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Holiday card vanity
November 26, 2012 4:56 AM   Subscribe

I made a holiday card for myself and my husband. My sister thinks it is embarrassing. I'm not going to send it anymore, but I have a questions about regarding the general consensus of what and when and why certain things are embarrassing or not.

On one side there was a "Happy holidays love John & Jane Doe" type 1-2 sentence message. On the the other side was collage of 17 pictures from the year. About half were of me & my husband together. The remaining half had were about 2/3 pictures of just me (though one had me and another friend) and the remaining 1/3 were of just my husband. This is mainly because if I'm getting dressed up for something I'll have my husband take a few pictures of me just to save the moment, but my husband doesn't ever bother to do the same thing so there are more pictures of me.

My husband thought the card was great when I showed him the proof. So did my mom. I showed it to my little sister and after I hung up with her I was in tears. My sister wasn't trying to be mean though, she was just giving me her honest opinion.

I'm sure there's no absolutely wrong or right answer here, but I would like to find out if the general opinion takes more after my sister or my husband.

My sister's thoughts that I would like to hear the more general reaction to:

1)Three of the photos (of the 17 total in the collage) aren't of me in any identifiable context or activity (ie not out hiking somewhere or doing an activity). They are just photos of me taken this year that I chose to include because I thought I looked pretty in them. She says because that's obviously the reason why I've chosen them it's embarrassing to have them there. My husband says well everybody tries to look their best in pictures so what's the problem? I'm not

2) She says it would be less embarassing if we were including pretty pictures of ours kids (we don't have any) or something. That because it's just of us, it seems more vain.


If it matters, I am 28 and my husband is in his mid thirties.

I'm also really not sure how to know if one is being too vain or when it is embarassing? It seems like many people I know (especially many women who are my friends) have lots of pictures of themselves almost solely because they are pretty and post them on facebook and instagram.

Putting myself in the position of getting a card like the one I was going to send, if it was from a close friend I'd be really proud of my friend and post the card up on my fridge. When I see my friends post pretty pictures on social media websites, it makes me feel happy and I love to leave compliments for them in the comments. I might think ti was weird if someone was posting dozens of pictures every day or something...but I've never really felt disgusted or contemptuous of someone for this stuff.

I thought holidays were the time to send and receive out pretty photos of yourself and your family to everyone, but when does it cross the line? If it helps answer the question as it pertains to my situation specifically, this card right here is extremely similar to the one I made (in terms of size and # of photos) and how the finished card would have looked. Also, the reason I chose to do a collage instead of just picking one or two photos is because A) there wasn't just one photo I really loved that much B) we moved out of state in the past few years and thought people who hadn't seen us like they used to might like it. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (95 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I wouldn't say embarrassing, but I don't commonly see holiday cards with a multitude of photos of adults. The sample card you linked to is of little kids, who seem to get a free pass in the photographic oversaturation category. People don't crave photos of their all-grown-up friends and relatives as much as they do those friends' and relatives' kids.

But by all means, do whatever you want. Last year my wife and I sent out home-made lino-cut cards that, shall we say, very much showed the hand of their makers. Some people who received them surely thought they looked amateurish. But who gives a shit? The whole point was that it was nice for us to do. If we wanted to be like everyone else, we wouldn't be us.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:05 AM on November 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think this is one of those things that plays as a less acceptable form of vanity if you don't have kids. I say this as someone without kids. Sending cards stuffed with photos of one's kids that may or may not include parental figures is a socially acceptable form of vanity we excuse because a) kids! cute! b) they do change a lot year to year in a way adults do not and it gives distant friends a chance to see them grow up a bit c) our social construct requires we make enormous allowance for parental pride and bragging.

I think it's OK to send a couple photo but when you send individual shots it does run the risk of coming across as a vanity/bragging thing. I agree Facebook and/or Instagram are the appropriate venues for that, as you've identified.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:07 AM on November 26, 2012 [22 favorites]


Tell your sister to mind her own business..... and Happy Holidays!!
posted by pearlybob at 5:08 AM on November 26, 2012 [32 favorites]


I think a lot of people who would wish you well would want to see that you and your husband are doing well and enjoying life and would love those pics (or at least not think anything bad of them). I think to send to family and friends it'd be fine. Probably wouldn't send them to colleagues unless you work in a super informal, family environment.
posted by saraindc at 5:08 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I used to lay out and/or print cards like you've described for people all of the time. Maybe some more variety wouldn't have hurt (cool places you went or what have you) but I say that in the name of aesthetic balance and not because I think you were being vain. And, what do I know, probably it's perfectly fine as-is! In any case, you're exactly correct that people curate pretty photos of themselves, and if y'all don't have kids you can hardly be expected to include photos of them! The only time I've thought such cards excessive were when the photos were all staged or quasi-staged professional shots from the same day with or without a bunch of different outfits; then I did occasionally think the collages came off as "I'm so lovely to look upon even I couldn't choose!" If your photos are actually a story of your year, well, there you go.
posted by teremala at 5:09 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought holidays were the time to send and receive out pretty photos of yourself and your family to everyone

Well, from my point of view, no. It's the time to make an extra effort to connect with people, which often involves sending cards and updating them on how your family is doing.

I tend to agree with your sister really. If I were your friend I would love to see that your kids are growing up, and I would love to hear that you graduated, got married, are in better health than last year. I don't really count you looking cute as the kind of update I need at the holidays, it seems self-centered and not the kind of statement that builds a connection.
posted by crabintheocean at 5:09 AM on November 26, 2012 [55 favorites]


I think it's a little unusual (and yeah, a little vain) to have a holiday card with many photos of the adults in the family on it, but I don't know that I would consider it embarrassing. I might consider it overkill if I were also your friend on Facebook and saw all those pictures the first time around. If you were to redesign it, I might suggest that you use fewer photos and pick some that are more representative of your past year-- did you guys travel at all, did you decorate a specific way for a holiday and get a really nice photo of your house, a funny photo or two-- especially if the photos weren't ones already posted on social media of some sort.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:11 AM on November 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


You can't will yourself to feel embarrassed. There isn't a reason to feel embarrassed.

People have different ideas about posting pictures of themselves. I wouldn't send several shots of me "looking good throughout the year" but that's me. I probably wouldn't even send a collage of my kids. For me, it's not about vanity. I just know (or think) that a lot of people get bored seeing pictures of the same adult (or kid) multiple times.
posted by Fairchild at 5:12 AM on November 26, 2012


A card like the one you describe would be fine for close friends and close relatives that you don't see very often anymore. But I'll admit that a gallery of flattering photos of people I don't know very well could be a little weird. With little kids it's a little different since they will look significantly different since the last time the recipient has see them, and a collage can show their growth over the year trough various milestones. With adults, we basically already know what the people in our lives look like, barring some unusually dramatic change.

