I loathe the holiday photo task. Who decreed that, If thou hast a child, thou shalt display that child on thy Christmas card?
Because I'd like to give him/her a piece of my mind.
What happened to the days we all ordered nice cards depicting Christmas trees, angels, polar bears or Currier and Ives paintings, and maybe inserted a wallet sized print of the school portrait in the ones bound for elderly relatives?
It's partly my fault. When the Grape was two, I had a professional photographer, take his picture. A few of my friends tossed the card by accident because they thought it was an advertisement. The photo was that good. I should have had her come back this fall. Maybe I was being cheap, or lazy—I've had a tenacious chest and head cold for five weeks and counting—but I never got around to booking her.
Besides, last year, R. and I spent easily six hours on the project, between various photo sessions wherein boy and dog cooperated only on an alternating basis, photo editing and card layout (Because who knew a vertical photo wouldn't work with our first choice card? Or that the words on the card on our second choice would disappear into the photo because you cannot print white text on a snowy rooftop?)
Surely we could improve on that experience.
This year I thought I was on the ball.
R. and I took roughly two hundred photos of the Grape and Lila the Dog in the woods for the holiday card. Why two hundred? Because the Grape despises the camera and that's how many it took to get one decent photo of both child and canine.
I went online, picked a card format, uploaded our one decent photo and clicked the "submit order" button. I even had a coupon for free shipping. I felt very proud and efficient.
This year we would not be sending out a photo entitled Meltdown Next to Dog Butt, I thought smugly.
R. and I decided that this picture, while not a professional portrait, adequately portrayed the boy and his dog, circa holidays 2013, in a not entirely unflattering light:
FedEx delivered the box of cards the day before Thanksgiving. I tore them open, pleased because I figured I could get the overseas ones sent out over the Thanksgiving weekend.
And then I gawked at the parallel green smudges stretching from the top left corner.
Where my print of the photo shows trees reflected on the Winchester Reservoir, a favorite place to walk on fall weekends, the card showed two bright green parallel lines.
Which might have been alright, except that on top of our photo not transferring well, the card company experienced some kind of printer problem. On the cards, the tree reflection line ran all the way across the picture, leaving the Grape looking like he had recently emerged from a lengthy soak in a heavily chlorinated pool.
I stepped away from the fourteen apples I was peeling for the next day's pie and sent a tweet to Tiny Prints, explaining the problem.
Tiny Prints responded promptly, and made several attempts to fix the way the photo was printing, before their design specialist got in touch today and suggested we try a different picture.
Easier said than done. First of all, it was twenty degrees outdoors when I saw her email. Re-creating the fall tableau was out, and we sent a picture of boy hidden under coat and hat last year.
So we tried indoors. We tried with a cute holiday outfit and elf hat. We tried until the camera battery croaked.
Fifty-two pictures. Most with dog yawning or the Grape making a ridiculous "CHEESE!" face that makes him resemble nothing so much as a piranha, or the Grape's ridiculous long underwear showing, and some with inexplicably weird bright back light.
Here is one of the better ones. No, this is not a joke. They look less than thrilled, but at least Lila the Dog is neither yawning nor practicing good intimate hygiene.
Notice I said it's not the best one. That got sent to Tiny Prints, where I am pretty sure it will clash with the border selected for the original, outdoor photo.
And if they send the proof back in a business day or two, and it miraculously looks alright, we still won't have the cards until a week and a half from now.
I'm sitting here looking at the calendar and wondering whether we should just go with Green Smears and Green Hair.