AHH, ‘tis the season. The time to mail your holiday cards with your amazing looking children, partners, and of course, perfect animals. I relish in getting these cards; enjoying how family and friends are doing – seeing it first hand.

That said, I do not send my own cards.  Part of my reason is sheer laziness and organization.  Not forgetting someone, trying to hunt down address and mail in a timely fashion is just beyond me.

I often find myself wondering when I receive these beautiful cards, what are the stories behind each happy face?  Similar to the perfect vacation shares on social media, celebration posts of our high moments or awesome kids.  There is no harm in curating these happy moments in life. However ignoring the moments that hurt or cause us to dissolve into tears simply by leaving them off our “timeline” is a recipe for unhappiness.

Each face smiling back at me from this year’s stack of holiday cards has their own backstory — pretty or not. Part of the reason I know this is because I’m invited behind that curtain everyday.  I listen to the stories that DON’T show up on people’s timelines or on their holiday cards. In the year that occurs between these cards being sent, a LOT happens.  Some of it is wonderful and some of it is not.

Last year, I contemplated a holiday letter.  We have all received the family-year-in-review card; an upward trajectory attached to those brilliant smiles.  I wrote my family’s story but never got my act together to take the picture. Some of the themes of the year in my nuclear and extended family were trips (I would call them vacations but they were not relaxing), separations, loss, death, emails from unhappy teachers, new babies, first steps, first words, job loss, moves, new jobs, new house, more loss, kisses and snuggles, tantrums and eye rolls (sometimes by me and sometimes by others), illness, arguments, laughs, tears, more tears, more laughs.

I looked back at last year’s half-finished letter as I wrote this post, some of it made me laugh and some of it made me nearly cry (again). I had actually forgotten so many of the ups and downs that I even wrote about.

So, as you open those holiday cards in the next few weeks, remember each has a much larger story to tell.

Connection Challenge:  Write your year in review and be honest. It’s extremely therapeutic to put our thoughts on paper, good and bad.  Next year you might even look back and laugh…or cry…or both.


Also published on Medium.

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