People can be really judgy about this sort of thing, unfortunately. You sister probably made the right call. :(
posted by Narrative Priorities at 5:12 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


And to be really specific, it's the pictures that aren't "activity" or group pictures that push it over the edge for me. If they were all vacation shots or from a family reunion, I might think it was a little bit much, but I'd probably smile too because it would make me think you had a good year, and as your friend I would like that. Pictures of you alone doing nothing in particular just tells me you look good (and you know it), and I'm not sure why that's relevant to me.
posted by crabintheocean at 5:13 AM on November 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


Your example actually isn't that similar and the reason is because there are kids on that. The rules about what's good for a holiday card completely changes when kids are involved because folks want to see kids. They're adorable.

Your mom loved your card because she loves you - she loves seeing pictures of you because you'll always be her kid. Your husband is right that folks like to send pictures of themselves looking great as well.

But I'm 100% behind your sister (though if she left you crying in tears...well...I don't support that act - there are better ways to handle that situation). Who really wants a ton of pictures of grown ups? One will do. What is more interesting (imo) is a photo collage that takes the place of the Christmas letter. It tells a story of your year: what fun you had, where you went, how exciting your life is. It shouldn't just be a picture of you looking good. That's what facebook and bad self-fashion blogs are for. Your holiday card shouldn't just be an extension of what you would do on facebook or twitter. Why? Because it's the freakin' holidays. The Holidays aren't entirely about you in the way facebook and instagram are. They're about the story you tell and the people who are receiving your card. It is about connections, relationships, and actually believing that the card you are sending reinforces a bond that includes the other person. There's no need to sell yourself to these people. There's a need to reconnect with these people. Focus on that, and you'd get a card that people won't just leave in a pile on their desk, and, instead, it would be hung on their fridge.
posted by Stynxno at 5:14 AM on November 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


Do you receive holiday cards from your friends consisting of pretty pictures of them? (not their kids; them).
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:14 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


One photo of you and your husband together would be enough. Maybe if you guys did something notable, like went to Hawaii or something, it would make sense to have more photos, but, really, a whole bunch of photos is just not necessary.

Your mom's job is to be a mom, which means sometimes supporting you when you do goofy things. She doesn't have an objective opinion.

Your husband's job is to be a husband, which means to support you when you do goofy things. Either he doesn't have an objective opinion, or is choosing his battles.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:18 AM on November 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


For what it's worth, if I got a card like that from one of my friends I would definitely roll my eyes. After all, I know what they look like, and pictures of you looking pretty are what YOU like to look at. I don't care. I love pictures of my friends, but I like ones that 1) make me laugh, or at least look cool (doing an activity, or at an awesome place) or 2) have me in them and represent a shared memory.

You standing and looking pretty? Meh. Not interested. But that's just my opinion and I do secretly judge people for posting lots of pretty pictures of themselves on facebook too. Do what makes you happy though, it's not a big huge embarassing thing.
posted by stillnocturnal at 5:19 AM on November 26, 2012 [28 favorites]


If I received a card with more than a single picture of my adult friends, I would raise my eyebrows at it. Charitably, I might think it was odd to receive.
posted by ellF at 5:20 AM on November 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


How long have you been married? If you are just married, it's kind of like kids - totally okay to send a card full of pictures of you together, being married and awesome and "whee! yay, marriage!" If you've been married for ten years, not so much.

Photos singly of you and your husband, not as appropriate. You are a couple/family: the only solo pictures should be of your kids/dogs/cats or what have you if you acquire them.
posted by corb at 5:21 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


When I see my friends post pretty pictures on social media websites, it makes me feel happy and I love to leave compliments for them in the comments.

That is not the universal reaction to hawt amirite? Instagrams &c. Which probably has a fair bit to do with your card idea, reactions to it, various confusions stemming from same.

If I received a card like you have described from a friend I would find it very odd and probably assume a certain flavour of insecurity on the part of the sender. Also a bit of clueless; "here I am looking nice" is not even tangentially related to sending along one's best wishes for the season. (Also agreeing that photos of children are a different deal. I would have supported a photo of grown-ups only if the grown-ups had had a Christmassy photo taken just for the card.)
posted by kmennie at 5:21 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


A card with 1-2 pictures of you looking great and happy suggests that you look that fabulous every day and you are enjoying your life. A card with 17 posed pictures suggests that you had exactly 17 moments of attractiveness over the year and you have carefully noted and curated them all. I am positive you had more than 17, but it's better to let them wonder! :)

Your sister was wrong to make you cry.

I once went to a birthday party where the guy invited a lifetime of family and friends and showed a continuous slideshow of past pictures of himself! In a few instances, he'd even cut other people out of the pics -- people who years later happened to be at the party, watching the slideshow! Everyone gossiped about his vanity. It was not cool. Don't be that guy.
posted by mochapickle at 5:23 AM on November 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


First of all, do whatever the heck you want. If you like the collage, send it out!

However, since you are asking for advice, in my mind sending one picture of you and your husband is perfectly fine and classy. Every additional picture should have a good reason for it, preferably beyond you looking pretty. It is totally possible to do a review of the year in pictures, but there needs to be context in the pictures for people to know what they are looking at.

I've gotten cards from friends that travel a lot, and it had pictures of them in all different places around the world. That's cool!

I've gotten cards from people who don't have kids, but they send pictures of their dogs instead. Frankly, I'd rather have pictures of them.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 5:24 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


FWIW, I can't imagine being in a headspace where I'd receive a holiday card or letter from a friend as you describe and somehow getting judgmental about it. I mean it's a letter with xeroxed photos on it FFS, you read it, say "oh that's nice," look at the pictures and toss it.

Apparently I'm in a minority though? Very strange.
posted by kavasa at 5:27 AM on November 26, 2012 [14 favorites]


Huh, I asked an almost identical question five years ago, and the consensus was different than what I'm seeing here. I ended up sending out a photo collage of the year, and if there was any negative thoughts on it, I never heard them. I still love that card.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:33 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


My sister wasn't trying to be mean though, she was just giving me her honest opinion.

It sounds like your sister was doing her job. It's unfortunate that you felt hurt and I hope that has passed, but I give you a lot of credit for recognizing that (at least it sounds like) she wasn't trying to be mean, she was just trying to be your sister. I think it takes character to recognize that, and it's an indication of a good sibling relationship.

I agree with your sister and the general tenor of this thread about the card. And of course you are right, there's no absolute right/wrong. But photos of your children is not the same thing as photos of yourself, and posting photos on social media throughout the year is not the same thing as sending out Christmas cards.

Happy holidays to you and your family.
posted by cribcage at 5:35 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


She says it would be less embarassing if we were including pretty pictures of ours kids (we don't have any) or something. That because it's just of us, it seems more vain.

