Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Christmas letter (and a sneak peek)

We sent out our first "family" Christmas card after we got married in 2008. I was still very new to letterpress and had come up with the brilliant plan to produce a rather complicated two-color letterpress card that year, not thinking, of course, about what a bad idea this was for such a newbie. I waited until the last minute and then made every rookie mistake in the book. Still, the card didn't turn out too bad for my first attempt, but apparently not well enough that I decided to keep any of them around to photograph... That year we also started a new tradition: our version of the Christmas card letter.

All of you probably receive at least one of these every year, and some of you probably write one of your own. Most of the time, these letters provide a (sometimes painfully) detailed account of all the highlights (or lowlights) of the past year. We hear about everywhere you went for vacation, how many times little Johnny made it on his school's honor roll, how Jim Bob and Peggy Sue are doing at work, how sick Grandma Betty has been, etc. You get the idea.


That first year, the husband took responsibility for producing our Christmas letter, which he used to tell just one funny story from the whole year--about how we broke down on the way to our honeymoon destination. For months afterward we heard from people about how much they enjoyed it.

In 2009, we upped the ante just a bit.

With a little more experience under my belt, and a lot more time to print it, I brought back the 2-color letterpress Christmas card, but with a simpler design that was easier to print.

Christmas card 2009 front

I also started something new: putting the date on the back of the card along with a little message, just to see if anyone ever looked back there. (Some people actually do!)

Christmas card 2009 back

The husband once again produced the Christmas letter. Originally, the letter was going to tell about how I spent four weeks at the tail end of winter with no indoor plumbing due to our remodel (you try sharing an outdoor porta-potty with construction workers when the temperature is hovering around 20 degrees F!) while the husband called me from Brisbane, Australia to tell me how luxurious the marble bathroom was in his 5-star hotel. How convenient that he had to go to Australia for "work" just as we lost the plumbing in the house... 

In the end, though, that story lost out to one about how I murdered some baby carrots one night. See, we were eating dinner one night at Hell's Backbone Grill, one of Utah's highest-rated restaurants, while on a short trip to Boulder, Utah for my birthday. I wrote about the place in this post. And, well, I'll let the husband tell this part of the story.

During our first meal there, I was in awe of the plate in front of me. Meatloaf covered in chipotle cream sauce. Spaghetti squash so sweet you’d think it was sugar cane. Cooked vegetables that perfectly balanced acidity and spice. And then I saw it: A lone baby carrot, abandoned and defenseless. Not the “baby” carrot that started life as a big carrot before it was pushed through a set of industrial blades that whittled it into the blah little orange cylinder you see in a bag with one pound of its brothers. No, this baby carrot was special. It was intact. It was small—less than one inch long! It still had its green top and long, tapering tail. It had wrinkles! And there it sat.

What do I do? Do I send it back to the kitchen in protest? The dishwasher may not appreciate the irony and my carrot would meet its end in the compost pile out back. Or, even worse, it would end up in the garbage disposal where it would be ground into a thousand pieces and washed into an underground grease trap. Should it be released back into the garden, from where it should never have been taken? I decide that it is small enough that I’ll hide it in my pocket, smuggle it outside, and release it back into the wild. Perfect.

I finish my dinner (as usual). Melissa is half done with her dinner (as usual). 'Finished?' 'Yep. You?' 'Can’t eat any more, I’m stuffed.' 'Great, hand it over.' As we trade plates, I realize my mistake. My hand is too slow. My heart is beating faster. Melissa plucks the infant carrot from my plate. 'How cute!' she exclaims, as she smiles knowingly at my horrified face. And then I hear it, a sound that—to this day—is almost too painful to think about: Snap! Crunch, crunch, crunch...

That year we got even more comments about how refreshing our Christmas letter was and how much people looked forward to receiving it.

So this year, the pressure is really on and is compounded by the fact that the baby is due at the end of December (but I'm petrified that s/he'll come really early) and so I plan to have my Christmas cards ready to send out the day after Thanksgiving.

I actually printed the cards in September this year. I went with a simpler one-color design to make things easy for myself, but hopefully people will still enjoy it. Yesterday I finally got around to scoring and folding all the cards. Here's a little sneak peek.

Christmas card 2010

Christmas card 2010

And just the other night the husband laid the flash drive on the kitchen counter that holds this year's story. All year long, after each notable incident (like the tire almost flying off the truck while we were driving to Lake Powell with friends), we'd ask ourselves "Is this Christmas letter worthy?" We had a few topics on the list for consideration, but in the end the husband decided to go with a completely different topic, one that has recently created quite a bit of debate between us, our friends, and our family. That's all I'm saying. Hopefully everyone will enjoy it and it will finally silence the debate. Or really inflame it! :)


  1. Hey! I want one of your funny cards...put me on your list girl! I'll save it in a box under the bed.


  2. I love your story idea instead of the typical (and sometimes hard to stomach) parade of facts.

  3. That's a fab card.
    I love the details of the tree and the simplicity of the colors you used.
    Anybody would be happy and feel special to receive it.

  4. What a brilliant idea. I've always thought the Christmas card thing was kind of useless--everyone stresses out so much over them, for what? So we can throw them away, or horde them? How many people even *read* them, or read them because they really care?

    Anyway. I think yours is the first Christmas card/letter combo I'd actually truly enjoy getting. Kudos to you.


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