Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Representation Matters

Ah, holiday cards. I am way behind on ours. I think they may be New Year's cards at this rate. I don't know how life got so busy, but I am in complete shock that this coming weekend is the weekend before Christmas (I mean, the following weekend is Christmas Eve, but still!). How did that happen?

I think others are in the same boat, as we've gotten maybe 6 cards so far, so I don't feel horribly behind. I'm happy to say that all of the cards I've gotten so far with kids in them also feature the adult members of the family -- something that loribeth at The Road Less Traveled writes extensively about here. Everyone deserves to be on the card!

As for us, I think we are going to do the thing that is all the things we love to do (and can do) now that we're a family of two, definitely. If people see it as sad that says more about them than it does about us...and we are going for a bit of the snark here. I envision that chaise lounge shot with the cocktail dress and champagne glass, stylized "whoops, we slept in until 11???" shot with a giant old fashioned alarm clock if I can find one, stacks of books, Bryce doing crazy math without numbers in his office, tasting a really nice bottle of wine, etc. with some sort of "life is good" message...Bryce said we should make a tombstone that says "Mystery Baby" but I felt that was a little TOO morbid, so, um, NO. Fairly sure he was kidding but you just never know with that lunatic. I think we can put a little note on the back thanking everyone for their support but that the quest for mystery baby is over. There are people who I keep in touch with via holiday cards who are not on Facebook and who don't know, not because they don't care enough but because they were in a sphere that didn't get the blast (which was also fairly vague on Facebook, only if you read up here in April-May-June did you get the whole story).

Anyway. Not everyone cares about/for the photo cards, but I love them -- they can be so creative, they can give a snapshot of a year (I keep them all, and it's fun to look back), and they streamline the whole sending-cards thing (I still address my envelopes by hand, but I love the options to put a message on the back that comes already done...maybe a bit less personal but SO MUCH EASIER).

The problem is, when I actually looked through my options for card designs, I was WOEFULLY disappointed to find that the catalog for TinyPrints contained ZERO childfree couples or single people, and Shutterfly had ONE out of the myriad adorable kids and sleeping babies that was a young couple and their dog. WTF, card companies? I mean, I get that "Look at my adorable baby/bevy of adorable kids" is sort of your target demographic, but BRANCH OUT for those of us who don't have an engagement/wedding to announce or a baby or child (or four) to parade at the holidays. It felt like an unspoken message -- "You are only worthy of this kind of card if you have all those things -- these aren't meant for you childless/single folks."

I mean, I know someone who searched for "photo cards for singles" and then decided to send "normal" paper cards because the options weren't great. Shouldn't we be at the point where there's just PHOTO CARDS and you don't have to label yourself? That you can send out a photo card of you on vacation or doing something fun and it doesn't have to be "me and my cats, har de har har har;" it doesn't have to make your life into a punchline?

But alas, if you look at the actual card design catalogs, I can see how you would think you need to look up something specifically for single, or childless, or that the photo card is just not for you and your life.

Well SCREW THAT. I know lots of people (especially outside the U.S.) don't get the photo card thing, it's sort of like a visual Christmas letter (and can be just as narcissistic and awful), and is maybe getting to be passe since social media like Facebook allows people to put a curated version of their life out to the masses. I can probably guess what the card photo(s) will be for some of my friends. It's real fun though when what I get is novel and I've never seen those photos in quite that way before, or ever.

Why should the people with kids have all the fun? There are SO MANY people who send out great cards, and who have lovely photos to share. Maybe not the intricate scenarios that ours have turned into (but that sure do give me a kick), but can't the advertising include ALL of us? Out of all the cards shown there was also only one same-sex couple, and they had a baby, too. Include those without kids, for whatever reason! Include those who are single! Include older people without the grandchild parade!

I plan to send an email or a letter to the folks at Shutterfly/TinyPrints. I think they ought to know that their ad campaigns are sorely missing what could be a key demographic. Harrumph.