Your sister's argument, if I understand correctly, is that because the card just contains you and your husband, it is "too vain" and thus "embarrassing", right? Your sister is wrong. "Convention" is that a couple with no children or adult children that sends out a custom Christmas card with a picture of themselves, the couple. (if you're particularly ambitious, it will be a picture of the couple on some fabulous vacation they took over the past year. Strangely, "convention" seems to dictate that a couple with kids sends a self-made card of just the kids, not the couple. I don't quite understand this.)

Now I will say that the "collage" might read as "tacky" to some people, as if you're showcasing your scrap-booking hobby to the world, but if your audience isn't that judgmental, this will probably be fine. My only caveat is that collage is an art-form, and doing art well can be tricky, in the same way that writing your own poem for a Christmas card would be very risky.
posted by deanc at 5:36 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


However do note that in the card that ThePinkSuperhero references from five years ago, one of the earliest comments includes:
If they're you somewhere interesting, fine. Choose the ones which best illustrate your year, not just ones you look good in.
which I do agree with. As mentioned above, telling the story of your year in photos might be kind of cute. Not just pics that would substitute in for your facebook profile pic.
posted by gaspode at 5:40 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


ThePinkSuperhero: Huh, I asked an almost identical question five years ago, and the consensus was different than what I'm seeing here. I ended up sending out a photo collage of the year, and if there was any negative thoughts on it, I never heard them. I still love that card.

I think the difference is your description of your card had you doing fun things (wearing costumes, going on vacation, with your dog, etc). The OP is talking about a card which contains multiple pictures of her by herself not doing anything (well, besides looking pretty). Look OP, I think it's unusual to send out such a card but not embarrassing. Do what makes you happy. I do think some people will feel as your sister does, though I think the judgment will be fleeting and instantly forgotten (or thrown away). Christmas cards are not the same as Instagram or Facebook where some amount of self-gaze is expected -- but who cares?. If you really want to be more "appealing" maybe replace the 3 pics of you by yourself with you doing something - on vacation, with other family members (maybe besides your husband) and friends, of a fun party you hosted, etc.
posted by bluefly at 5:42 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I say send it, and this is why:

1. You like it.
2. your husband likes it.
3. A lot of the people who recieve the card will like it as well.
4. Of the people who recieve the card and think it is cheesy/embarassing, they are probably the same people who think most/all cards are cheesy, so you're never going to win with them.


For the record, I am someone who finds all cards - Christmas and otherwise - cheesy and they are totally wasted on me. If I recieved a card like the one you are describing I wouldn't find it any more cheesy than any of the other cards.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:42 AM on November 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


More important to know how old your sister is, really. People have to learn not to be embarrassed for others, and it takes time and experience to get that settled. You can perhaps help her there, kindly, that is. In any case, it doesn't need to be you who's in tears.
posted by Namlit at 5:49 AM on November 26, 2012


Oh my god, seriously? What the hell is wrong with people who are shittily judgmental about how you choose to celebrate the holidays? Send out the cards to the rest of your family and friends and be happy. Your sister can have an impersonal store-bought card if she's so weirdly ashamed of you.
posted by elizardbits at 5:53 AM on November 26, 2012 [19 favorites]


She says it would be less embarassing if we were including pretty pictures of ours kids (we don't have any) or something. That because it's just of us, it seems more vain.

This is yet another way that society judges and shames the childless. I know that sounds a little wacky, but I firmly believe that it's true.

That being said, I'd really like a holiday card like this with pictures of the places you went and the people you met, and less of you, and I might judge it a little if it was like "oh look, 13 pictures of Stacy with her hair all done, that's... nice." But all told? Your sister can go jump in a lake. It's your holiday card and everyone else can bite it. Go nuts!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:54 AM on November 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


A card like the one you describe would be fine for close friends and close relatives that you don't see very often anymore. But I'll admit that a gallery of flattering photos of people I don't know very well could be a little weird. With little kids it's a little different since they will look significantly different since the last time the recipient has see them, and a collage can show their growth over the year trough various milestones. With adults, we basically already know what the people in our lives look like, barring some unusually dramatic change.

I agree with this.

I would also say that I would (to my own discredit, I guess) respond differently to receiving a card like this depending on the personality of the people sending it out. If the senders are generally down to earth people, I wouldn't think twice about it. If the senders were vain people, I would roll my eyes pretty hard.

But mostly, yes, this card sounds fine for family and friends. As long as the overriding message is wishing them good holiday wishes, and not "look at me!!"
posted by gjc at 5:54 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah this is sort of the visual equivalent of the family holiday newsletter that is filled with news of nothing but expensive vacations, Ivy league college acceptances, luxury car purchases, and pageant wins.
posted by whoaali at 6:05 AM on November 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


I want to see pictures of children (because they change from year to year as they grow) and pictures of pets (because quite honestly I like dogs way more than kids). I would like to see a picture of you on vacation doing something fun/interesting/cool. A holiday picture would also be fine. If you were my friend, I would think you were weird if your holiday card consisted of a bunch of pics of you just standing there looking pretty. If you're my friend, we're not friends because you're pretty and "hey look, I'm pretty" does come off as vain to me.
posted by crankylex at 6:06 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


FWIW, the pleasure I take in receiving a card is based on who it is from and how much I enjoy their relationship. I will accept pretty much any kind of card from my best friends with uncriticial happiness and can find something to ridicule in cards from people who don't mean much to me and/or do things (outside the card thing) that have made me feel badly. [but then again, I generally would rather spend time smiling about the cards from good friends than poo-pooing people I don't really care about]. In sum, the card doesn't really matter that much...
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:08 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm somewhat surprised by the general reaction to this card, because I would love to get a card like this from my childless friends. The comments prove that your sister was right about it, I suppose, but it seems odd to me. I love to see pictures of my friends on Facebook. In fact, I think it is the best feature of Facebook. Perhaps this is because none of my friends are supermodels, but when I see a particularly flattering picture of one of them, I think "Wow, what a great picture of Suzie!"
posted by Lame_username at 6:09 AM on November 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't mean to be hurtful, but whenever I get those kinds of cards I roll my eyes. It's pretty vain.

Your sister should have been nicer about what she said.
posted by discopolo at 6:11 AM on November 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Of the people who recieve the card and think it is cheesy/embarassing, they are probably the same people who think most/all cards are cheesy, so you're never going to win with them.

Data point: I think a collage christmas card of generic-but-pretty pictures of an adult would be cheesy, but I love getting christmas cards with one good picture.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:14 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you are strictly looking for opinions, count me as a "I wouldn't send that card." I would LOVE to see a few pictures of my friends doing things (as well as looking gorgeous), but 17 pictures of yer face doing nothin' but looking good... what is the purpose of that, except to show off?

