Years ago my friend Michelle and I used to celebrate the holiday season by creating a photo card. Sort of like those ones you get in the mail every year from young families in matching sweaters in front of perfect Christmas trees – but ridiculous.
The concept was only half-baked when we were leaving a Perkins late one night in our small northeastern Pennsylvania town and happened upon a little boy in a hat that was made to look like a moose.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” she asked me.
If she was thinking that I was going to make a trip to the Lackawanna county gift shop the next day to buy two so that we could wear them in our first annual holiday photo card, one of which would be taken in the Wal-Mart parking lot in front of their giant lawn inflatables while wearing cut-off Christmas sweaters and snow boots, then yes, I was thinking exactly what she was thinking.
Afterwards, we headed next door to the Cracker Barrel where I insisted on changing into business suits paired with moose hats and taking photos of us playing checkers on their porch.
“Because it’s unexpected!” I told her. And I’m sure that wasn’t enough to convince her but she played along anyway because that’s what friends do. They pose for photos in a blazer and a ridiculous hat while sitting in a rocking chair at the Cracker Barrel. When you tell them to pack a bag with artificial poinsettias and holiday sweaters and show up at Wal-Mart, they don’t ask why – just what time.
If you think that we couldn’t top ourselves after that fine showing, you’re wrong. Because the following year, we headed just down the street in cocktail dresses and took photos in front of our town’s giant cow. What’s that? Your town doesn’t have a giant cow? Well how sad for you. Ours does and we have come to see it as the blessing that it is.
A lot of people driving by honked at us that day. Some shouted “Merry Christmas” and a great many were laughing. We waved back. We waved back like Christmas depended on it. Happy Holidays to you, people making fun of us. Happy Holidays to us all.
In the years to come, we posed in giant stockings and angel costumes. We simulated a snow globe and put a Pomeranian in a Santa suit. We had grand plans to use ATVs one year, but to our great disappointment, it fell through.
We loved making those cards, and I think people loved getting them just as much. Eventually, like many Christmas traditions, we outgrew it and moved on. But we had a nice run while it lasted and ten years later, if I were to say to Michelle “Merry ChristMOOSE” – she would know exactly what I mean.
And we still have that.