Monday, November 28, 2011

Picture Perfect Christmas

Dear Helen Hartman,
I decided to follow your example and cross people off my gift giving list… and give them special cards instead. Then I saw the price of cards! Please make with some advice on how to spread the love this holiday season with cards and still afford a few luxuries, like lunch.

Dear Loves Lunch One,
Helen likes the way you think. Luxury lunch? I’m in! I suppose if the only way to arrange that is to skimp on holiday cards then so be it, let’s get pinching pennies.

Warning: Pinching Pennies is a euphemism for being a big cheapskate, not an activity that involves actually pinching women named Penny. 
Pinch ME and my little Lollie Lawyer Doll will sue the pants off you… well not those pants. Give me credit for having some fashion sense.

 Let’s start with the obvious. Do you really like all that many people enough to bother with giving them cards? Really? And they like YOU in return? Sigh. Okay, Okay, never fear, Helen has a plan.

MAKE your own Christmas cards. 

 “Years later the Mommie once seen kissing Santa Claus grows bitter as he never returns her calls or answers the thousands of letters she’s sent to the North Pole.”

Start by selecting a camera.

“I know it’s so small I have to have it highlighted and enlarged to see it but the man at the store said size didn’t matter, darling.”
“The MAN at the store? Well, he would say that.”

Look around for something that makes an interesting composition (this is supposedly a window display, btw)

Leslie shrieked in horror when she realized she had drawn the name of the fifty foot woman in the office’s Secret Santa pool. Imagine having to fill that stocking!

Or try capturing a warm, family moment.

“Mommy why did the photographer show up to the photo shoot in a robe?”
“I don’t know darling, but he works for elf wages and we’re trying to save a few bucks to hire babysitter for New Year’s Eve, so shut up and look happy.”

Or show off your kids in their best…

Oh holy… crap!

Maybe a fun novelty card would be in order.

 The exact moment Daddy Borrower realized there was a problem:
“Crimen-itly, Teensy, I can’t even climb up into a tree to drink in peace without you and the kids hunting me down and pestering me.”

Or something like this, which in 1949 involved taking several photos and using scissors to cut people out, place them with the packages and then taking a shot of the final mash up.

Yeah, that’s right. Our gifts are so big they can crush us, not unlike the debt we incurred buying all this useless junk.

If you really want to save some $$, why not create a video and share it online?

If this goes viral we’re using the money to put the old folks in a home, shipping you kids off the boarding school and spending the holidays in Cancun! Joy to my world!

And if there is someone you really want to share the sentiments of the season with but know that not giving them anything might get you cut out of the will: Cheap @$$ Holiday Greetings Ala Helen!
I honestly thought this would be cute. It honestly is a disaster. I did 3 of them. I am only showing one because, well, even Helen has her pride. 

A kid’s craft frame with cork (leave a strip or two of it), bits of holiday ribbon, a photo and a vintage pin.
I had hoped to set them out and display all my holiday pins on them. Luckily I don’t have that many pins. 

I suspect most of the ones I have owned fell off my coat as I tossed it on stranger’s beds (at parties, you know when the hostess puts the coats on the bed  - what were YOU thinking?). So there is that.

Hope that saves you a little cash. Remember, memories are free. That’s why that’s what YOU’RE getting from me this season! (Going to share a memory each week, feel free NOT to read on, consider that another gift to you. Now you owe me TWO!)

The House with Something Extra
It was the second year my mom had gone full on artificial.
Silver with all blue satin balls and a light that slowly turned to shine red, blue, green and yellow in lieu of big, glowing bulbs. It was lovely but it just wasn’t, you know, CHRISTMAS. Christmas was messy and prickly and smelled of pine. Christmas dropped needles on the carpet. Christmas was a ‘real’ tree.
Mom would not be deterred and Daddy, being a charter member of the “happy wife, happy life” club did not argue.
So that bleak December evening when they were just about to close up their shop for the night when he said to me, “Get your coat, we’re going for a walk.” I thought he had a chore in mind. He did.
We walked to the Christmas trees leaning against the front of the store and he said – “Pick anyone you want.”
“But Mom…”
“Pick one.”
I did. We dragged it home. Mom gave Dad a look and he gave her one right back. The tree went up in a place of honor -  the den near the TV (take THAT silver tree in the formal living room that no one ever went into!) and Christmas arrived in smell, mess and an unexpected show of love.
I know it seems funny now in this day of trees in every room but back then to have 2 Christmas trees? Who DID that? Only rich people who lived in mansions, we assumed. Well, that year, and every year until my father died (sadly, not that many years later) OUR house was a Christmas mansion, complete with two trees. The fancy silver one with balls in all one color, and the REAL one that Daddy and I picked out together.  