I think a lot of people here are being unfair to you in both positive and negative ways. You can send pictures of yourselves to your friends and family, but unless you want some people to think "huh... wow...weird," I would limit it to a handful and make them (couple) pictures from vacations or silly things like Halloween.

When I see someone taking the same picture over and over again on Facebook for no reason, I honestly tend to just pity them. Is that all they think about, taking the same photo of them selves everywhere they go, with no identifiable meaning re: place or occasion? Get a life, geez!
posted by two lights above the sea at 6:19 AM on November 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


I think the reactions here are testament to the range of variability in how this type of card could be perceived by others. It's potentially contentious by design, which is fine for recipients who have a lot of in-group knowledge to interpret the context appropriately. Less so for those who need to fill in the rest. If you want to play it safer, I would use less pictures featuring you and your life, more words featuring them and theirs.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:21 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing, context matters, in terms of how people view you.

Say you're known as a kind hearted person who works hard, spends a lot of time volunteering and is known for being fashionable. Then the card you describe makes total sense for you and will probably be seen as just another sign of you being vivacious.

However, if you're known for being vain and petty, then yeah, the card makes you look bad. Think of the fuller picture, not just this one situation and decide from there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:23 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Personally I would wonder what it had to do with Christmas. If it was a flattering picture of the two of you wearing Santa hats or something that might seem a bit more suitable.
posted by KateViolet at 6:24 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Christmas Bulletin format - of which these photos sound like an equivalent - is inherently somewhat vainglorious even though it usually isn't meant that way.

Combine that with a preponderance of photos of yourself, even though there are other people/things to report, could come across as far more vain than you intend. Sending out a lot of pictures of yourself implies that you think the recipient must really like to look at you! A lot! And maybe they do. (I'm not surprised your mother and husband love to look at you a lot, for example.) And maybe you don't have that attitude at all. But that's what you'd be implying, regardless of what was actually going on inside your head.

It would come across much less like this if you and your husband had equal time, and if a number of the photos were of the scenery without you in them.

If your sister is embarrassed on your behalf, that is also somewhat vain, and she should have put her critique more kindly. I'd ask yourself whether your sister has any reason to be upset about something that she could be expressing through this.
posted by tel3path at 6:24 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


One picture of you and your husband together would be fine. A gallery of photos seems quite odd.
posted by spaltavian at 6:27 AM on November 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


One picture that exemplifies how awesome the two of you are? Excellent. Multiple pictures of you in a collage format? Strikes me as desperate and attention seeking. I'd argue that most newsletter or pictures-of-our-family cards are attention seeking, personally.

Keep it simple and understated. If people want to see more photos, they'll ask.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:34 AM on November 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Personally, I find even the kids photos kind of on the edge of taste; if it's a snapshot where they're really being themselves, or trying to be good but not quite achieving it, then it's nice because it shows their personality and is a good way of connecting. However, the photos where the kids are dressed nicely and posed, or the example where everything is cropped, photoshopped, and designed, just seem fake.

We actually sent out a photo postcard of the two of us and our cat. We looked ridiculous. Still not sure if it was well-received.

For an image, use something that communicates something about your personality, your life experience, how you're feeling. Don't over-polish it. It's a friendly wave, not a minuet :)
posted by amtho at 6:38 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Part of your family said go for it. Part of your family said don't. Part of this thread says go for it. Part of this thread says don't. You won't get a consensus anywhere, so just do what feels right to you. You have to decide for yourself and do things out of joy and a sense of fun and excitement over the holidays, instead of worrying about other people's reactions.

If you send the card, then at best you will make a few people smile, and at worst you won't. There just isn't a lot at stake here.
posted by headnsouth at 6:42 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


(I should state that I quite enjoy silly pictures of couples with their pets, but that's because I'm the sort who would send out a picture of myself and my husband with our dog as a sort of tongue-in-cheek family holiday card. Because LULZ! This sort of thing is 100% hilarious and fun in my book.)
posted by two lights above the sea at 6:43 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think 17 pictures of you and your husband is overmuch. But if you like it, who cares what anyone else thinks?

I exchange cards with a whole host of people during the holidays. We send a lovely Season's Greetings card with a picture of our cats (I used the I Can Haz Cheezburger site to make them LOL Cats.) My sister takes a picture of her and her dog. My friends and family usually include a recent photo (one) of the kids.

I have friends who send letters and my sister and I get on the phone and make fun of them. Either the letters are self-congratulatory in the extreme:

We bought a new summer home in Gstaad, Reese has been accepted at Harvard and Yale, whatever will she decide, Molly placed first at Westminster...blah, blah, blah.

Or kind of scary:

We lost granddad in May after a long bout of a horrifying illness, Lisa, our 14-year old will be making us grandparents next spring, Bob moved out with his secretary and harrasses me by having anchovy pizzas delivered.

My thought is, if you have these pictures hanging around, I'm pretty sure they're all over Facebook/Twitter. Do you really need to make a collage? What do you expect will happen to it? Do you think your friends will put it on the fridge? Or do you expect it to be thrown away after the holiday cards come down?

But no matter, if it makes you happy, and you don't care if your friends will make fun of you either behind your back or to your face, then go for it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:45 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had someone send me a Christmas card with photos of her family a few years ago, and mostly I thought "Dude, we're Facebook friends. I have seen these photos of you on Facebook. Why would I need a hard copy?"

I didn't considering it embarrassing, just a waste of time, and the photos ended up in the garbage eventually. I'm not into saving clutter.
posted by Dynex at 6:47 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


You're fine. It sounds innocuous.
posted by starman at 6:56 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with your sister. Photos of kids in holiday cards are ok because kids have changed a lot since the last holiday card was sent and it's nice to show your friends/family how they've changed. Plus, our society gives a free vanity-photo pass for kids. Photos of adults in holiday cards are just weird and a little vain...I already know what you look like year after year. Include a nice message instead - mention (briefly!) what's new in your lives and wish the recipient well.
posted by whitelily at 7:00 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


My brother sends out w collage card featuring him and his cat along with snaps of him with celebrities at fan conventions. But there's usually only 5 or 6 pictures. 17 seems like a lot.

