When recently asked about intro-info beyond regular bio stuff by a group wanting to be consistent with my “image”, I couldn’t help but reply with a slice of real:
I have no management over an “image” :) Except that I manage to constantly embarrass my kids. One asked me yesterday after sinking low in her shotgun seat, “Mawwmmm!!! Do you act like this when we’re not in the car?!!” And by this, she might have been referring to my singing (which honestly was very close to Adele’s) and my accompanying hand motions. I’m in the car a lot. What can I be but myself. I sing in the shower – loud. So why not the car, too? It’s only awkward when the person stopped beside sees. Or when my windows might be down.
And then there’s “that moment” when the daughter in the back seat says that her friend “pulled up next to you at a stop light last week. She tried to wave but couldn’t get your attention because you were so engrossed in the song you were singing.” Yes – that was the actual response to her sister’s question about whether or not I do these things when I’m alone.
So – image management is far from my forte.
Which made me think about the very real societal pressures to manage an image. In fact, we have one such pressure, unique to this time of year, facing many a family today: the beloved Christmas card.
For your reading pleasure – here’s a little info on how the Christmas card began:
(The) first official Christmas card was created in 1843 in Britain. Sir Henry Cole, director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, would write letters to family and acquaintances at Christmastime. He and others could buy decorative paper on which to pen greetings and good wishes, but he found it to be a cumbersome task. So Cole commissioned an artist friend, John Calcott Horsley to create a card with a simple message that could be duplicated and sent to all his acquaintances. Horsley lithographed and hand-colored 1,000 copies of this first commercial card. It was a three-panel card – the center panel showed a family celebrating and the two wing panels depicted people feeding the hungry and clothing those in need. The card bore the simple greeting, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You,” which would become the standard sentiment of the mass-produced Christmas cards.
Christmas cards – they’re so much fun to receive (seriously – we fight to open them in our house.) It’s fun to send them. And such fun to take the Christmas photo … Okay, yes & no. They can also be the tiniest bit stressful.
Here’s a little #hydratefortheholidays tip as it relates to image pressures – especially those of the Christmas-card variety: consider the pic behind the pic. Fact: getting the just-right-photo with smiling-happy-people backdropped by a lovely panoramic landscape is a C H A L L E N G E. Complaints, questionable attitudes, rolling eyes, possible crying, attire-challenges – it’s there for EVERYONE – especially in the younger-kiddo years. It’s the reality pic behind the beautiful Christmas card photo.
But rather than strive to create the perfect image AND rather than let an another’s apparent perfect-image have something to say about you, opt instead to see behind the seen’s where there’s always more than meets the eye. And it’s usually a load of regular.
Note to self: Instead of giving into image-pressures, simply relish in the friendship/relationship involved in every card that slips through the mail slot. Rather than give an inch to tempting-thoughts that drift toward places of comparison where one might think that someone’s life looks better than our own – gravitate toward gratitude for all we have.
Don’t let snapshots mean more than they do. Because that’s really all they are a photo – though granted a lovely one – on paper. Like social media that parades highlight reels ((let’s face it, thanks to Facebook, Instagram and such we’re faced with Christmas-letter highlight reels every day) they’re simply momentary grabs that have more to the story. Because almost every pic has a the good, the bad, the ugly, and lots of regular just below the surface.
Maybe even consider sending regular.
“Yeah, I just got a card from a friend,” my friend just told me. “It’s a random picture of her two daughters in t-shirts at a football game. It’s cute, but I wondered why she used a casual pic as her Christmas card.” Then she paused and added, “I love her card and all the regular. It reminded me that many of life’s best moments are in the regular and to get over any pressure I might feel to have a perfect pic.”
“I love that.” I do.
“But – this year we’re not sending a card,” she told me.
“I’m trying send one,” I told her. “I’m going retro. Yeah – I’m sending a picture I love from a few years ago. A Throw-back Thursday pic since Christmas is on a Thursday this year.”
“Uhhh – Christmas is on a Friday,” she informed me.
“It is?!” I searched my calendar.
“Whatever.” I’m still going retro. If I get my act together and rise above my procrastinator issues.
And remember to breathe – then yet again go to what seems to be the common theme – see beyond the outward packaging to the people. Enjoy the pic; and remember to see behind the seens where there’s always more than meets they eyes.”
Pictures fade, but people stay. People who – like EVERYONE else – simply long to belong, to be known and to be loved.
Thanks for walking the road with me.