Holiday Card 2017

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Another Holiday Card adventure this year!

Every year we head to the mall, hoping the Santa picture is so crazy awesome that we can use it for our card. Zoe turned 7 this year, and we’ve only been able to use it once…

And yet, I’m hopeful every single year. As you know last year, I almost had to leave my husband over the Santa photo, so come to think of it, maybe we should stop that practice entirely?

But it’s too late for 2017. Besides, several of our holiday card photos were taken NEAR Santa beside the huge Christmas tree in a random mall. What a great backdrop for little kids (and given the number of people doing it, I’m pretty sure we didn’t start this trend)!

We showed up as usual for the obligatory Santa photo, and Bart dropped me off with the girls to be among the first in line. As we walked up to the line I noticed there was a family of Little People in front of us. If you’ve ever been with children around people with differences you’ll understand the mild panic and the sound of opportunity knocking that I felt at that moment.

As the mother turned around to face me and Zoe, I smiled, said “hello” and instantly opened a conversation about how great it was to get to Santa early! Zoe took one look at me then started her wonderful “I’ve never met a stranger” Zoe talk she has had since she spoke her first words.

Ella was completely distracted by a mirror in which she was making faces at herself and  never even batted an eye at the fact the mommy and daddy in front of us were small. Then we ALL engaged with Jacob, their 18-month-old son who was doing exactly what kids everywhere do when standing in line: Being Impatient.

Turns out he loved to hug, really liked little girls (fortunately, I have TWO of those!), and liked to scoot around on his butt (super cute). Also turns out he was not a huge Santa fan (as many young kids aren’t), to which Ella stepped under the rope to catch his eye and try to make him smile. The mom and dad were incredibly nice, and we commiserated about the Holidays and kids. I took a few pictures of the girls beside those huge ornaments they have in the Santa line and ALMOST got a picture for the Holiday Card:

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The moms in line behind me were saying to one another (about Ella) “What is she DOING?!” Believe me, ladies, I have no idea.

Afterwards, Zoe and Ella wrote a letter to the troops (well, Zoe wrote a letter and Ella stuck on the stickers) and then suffered through photo after photo in front of that huge tree. Every year I tell myself I should learn Photoshop to stitch together the “good half” of all the photos I take of the girls together. See what I mean?

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My personal “not a chance” favorites are these:

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In the first, our “art director” had terrible timing, and in the second, Ella is literally yanking Zoe’s fingers apart as she cries out in pain.

Later I made a point to talk to Zoe about the experience in the Santa line. She said, “At first I thought they were kids.” We talked about how important it was to be nice to EVERYONE, to keep in mind that people who are different may not always be treated nicely, and if she ever saw someone NOT being nice that she should be the one to BE nice. We are all just people, and I told her how proud I was of her kindness to others in life in general. I feel very lucky to have such terrific kids!

About a week later, Zoe and I went to see the movie Wonder (which you should absolutely see) about a boy with facial differences which is so life-affirming. Yes, I cried. Zoe’s takeaway? Don’t let anything stand between you and the things you want or need to do. Yes, I cried again – ha!

Back to that Santa photo, it didn’t turn out too badly either, but that weird silken background just isn’t as interesting as a big Christmas tree, in my opinion – and so it made the BACK of the card:

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Speaking of which, I scrambled to assemble and order the card so they would be sitting at home when I returned from Chicago on Friday, December 8 – I even paid a rush fee. No luck. So I was on the phone when tinyprints customer service opened on Saturday morning, where a TOO calm “Santa’s Helper” announced that my cards were “lost” (based on their tracking info) and would need to be reordered…

To her credit, she removed my rush shipping charge AND expedited the new cards.

I’m sure you can guess what happened next: On Monday, I received a box of 160 Christmas cards (my original order) and on Tuesday, I received ANOTHER box of 160 Christmas cards. So, if you’re reading this and haven’t received your card yet (you should have by now) OR wish you had received one (or a second one), please let me know.

OR if you have a crafty idea (other than wallpapering a small room, as my husband has already suggested) about what to DO with 160 extra cards, please share.

Another year has FLOWN by, and another Holiday Card is in the archives. Here we are on Christmas Eve. Unbelievable.

We here at the Johnson home are sending WARM WISHES your way for a very Merry Christmas! [[[[HUG]]]] That’s a virtual, but very powerful, hug!

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