  1. I feel you on being behind. I feel like I started out the month ahead, and like you said, Christmas is just a weekend away basically, and I’m all whaaaaat happened to all the time I had?!?!
    Yikes, I hope Bryce was kidding...I can’t see any scenario where a tombstone would make a good photo card! But I know that whatever you do it will be amazing, as always!
    I never really knew Christmas letters were every a thing people did, until some far-removed relative of my husbands sent us one when we first got married. And it was...odd. Like they told us an update on their almost-adult son’s computer gaming victories and about their coin collecting...and I just didn’t get it. Like, was it supposed to be a joke, or were they for real...I still don’t know. I mean, if you had big news to tell, but if that was the highlight of your year...I don’t think I would broadcast that. It takes all kinds, I suppose, and to each their own!!

  2. Also...can’t you just make your own photo card??? I obviously know nothing about doing it, but with all the applications out there why do the photo card options have to be preset?
    I occasionally scroll instagram and came across Awkward Family Photos....and saw a recent one where the only single, childless sister out of 5 girls got annoyed at the photo card thing at Christmas and made her own, and someone sent in several years worth that they recently posted. It was pretty damn funny, and original. You should check it out if you haven’t seen it.

  3. Good for you on your plans to send a letter. Over the years we've gotten various holiday photo cards from friends here with them and their kids and there were times when I thought that I would have liked to do my own photo shoot with hubby but I guess you don't see to many cards of just couples like you said and we never did. I would love if more people did it though! I love how you and Bryce create your cards each year. So nice to look back over as you get older. And photos are great ways of capturing the moment

  4. Heh, I was thinking of doing a photo card this year too, but considering it’s the weekend before Christmas and it feels like all we do is get sick again and again, I’m not sure it’s worth the bother. They’d beat Eli be delivered in time to mail. Anyway you made me curious about representation so I looked at Vistaprint and you’re not wrong lol. Although I always imagine my photos in the templates, not that into the examples anyway. I hope you find something that works and have fun with it!

  5. I'm in support of that email -- you make good points so eloquently! Send along whatever version of a photo card you come up with. I would SO get a thrill out of seeing a "whoops, we slept in until 11" shot. I could actually see such a campaign going viral. #kidsnotrequired

  6. Yay, for sending the email! I have made photo cards every year for about the last five years - but my photos aren't of us (as that's not a kiwi thing), but of Christmassy things I've photographed - eg a Christmas dessert in the shape of a Christmas tree, pohutukawa flowers (known as NZ's Christmas tree), and this year's is mince pies. I use Vistaprint, and they have heaps of examples that are as you suggested - just photo cards.

    The companies are not only missing out on/ostracising a huge number of customers. 1 in 5 women over 40 don't have children. Then think of all those people who are in their 20s or 30s and haven't even begun to try. Crazy!

    PS. I love the "whoops, we slept in until 11" shot as well.

  7. Yes, send the email. It's important to see representation of all paths in life. I love your idea of "whoops, we slept in until 11". That is awesome.

  8. Dear beautiful person, I have stumbled across your page this morning while blog searching. Can’t confirm what part of the baby journey we are on since I thought it was the end of the road a long time ago, yet we continue to find ways of affording treatment and keeping baby hopeful. We DO send out yearly cards and prepare ourselves for the baby announcements and the gorgeous tiny babies gift wrapped with tags that say “Gift from above”. I would LOVE to get a creative card like yours! Good for you! Maybe next year I’ll replace all of our yearly vacation photos with a really neat champagne toast set up in a ball gown!

  9. I totally agree! Make room for everyone!

  10. Just because the companies use cute kids & entire families in their sample cards doesn't mean that couples (or singles, for that matter) can't do photo cards. That said, you're right, some people need to SEE it before they can envision it for themselves (the same reason why it's important to see women & persons of colour in positions of power, etc.). Would love to see what you eventually came up with! (We did do the photo card again this year -- and I have done a letter every year too. I'm always afraid of boring people, but they keep telling me they love it, so...!)