But what do I know, my card last year featured our family naked in front of an ice-filled lake.
posted by vespabelle at 7:26 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I personally wouldn't send it. But from your description it sounds like they're nice photos! Maybe you can arrange them chronologically and upload them to facebook as a "[Husband] and I in 2012" album? The descriptions can add more context, like for the ones of you looking nice before an event - mention the event, and how great it was to see X's graduation or how much you loved seeing Y play your favorite song at that concert.
posted by troika at 7:29 AM on November 26, 2012


I think the problem people are having with the card is that you have 17 pictures on it. That's a lot. Maybe just cut it down to a half-dozen?
posted by cooker girl at 7:31 AM on November 26, 2012


You've anonymized yourself for good reason. Your card is actively portraying you in an odd light, at least.
posted by Kruger5 at 7:40 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm in the same demographic as you, and I receive adult holiday cards every year. Your little sister is probably sooooo embarrassed by everything you do because OMG she's waaaay cooler and knows everything! She'll hopefully outgrow that shit soon, and in the meantime, send those cards out! I want all of my friends to send me cute photo cards, kids or not. It's one of my favorite parts of the holiday season.
posted by katypickle at 7:43 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


On the one hand, I'm one of those people who snark at the grammar in Christmas form letters and roll my eyes at professionally-posed photos where all the family members are wearing matching holiday sweaters. So yeah, I'd probably find a card like this silly.

On the other hand, people like me are assholes and often secretly jealous and you really shouldn't listen to us.

Speaking from a purely aesthetic standpoint, seventeen sounds like a lot of photos for one dinky card, even if it's an extra long card. I don't think it works in the card you linked, and those photos were all from the same shoot. If your photos are a mishmash of you two looking pretty without any identifiable theme, it runs the risk of looking cluttered and amateurish. And what's the point of including photos of you looking pretty if they're just going to be shrunk down to a square inch? I'd cut the number of photos in half and make sure they're photos that represent interesting stories. A card like this can be pulled off, but you have to be careful.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:45 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


It sounds fine to me. I see multiple pictures of people constantly due to social media, and I'm not sure what's different about seeing it in card form. At most I'd think, "hmm, nice," and put it on my fridge or wherever else I'm putting holiday cards this year.

We have this sort of over focus on kids that's a little exhausting at times. Two adults can certainly be a family, and if you want to show many pics of your family that's fine.
posted by sweetkid at 7:48 AM on November 26, 2012


Not embarrassing at all. Your sister should get a life.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:53 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's not a Christmas card. It's a portfolio.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 7:53 AM on November 26, 2012 [17 favorites]


When you spoke to your sister, did she volunteer her thoughts on the card spontaneously, or had you sent the card and asked her opinion (explicitly -- "what do you think" -- or implicitly -- "here's the draft of our card")?

If you asked for the feedback, you should have been prepared to hear she doesn't like it. Don't ask for feedback if you don't actually want it, that's disingenuous. Her feedback is just her opinion, and you can choose to disregard it, that's always an option, but if you cried because of the feedback, I'd question whether you really wanted it.

Incidentally, unless you and your sister have a bad relationship, you might consider that her feedback -- useful or not -- comes from an honest place of caring. If you don't trust that, then you probably shouldn't ask for her opinion any more.

Of course, if she was being overly harsh, or if you hadn't asked for her feedback, then she should probably apologize.
posted by davejay at 8:01 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I came here to say that the holidays are the time for cheesy awesomeness (think ugly sweater contests). But multiple pics of you just bc you think you look good (instead of "here's me doing X", "here's me visiting Y place", "here's me chilling with grandma") are a bit much & make you seem vain.
If those pics were conveying a story, like a "yearly newletter" of sorts, then go for it.

I totally agree that the pics of kids comment is completely out of line.

You know what, screw it, do whatever you want. Yes, it's a little weird, but we all got our quirks. So what? Go for it.
posted by Neekee at 8:01 AM on November 26, 2012


Wow, I am so surprised by these responses. I think your sister was totally out of line - why does she even care what you do? It doesn't reflect on her at all.

If I got your card, I'd think, aw, this is cute! I'd be happy to get it, I wouldn't think it was weird at all. Then I'd toss it / recycle it, and never think about it again.

In terms of what I would personally send, I might include a snapshot or two in a handwritten holiday card. I probably wouldn't send a collage or a non-personalized letter (though lots of people do).

But I love the idea of making a collage of photos of me and my fiancee, just for us, and not to send - just for us to have, to look at, maybe put on the fridge or whatever. That would be fun.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:02 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


If sending holiday photo cards is silly for a childless couple, then I've been Queen Doof of Christmas ever since we got married. But I've never had anyone tell me so, so I must run in a large, silly crowd.

I agree that I think what people might find questionable is just the number of photos. I tend to stick to just a couple photos of us that shows what we did this year. This year, I made an exception and did a three photo/small write up card because we did an exceptional amount of travelling around the world. I picked one photo from each trip, usually us in front of an exciting location. I think you could even get away with the "glammed up for something special" photos as long as they were a memorable, specific landmark of your year--a special event or milestone--and not just a nice date night out.

That said, it's your family, your holidays, people who really care about you won't give a flying elf and just be happy you thought of them. Do what makes you warm and fuzzy inside. :)
posted by ninjakins at 8:05 AM on November 26, 2012


one more thing: I had an acquaintance who is tone deaf about a lot of things, and one of them is photos. Her son was bitten in the face by one of their dogs, and while at the hospital her husband took a picture of them. Her son still had a face covered in blood, and looked absolutely miserable...and his mother was holding him at arm's length, turned towards the camera with her version of a winning smile, looking very much like she cared more about posing for the camera than about caring for her son. It was embarrassing for all concerned, a subject of uncomfortable conversation amongst the larger group, and (sadly) typical of her attitude towards such things. Pictures sometimes say something different from what is intended, and your sister may be seeing something in the specific photo choices that you're tone deaf to. Give that some thought.
posted by davejay at 8:06 AM on November 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sending out a card of any sort with a photo of yourself, your whole family, your kid(s), your pet(s), etc. is "vain" in the sense that you're saying, "Look at me/us/my kid!" instead of "Here is a holiday-themed stock greeting card." It's socially acceptable to send a card with a bunch of photos of your kid(s), less so to send a card with a bunch of photos of yourself and your spouse if you are childless. This doesn't mean that it's actually more vain to send photos of yourself than of your kids--and I think it can vary, person to person, whether any of these cards truly reflect an unhealthy level of vanity.

Personally, I find the "collage of my kid(s) being cute" cards sort of boring. But, whatever, my friends and family are proud of their cute kids, so let them send the Christmas cards! It doesn't harm me to see the card.

I have an aunt who does a lot of travel, and I enjoy getting her holiday cards/letters, because she always includes photos from her trips throughout the year. One of the things I appreciate is that she'll often have a photo or two in which she looks kind of goofy but the location is awesome. I like these cards because I'm genuinely interested in knowing how her year has been. I wouldn't be offended if she sent a card with nothing but photos of herself looking fabulous, but it'd be less interesting. You might consider whether this approach of using photos from big events/trips throughout the year could work for you.

I've also received cards from childless couples that just feature a nice photo of the two of them, or from friends with kids that just feature one family portrait, and I like those. I have relatives who dress up in some themed set of family costumes every year, which I find sort of weird, but again: whatever, it's their Christmas card.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:12 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I made a holiday card for myself and my husband.

