Merry Merry Everything – A Christmas Card Adventure


This is a story.  It is the story of a Christmas adventure.  It’s not a pretty story, but it’s true.

It all started innocently enough.  Rachel decided this would be the year we would finally send out a family Christmas card.  You know the ones.  A pretty picture postcard of a smiling family in the park or on the beach.  Maybe they’re wearing coordinated outfits and include the family dog.  Perhaps there’s a letter attached with all the highlights of the family’s year.  It’s a Christmas tradition, right?  If the family really has their act together, in this digital age, they are savvy enough to send out a video e-card, with the kids singing sweetly or the hipster parents dancing…  I think you get the picture.

It’s all so perfectly nice.

Here’s where the trouble began.  It was the tree.  We… wait a second.  Trouble started before the tree.  It actually started a few weeks ago.  I admit it.  This part was my fault.  I got an itch to repaint our family room and couldn’t stand the look of that outdated striped wallpaper anymore so I tore it down.  Ah, that felt good.  The trouble is, I didn’t have time to finish what I started.  So, as Christmas approached, we were living in a room with patches on the walls and everything half done.

Not a problem.  We live in California so there is no earthly reason to take a picture inside anyway.  We figured on some beautiful sunny California day we would step outside and take our picture in the sunshine, with our orange tree in the background just to make our Canadian friends and family jealous because, after all, if nobody is jealous of our perfect little family, what’s the point of the Christmas card?

I still don’t remember why we could NOT get it together during the daylight hours but we didn’t.  Time was ticking away and Christmas was getting closer so one evening we decided “This is it.”  We are taking that stupid picture tonight or it’s not happening at all!  After all, this is a perfect night.  We just got our Christmas tree so we can stand in front of it with big dopey smiles and show our beautiful tree.  Besides, I’ll just tack some oversize Christmas stockings on the wall and nobody will notice the rest, right?  Right.

Just for giggles, we decided that instead of wearing matchy-matchy outfits (that was for you, Mom), we would pull out some of the more colorful pieces from the Jenny and Pearl Etsy shop, including a couple of ugly Christmas sweaters, and liven things up a bit.  Not too weird, just a little bit kitschy.

So, we have the location – check! We have the wardrobe – check!  We are ready to roll.

Here is where major problem #2 came in.  That tree!  It would not, could not stand straight!  We adjusted, readjusted and adjusted some more but that pine had a lean like the freaking Tower of Pisa!

Whatever!  Moving along.  If we stand in front of the tree they will be looking at how cute we are and not even notice that wonky tree.

Major problem #3.  The lighting.

You would think, in a home with a man who spent his lifetime in film and video production and a woman who, every day of her life photographs product to sell in her shop, we would have some kind of perfect lighting situation set up to make anyone look good but alas, you are wrong.  We do not have such a set up.  We have a floor lamp with three bulbs in it that, in the dark, cast a sickly yellow glow on everything.  Nothing says Christmas like a family with jaundice!

I have to give kudos to Rachel here.  She tried.  She really, really tried.  She set up that camera, adjusted the aperture, the speed, the angle and set that timer over and over again in her attempt to get that one perfect shot but it was to no avail.  The more time passed, the more shots we took, the worse that picture looked.

That’s when it hit us.  We are NOT the picture perfect Christmas card family.  Our lives are messy and awkward and at times downright ugly so let’s just embrace the fact that this whole thing has gone perfectly sideways and lean into the weirdness.  So, that’s what we did.  We planted ourselves in front of that leaning Christmas tree, wore our colorful Christmas garb with pride, grabbed the dog and one of the cats and gave it our best shot.


awkward family photo, awkward Christmas photo


From the upside down world of the Rutledge household to your home this Christmas, we wish you and yours a wonderful, joyous and blessed Christmas and a sane and Happy New Year!


“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” Luke 2:14


  1. Carol Schmidt

    OK, I feel better now. I have a similar situation in my living room. We decided no tree.

    • Merry Christmas to you and Jared and all the other kin! Love to you all!

  2. I love it! 🙂 Much of it sounds way too much like our home though.
    One of my unfinished projects: Last week, I hauled over to our new home several boxes of old books that I told Lynda I would sort and dispose of before our next move! – One of the boxes was part of a world lit collection that was donated to Bethel Church when I told your father that as an English major I needed … but I have never opened one of many volumes!?!
    (I’ll sort my boxes of books when you finish your wall redo.)
    Have a joyful Christmas with the entire family and tell them that Dennis and Lynda love them and what they have contributed to our lives.

    • Love to you and Linda and the rest of the family! Hope you Christmas is wonderful!

  3. Timmarie

    Love, love, love it!

  4. Valerie Battaglia

    I loved your “true” story! Appreciate your transparency…people can better relate, because they themselves are not perfect (even though they make look like they are!) Have a wonderful Christmas! The picture is great! And I read the whole article!

  5. Katie (Kuroishi) Turner

    marvelous, simply marvelous. Merry Christmas to all of you.

Comments are closed.