursuing the perfect Christmas card — especially the picture part. I deserve my comeuppance.

Every year without fail, I would designate one dreaded perfect fall afternoon as PICTURE DAY. I would scout a quintessential New England spot — preferably a beach or a Currier-and-Ives-ish tree farm. I would cue the sun to bathe us in a golden glow of afternoon light.

And, with lots of Yosemite Sam mutterings, I would commence to hen-pecking and cattle-proding the brood — all to get its collective act together long enough to simultaneously look cute. And color-coordinated. And to smile naturally without that weird straining. And to not look pouty or blink or squint or have chapped lips that take over an entire facial quadrant.

As God is my witness, I would have my perfect Christmas card photo. And I didn’t care who suffered PTSD in the process.

holiday mini sessions 2012 332

One year a friend took our pictures at a local mansion, which was quite lovely. But I couldn’t help wondering if I looked like a Real Housewife of Suburban Connecticut. Not near enough silicone, but still…

holiday mini sessions 2012 297

This one didn’t make the cut. Check out the randy pair in the back.

Oh, there have been tripods and there have been tears.

Some years I pulled it off. Some years I hired it out (which went way better – see above). And some years I just flubbed it royally.


Here’s the year we were all weirdly blurry.  I was hoping people would think I was being “artsy.” I was not.

And finally, I just decided — to heck with it. I am so done.

I am done forcing the issue. I am done caring so much about something that really doesn’t matter. I am done turning a perfectly lovely fall day into a forced march of grumpy dwarves. I am done being all phony baloney.

Now I just do a collage card of some nice pics from the year (that did not require bloodshed) and call it a day.

I mean, really. Our family has never once lounged in khaki by sand dunes or walked hand-in-hand on train tracks (that is seriously ill-advised). Our family does not smile all the time or like each other all the time or dress presentably even a fraction of the time.

But we do love each other…most of the time. And we do sit together on the couch in our PJs more of the time than any board of pediatrics would recommend.

So here’s a real Merry Christmas photo (or three) from the FILIATREAULTS (see how I did that? I can spell occasionally).


The doll is the best dressed of the lot by a country mile. (And don’t tell, but I cheated and covered our fraying couch arm with a blanket coated in dog hair. Because THAT’s better.) This is how we roll.


Will has been throwing up all day. How’s that for reality?


My feet look enormous enough to smote a small village. They are usually not pictured. Just keepin’ it real.

Merry Christmas from “the real us.” From the heart and from the couch.

(Now it’s your turn. Tell me — or better yet, show me — one of your Christmas card fails so I can feel better about myself.)

6 thoughts on “I Can’t Spell Good – and Other Christmas Card Confessions

  1. Is that a live Christmas tree I see in the background? I feel like you are flaunting your hap-hap-happiest Christmas in my face. Oh, and I haven’t taken pics for our cards this year at this point. It may just be my illegible signature.

    Marry Christmas Charlie Brown!

  2. One word: COLLLLLLAGE. The collage card is a thing of beauty. Even if the family is generally not. It has saved my life. No more photo shoots from hell! And don’t hate me b/c of my real live tree. Geez, Miss, I DO have standards. Please.

  3. Your X-rated picture of you molesting your husband in the backgrouns while the kids pretend that Mom and Dad only grouse at each other and no more is DEFINITELY taking the “Christ” out of Christmas. I applaud you for that. Now get a room. With your own tripod.

  4. Notice how I expose my own vulnerabilities by thinking faster than I type and hitting “submit” before re-reading what I intended to write? Oh, well. I’m busy getting our own xmas collage together. I have better things to do than proofread. That’s for paid editors.

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