To me, this jumps out as maybe being the core issue: holiday cards are for the people who are receiving them, or to be really specific, for the connection you share with them. Every aspect of this card sounds like it's for you, rather than to spread good cheer or whatever to the recipients. It would be different if it was one funny photo or something super-significant the other person might want as a printed photograph or something that's normal to display in one's home (this is where the kids come in), but it's hard to imagine what anyone (other than your mother or husband) is going to do with this card, other than maybe hide it behind some more seasonal ones for a few weeks.

At the same time, everyone's right who's saying you can do what you want, of course, and that maybe there are other things you could do like making this awesome collage for yourselves.
posted by carbide at 8:12 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, it is pretty vain to send people a collage of yourself under the guise of wishing them happy holidays. In my opinion, it's equally vain when people do it with their kids, but that's more socially acceptable so most others wouldn't think so. Just one picture of you and your husband would be fine.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 8:24 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


it's hard to imagine what anyone (other than your mother or husband) is going to do with this card

What does anyone do with any holiday card? I'm perfectly serious. Unless someone sends out a card that is a true work of art, the reaction to any card, whether custom-printed or not, is pretty much going to fall into one of two categories.

If the recipient likes the card sender: "Aww, it's nice they thought of us!" and then toss it, stick it on the fridge for a month or two, or save it in a giant box of every holiday card they've ever received (depending on their level of sentimentality and tolerance of clutter).

If the recipient doesn't like the card sender: "She thinks she's so great, always sending holiday cards on time..." or "Ugh, why does she even think we're still friends?" and toss it.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:27 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a general maximum, I think you can have one or two group shots, and then one close-up photo of each person (even families with kids. Pets also allowed closeups but if you have kids then all the pets have to be in one photo together or it gets to be too much.). If you get too many more than that it's too much. 17 is way too many, I wouldn't really look at the pictures because it's so many.

A collage of photos telling the story of the high points of your year is fine, that's different and can be cute (but often it's just too many pictures so I just glance). But a bunch of photos of you dressed up to go out, just looking pretty? That's like mailing people your prom photos. It's a little strange. I mean, it's not hurting anybody, do it if it makes you happy, but it's a little strange.

Imagine other people putting the cards they get up on a bulletin board. Other people aren't really looking for a collage of YOU; the sum total of the photo cards they get is a collage of ALL their friends. Pick the one photo of the two of you where you look great and happy that will stand out from among the other cards, rather than 17 tiny pictures that nobody will look at because they're swallowed up by being too cluttered.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:29 AM on November 26, 2012


Like everyone else, I think 17 is way too much, unless you are doing cheesy funny photos that will make me smile. Some of my friends are in Australia, and I love looking at their recent photos where he's in a pastel pink wet suit and she's in a pastel blue wet suit and the picture comes with a caption: " TELETUBBIES!"

Facebook and Instagram are very different because they are free. You are paying to have it printed (even if it's just to buy the nice paper to print at home) and posted. Also, I can easily block photos online of people I don't want to see. But you sending out a card is much more 'in your face.'

Lastly, children get a free pass because they change. It's still eye roll inducing but you know it won't last forever.
posted by ethidda at 8:37 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some people will think this is weird, as evidenced by your sister's reaction. But most of those people will do little more than think 'Huh, pictures of anonymous and husband, weird' and then move on.

Personally, I have little to know interest in pictures of people's children unless I know or am related to those kids. But pictures of my friends are always welcome -- it's one of the main reasons I'm on Facebook.

I'd be happy to receive the card you describe.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:40 AM on November 26, 2012


tl;dr but count me among those that find these harsh judgments baffling (but then, I don't have kids). I'd be delighted to receive such an illustrative Christmas card. I might actually find it more interesting than the annual listings of their children's accomplishments, which I receive from friends with kids.
posted by Rash at 8:54 AM on November 26, 2012


I certainly wouldn't judge you for sending the card (because really, who has time to do detailed critical assessments of Christmas correspondence?!), but it does seem a little odd.

I guess I tend to think of holiday cards as social + informational-- you're renewing the connection by sending good wishes, and deepening it by adding a little blast of "here's what's up with us!". Which means the visual messages you send are subject to the same rules of decorum as information you share in conversation-- oversharing is still weird, bragging is still weird, irrelevancies are still weird. Pictures of kids are OK in moderation because that's informational (look how much Susie has grown this year! And now she can ride a bike all by herself!) Ditto the single picture of you and your husband (best wishes from us to you! Here's what we look like now!) as well as pictures of you and/or your husband doing particular activities or in particular situations (here's what we're into now! Here's where we've been up to! Here's our new pet!).

OTOH, if you're sending out many, many redundant pictures of any single person just looking attractive, then it's hard to say what the message is, beyond I'm beautiful! (or maybe just, I can't self-edit!). And that, as your sister points out, is a little socially weird-- whether it's a grownup or a five-year-old, I think. Not the content, but the message.
posted by Bardolph at 9:29 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


But... but... but... ALL Christmas cards are temples to our own vanity!! Even the snarky flippant ones that make fun of the tradition are in a way saying "Look at me!! I'm so special! I'm above this whole thing and yet taking part in it! I am the Hipster of Christmas Past/Present/Future and I'm soooo edgy and ironic!"

But we all adhere to a social compact that sort of forbids us from saying anything about how tacky, self-aggrandizing, ridiculous, inane, saccharine, or otherwise annoying people's holiday greetings are. So your sister is really at fault here for pointing out the obvious to you, because that's just mean.

The only acceptable response to hearing someone's "Grand Holiday Plans For Celebration and Spreading Cheer" is to nod politely and say, "I'm sure that's lovely. I can't wait to get mine."
posted by jph at 10:00 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


The way I see it is this: I love seeing photos of my friends (and - to an extent - of their handiwork, artwork, kids & pets) on social media, and I post my photos there. I see no reason to send more than one "special" photo at the holidays because most of my friends & family have already seen all the good ones. If you don't post many photos on social media, or if you have friends/family who are not connected to you on social media, I say go for it. If you've already shared these photos on social media and your friends/family have already seen them, it just seems a bit redundant - not vain, but overkill.

And... personally, I find that people who accuse others of vanity are expressing envy of others' positive self image. Of course you want people to see pretty pictures of yourself and handsome pictures of your husband. For the same reason people send photos of their kids/pets/activities. And no, not everyone looks at pictures of kids and thinks, "KIDS! HOORAY!" Some people just see another photo of something someone is proud of and showing off. Which isn't a bad thing. If I love someone, I love seeing them expressing pride in something. They deserve to, and they should. I love them, and they should love themselves too.

