disclaimer: no birds were harmed in the making of this card

I love coming up with Christmas card ideas! It is a task I really look forward to and I enjoy setting out to create a holiday greeting that is fun and creative and will hopefully offer its recipients a smile and some cheer. And all humility aside, I totally thought our card from last year was super cool (just for grins, you can check it out here). But after sending that one out, I knew I would be hard-pressed to come up with something to follow in its footsteps. I knew my mind had to be on the constant lookout for an idea that might be a suitable successor. And then it hit me, like a bullet in hunting season; bam, I had a thought! Which, non-coincidentally, was in hunting season and involved bullets… But I am rambling and that is not really relevant. Anyways, I wanted our Christmas wishes to friends and family to be a snap shot of what a bulletin board might look like in our home in the winter season. And in doing so, one part of it would hint that some wish list items were crossed off because they were acquired on a family excursion, involving camo and shot guns. I know, the implied death of 4 calling birds, 3 french hens, 2 turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree does seem a bit twisted and odd, no doubt. But in my mind it was clever and witty; and I was going to go forward with it!

But unfortunately, it never worked out for us all to go on a hunting trip together. Rob had been able to take Halle once before, several years ago (She loved it, by the way. And wanted to know when we could eat the dove her daddy shot, the very same little guy she had just been holding and stroking and commenting on how beautiful it was…) And Rob had already been able to go a few times this year at the start of hunting season. So I thought, surely, it would not be a challenge to get all the girls and myself out on a dove lease, shoot some foul, and pose for pictures before December. I was wrong though. November came to end and we had not yet made it out. And the weeks to follow (before it would be too late to send a card) were not looking promising either.

I really wrestled with the possibility of blowing off my idea completely. I didn’t want to send out pictures that never really happened. But I was already so emotionally invested in this and I had my heart set on what I wanted the final product to convey, that I couldn’t let go of this idea. To help me justify this illusion of events I wanted to create, I started considering the majority of other christmas cards we receive that are staged for photos. Would this one really be that different? I mean how many families really sit all dressed up, nice and pretty in front of a tree or a nice backdrop, and all smile at the same time and in the same direction? I mean, when you think about it, most cards really are a bit misleading in what impressions of reality they leave the viewer with. That fact was one point in my favor. And this card of mine wouldn’t completely be a falsification of life in The Van Vleet home. Rob is a dove hunter, he owns several guns, Halle has been hunting, and I desperately want to start a family tradition of dove hunting at Christmas time. So I concluded what I was about to do would not be deception, it would really just be a foreshadow of life to come, a sneak peek if you will.

When it was all said and done, the card really was legit and not falsified (just the activities we are pretending to do is where the trickery comes in). Dee, Gracie, and Halle all wrote their own names and I just scanned them into the computer. And the lovely ‘Joy to the World’ drawing was Halle’s very own artwork – which she designed herself! The pictures of the girls were taken in the back part of our subdivision, where I could avoid having houses and power lines show up in the background. I asked them to look real excited and point at the ground (this was an honest request because it was like we were doing a future practice run, for when we really would have trophies from a successful hunting trip to elicit big smiles). Rob was trickier to get a photo op with as he wasn’t being very cooperative with me. But finally, the day before I needed to get the cards out in the mail, a neighbor came over in the drizzling weather to shoot a picture of the happy-hunting couple with a gun in the empty lot on our street. With that last picture taken, I quickly added it to the arrangement I had already been working on and voila, it was complete. I hurried off to Costco to make 100 copies, thus sealing the deal and passing the point of no return on what our Christmas cards were going to portray.

So there you have it, crafty and craftiness all in one. Hopefully next year’s card wont require any mock up work, we really will be climbing some tall mountain peaks! But that is all I am going to say about that… You’ll just have to wait for Christmas 2010 to see what we are “up” to!

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