  1. Your post is exactly what I needed this morning to get back into "spirit" after our long weekend. Your Christmas fashion pins are divine and I love your Christmas tree reflections at the end.

    Bring on more Christmas cheer!

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  3. Morning Helen, love your post! Traditions are wonderful memories...have a wonderful week!

  4. Well done on making your cards. I'm usually away for Xmas and I don't know how I'm supposed to cope with all the madness. Probably shut the curtains and pretend I'm not here. x

  5. Oh Dear Helen - I'm so glad I read on to your Christmas memory. What a beautiful "gift" your Dad gave you in more ways than one. And a gift you shared with us. Thank you. You know Dear Helen, you really need to be syndicated in a publication on vintage treasures. Is there such a thing? The world really needs you ;- )

  6. I don't like anyone enough to give them a card. Well perhaps my cat... Hmmm I will think on this.

  7. Thanks Kim - I can't wait to see all your holiday doings!
    Loretta - you have a wonderful week, too.

  8. Vix - He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake!

  9. What a sweet thought, Sponge Curlers and Cupcakes, thanks.

  10. Blackheartbetty - cats just do not appreciate cards, so you're off the hook.

  11. Great ideas for fashion and style.

  12. My grandmother always opted for a "fashion tree," but my mother insisted on the real thing with multi-colored lights and decorations. As a kid, of course we liked the real tree better too. Lucky you to have both!

  13. I dearly look forward to getting cards on any occasion. I do not send as many Christmas as I did. The cards and postage has gotten out of control. I should own a card shop as many as I buy. I am big on cards.

  14. Dana - Real trees with multi colored lights are pretty cool!

    LV - I haven't sent cards in years but I still love getting them, even if they are from my dentist.

  15. Thank you for stopping by earlier today! I have enjoyed quite a giggle while visiting you. The age old card dilemma .... I just pray a get a picture of my kids without them killing each other in the process and send it out. After all, the relatives want to see them as the really are! =)

  16. Bobby and Fred are kinda freaking me out! ;) I sent Thanksgiving cards this year. I am not doing Christmas cards. This way I will have plenty of money to lunch in December! :)

  17. A hilarious take on Christmas cards! I did love your story of your tree and Christmas Mansion!

  18. Jen - you have better friends than me. Mine want to see something they can gloat over, I am sure. "Look at that kid's HAIR."

  19. Hey everybody, lunch is on Jori! Wouldn't you love to know what became of Bobbie and Fred? Maybe not.

  20. Love the story about the two trees....very fun :) It's not Christmas til you go to the tree farm and strap it to the top of your car and bring it home ~ there is NOTHING like it....even fancy evergreen spray can't replace it - lol!!
    Great cards - that one with the family on the tree is hillarious, but creative, you've got to give it that!!

  21. Those 'trick photography' cards are so fun I want to try one. Nice to have Photoshop! We're a fake tree family here - but I totally understand about getting a real tree.

  22. I have never seen the tricky photos before, they are too cute!
    We used to go into the woods at my grandparents house and cut down a tree with our dad. I love those memories.
    I have trimmed my card list and we as a large family now draw names for the adults and buy for all 3 kids. I don't swap with co workers. Financially it makes tons of sense, but somehow it just doesn't feel like Christmas.
    Loads of hugs to you. Merry Christmas!

  23. I am with you Jenny. It doesn't feel like Christmas without little remembrances for family, friends and coworkers. But we all seem to have so much STUFF!


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