Phooey on the Grinch.
posted by pammeke at 10:22 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I got this card I wouldn't think twice about it. I'd probably notice that you looked good and didn't seem to have any kids yet, then I'd put it on top of the fridge with the rest of the cards. But I'm largely clueless about the norms surrounding these things and like to think that I'm generally pretty charitable in my assumptions about peoples intentions. So, in that respect, I agree with the people here saying "rock on with your bad self" and telling you not to worry about what your sister says.

On the other hand, there are plenty of people here making it quite clear that they would think poorly of you, even if only for a moment, for breaking the unspoken norms in this way (not meant to be a criticism of those answerers, btw). So, in that respect, you should thank your sister for pointing that possible reaction out to you.
posted by 256 at 10:37 AM on November 26, 2012


Pictures sometimes say something different from what is intended, and your sister may be seeing something in the specific photo choices that you're tone deaf to. Give that some thought

This is an extremely important point. I don't think any of us have a way to judge your sister's specific judgment about the card. It sounded like your sister was concerned not just about the general fact that you included a lot of photos, but also about the specific facts about those photos. Like, posture, facial expression, circumstances, etc. In other words, your sister's point might not be, "This many photos is a problem" but instead "This photo, and this one, and this other one, in this context, are a problem." We can't comment on that.
posted by meese at 11:10 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Honestly, if we got the card you're describing, my partner and I would probably snark to each other about it because it does sound rather self-indulgent ... but then again, we also snark a bit on people who post lots of "look at me!"-style pictures on Facebook (and of course I'm sure there are plenty of people who smirk at our FB postings, too). So maybe the type of people who would roll their eyes at your card are already rolling their eyes anyway: snarkers gonna snark.

For better or worse, however, I doubt it will significantly change their opinion of you one way or the other, so if you're not embarrassed by the card, what the hey, go ahead and send it out. You'll get the enjoyment of showing folks your you, your kinder-hearted friends will take pleasure from seeing pictures of your you, and your friends who are Terrible People will enjoy a bit of private snarking but will probably still think the same of you as they currently do, so no harm done and everyone gets something!
posted by DingoMutt at 11:19 AM on November 26, 2012


Haha! The old "here's some pictures of OUR family" christmas card!
I thought my crazy family was the only one who did that.
I think it's incredibly weird and awkward to get one of those things, like why is a random picture of you in different poses a good gift for me? It's just weird. I just think..."um...you exist? Thanks for letting me know *in pictures!* that you're still alive, I guess?" But my family seems to love it.
My mom says: "It depends on whether you grew up with them in your family. If we had taken family portraits and sent them as christmas cards, you wouldn't think it was weird at all!"
To each his own, I guess...
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 11:28 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm a total outlier here but wow, your holiday card sounds fun and pretty standard--not the least bit embarrassing--and I would be happy to receive it if I were a friend of yours.

Most of my friends don't have kids so maybe I'm just used to getting cards that show my friends either doing some kind of activity or playfully mugging/looking good for the camera (dressed up, dressed down, whatever), or playing with their pets or hanging with their friends or (adult) family members. Like, isn't the whole point of the generic holiday newsletter to show a bunch of cheezy photos and give folks an update on what you've done during the year?

I realize that it's different strokes and all, but it wouldn't have even occurred to me to find random pictures of my friends like the ones you've described to be embarrassing or objectionable. It feels like a whole heap of projection to me. And I say this as a person who has a massive second-hand embarrassment squick.
posted by skye.dancer at 12:06 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Her first point I tend to agree with - I would find it odd to get a collage of what amounts to glamor shots from a friend or family member.

her second point I disagree with - kids do get a pass, but I would think a collage of nondescript baby pictures would be weird too.

This is all incredibly subjective however and you really should just do what you want in the end because their just holiday cards in the end.
posted by Julnyes at 12:38 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's just a card, not an oil painting. I'd much rather look at photos of my dear friend than some mass-produced cartoon of Santa. And you are obviously thinking of them and wishing them well or you wouldn't be sending them a card.

(Side note: I also think 17 photos is too many, but only because they'd be too small to see properly.)
posted by superfish at 12:41 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think you should send it, especially if you've spent money and/or a lot of time on the project. If possible, maybe take people's advice above to remove the non-notable-activity shots but if that's not doable at this point I think you should send it anyway and not stress or feel bad about it at all! Your sister gave you her two cents, as we are here, because you asked directly. With anybody else receiving the card it's going to fall into the "nobody cares how you look/act as much as you think they do" advice. Some may not like the card so much but it's not like they'll be appalled or think less of you.

My circle of friends and family don't do the personalized Xmas cards thing at all - if I even got one with a picture of parents and kids it would be very odd to me. But it would be very unlikely that I would think that for more than the few seconds it took me to add it to the display with other Xmas cards I've received, and given that so many of my friends don't send Xmas cards any more, I would be very happy to receive it!
posted by jamesonandwater at 12:44 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


To me, sending holiday cards is about wishing others well in the upcoming year. It's about the words and sentiment, not the photos on the outside.

But that's just us -- we got married in July and we seriously debated putting a honeymoon pic of us in our bride and groom Mickey ears at Walt Disney World but decided against it because ... who really cares? The people who love us already have nice wedding photos of us. Plus, I already shared it on Facebook.

I get a bunch of photo cards from my friends; some of their kids alone, some with a group photo and some with fashion blog-type photos of themselves. They all get tossed the same day as the regular cards because, again, if those kids/friends are that dear to me, I already have nicer framed photos of them. A group photo is nice. A photo of each person in the family is nice. Seventeen photos is over the top.

It's about your audience. If your friends are the type that love over the top photo cards, send them. So your sister didn't like the card...get her a "for my sister" card, write something lovely in it and send it.
posted by kimberussell at 3:24 PM on November 26, 2012


I'm kind of cranky about Christmas cards with photos on them. My ideal photo card would be one photo of the whole family in some kind of nice casual pose or doing an activity they enjoy or in a place they travelled to. I loathe photos of just kids (like, I'm not friends with your kids) and I hate big collage cards. If I got a card like that I'd definitely be all-wrinkly-nosed, look at it once and throw it in the pile with the rest of them. It would definitely seem weird and vain to me (17 photos of ANYTHING is too much!) that you put so much effort into placing photos of yourself on a card and not so much into any kind of personal sincere greeting. I'd even rather have a generic holiday letter than that kind of card.

Having said that: 1) I once sent out Xmas LOLCat style photo postcards of my cat in a sweater so what the hell do I know? And 2) They're your cards, do what you want. I'm going to throw them all out on Jan 2nd anyway. But yeah, there will definitely be some people who think it's vain. Whether you care about that or not is your call.
posted by marylynn at 3:46 PM on November 26, 2012


If I got a card from a couple and there were twice as many photos of one member of the couple as the other---and it wasn't because that one person had done something extraordinary like climbing K2 or winning a National Book Award---it would make me raise an eyebrow.

Now, sure, I'd forget about it 30 seconds later, but very few people think of "pictures in which I look pretty" as must-includes for a holiday card. I have a few friends who are professional actors and models, and when they've sent holiday cards with photos, it's either from some grand adventure or something funny and offbeat.

So I agree with everyone in the thread who says, "Do what you like, it's your card," and also with everyone in the thread who says, "People are going to have their own responses to your choices here, and they're not all going to be positive".
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:48 PM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I like my friends and family.
I like to see them.
I like getting awesome mail.
I like getting cards from people I like, especially when I get to see their smiling faces.
If there are 17 pictures of the people I like, even better.

Send the card. Don't let the haters get you down. Send the card for people like me who will love to receive it. The truth is, the haters will love to receive it to, after all, being haters is their favorite pastime.
posted by quince at 4:16 PM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


We live in kind of a schizophrenic culture, yes? On one hand, the U.S. is all about individualism, competition, pulling yourself by your bootstraps, imagining the life YOU want to live and then making that happen. On the other hand, Christmas is supposed to be about connecting with others, sharing in the spirit of the holidays, considering the less fortunate, and being grateful for, and humble about, the many blessings you have.

So, I don't think it's entirely surprising that you found yourself in this conundrum, and I feel for you. After all, we live in a culture in which our friends and family reward us (with likes, pokes, messages, and emails) when we post the most banal details of the most mundane part of our lives on Facebook, and where lots of our friends have thousands of highly personal pictures available on flickr and the likes.

And, you know, I think there is nothing wrong with owning your attractiveness, especially since we live in an age where women are made to feel like shit about, well, everything, especially in terms of their bodies.

So, I can see how this would be confusing, and I could see the arguments coming in on both side of this debate. I think each has valid points to make, and I think a lot can be read in this question that reveals much about the complicated, sometimes contradictory, nature of our cultural expectations.

I will say, though, that our culture puts an insane amount of importance on superficial qualities like attractiveness, or on looking like you've got the perfect family (or job, or life, or whatever). And, on one hand, Christmas is just an extension of that, where you have to have the perfect tree, make the perfect dinner, and get the perfect gifts for everyone. On the other hand, though, I think that this holiday is perhaps the one which people view as a respite, especially if they are highly sentimental or religious, because it is the one time where people generally take time off of work, en-masse, and travel to meet with their friends and family. I think people do see it as a relief, where you can use the holiday as an excuse to let your hair down, see people you haven't seen in a while, and just have a good time with them.

A card like this, where so many photos were included solely because you "thought you looked pretty in them," is going to chafe, because it flies in the face of what people really want (or secretly hope for) this holiday to be about. Because it is brings it back to the expectation of perfection in our superficial mundanity, and is not about connecting.

Personally, I would see something like this and would maybe feel a little sad, and would think that you place a very high importance, in your life, on your physical attractiveness (and that of your husband's). I'm all about embracing your hawtness, but really, I think there is way more to us than how sexy we look in photographs, or in general (though sexiness sure can be fun). If I were your friend, I would be more interested in getting a handwritten letter about your new job, or the trip you guys took, or on your new hobby of making macrame turtles, or something. Getting a card like this, especially year after year, would make me wonder whether you only value yourself for your physical appeal, and would make me feel sorry for you (or is that judge you?), though the thought would last only as long as it would take for me to look at the pictures and throw the card in the recycle bin, because I don't think this is something that I would dwell on, either.

I guess: if this is the card you really want to send out, and feel that it tells your year's story, go for it, unapologetically. If you, however, think that your friends are only interested in seeing how good-looking all their friends are(n't) (instead of being more interested in how their friends are actually doing), then I would reconsider either your friendships, or how you view the place of social relationships in our world.

I don't know. Just some thoughts.
Disclosure: I'm an atheist, so I don't send out Christmas cards. It seems hypocritical and weird, somehow, so I just forgo the entire thing, and try to get together with people, instead.
posted by vivid postcard at 4:50 PM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let me be candid: Your sister has kids, right? And perhaps she is more self-conscious about her appearance than you are?

She's being unkind, and her own insecurities are showing. Send the Christmas card. I wouldn't send it to work colleagues, but I tend to be super careful about dividing the two (and my workplace is not the kind of place that fun, playful cards are the perfect choice). My Christmas card that Mr. arnicae and I are sending this year is playful and fun - and going to our friends and family. Work colleagues are getting a nice, sincere, and more professional card.

Send the card. Add me to your list! I bet it looks great (and I'll send you one of our xylophone-playing rabbit)
posted by arnicae at 4:59 PM on November 26, 2012


As you can see from this thread, tastes vary. If you were sending a card to just the people who have responded here, you couldn't please us all. Don't overthink how every person will respond to your card, just send what you like. After all, it's your card, it's about you - that's the point!

Also? Shame is a weird thing. If pictures of you cause your sister to feel embarrassed, that's absolutely her issue, not yours. (To be fair, there could be an issue between you, but it's not because of your Christmas card layout choice.) Please don't let her issue cause you mental anguish over this.
posted by attercoppe at 6:23 PM on November 26, 2012


Well, obviously it is vain. How can you consider a card with 17 photos of yourselves anything but vain? But, that's no reason not to send it, and it's not even that embarrassing. As far as human vices go, you're not so bad off. I say send it, if you like the way you look in the photos.
posted by losvedir at 7:25 PM on November 26, 2012


I can only give a personal opinion, but as that's what you're asking for, I will. I don't like these cards, because they seem somewhat vain and rather self-congratulatory. I also feel that this reaction of mine is at least partly a cultural one; I'm British and middle-aged, and Brits of my generation (and older) tend not to like things that seem to be saying "Hey, look at me." Even harmless ones like this. But as I say, this is different from the prevailing attitude in the US, I think (I'm assuming you are American because you wrote "mom". Apologies if I'm wrong).
posted by Decani at 9:05 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think photo cards done seriously are an extremely gauche trend, but I dont judge people who send them because it's not any small cohesive faction of the population. Do whatever you want!
posted by WeekendJen at 11:38 AM on November 27, 2012


I would love to get a card like that from a friend. I would put it up with my other cards -- fewer every year, which is sad -- and it would make me smile for a few weeks. Then on December 26th I'd toss it in the recycling. Send it!
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:11 PM on November 30, 2012


To slightly paraphrase Voltaire - yeah that does seem a bit unusual but I would 100% defend your right to send an unusual card if that floats your boat!

One way to look at it would be that the pictures clearly represent something important to you, and so sending the card is sharing something with the recipients.

Also as people have noted inter-family advice can be about a lot more than the direct subject matter at hand...
posted by Albondiga at 11:08 PM on December 1, 2012


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