Enough Already with the Smug Married-With-Kids Christmas Cards

Unmarried people need to do for the photo Christmas card what hipsters did for the mustache—bring it back full force, but make it ironic, fun, and perhaps self-consciously outlandish.
Publish date:
December 3, 2013
holidays, single, greeting cards

We all receive them--Christmas cards from married people. I’m betting that by the end of the holiday season, most of you will have a mantle or table or fridge covered in the smiling mugs of people who are legally wed and/or their offspring.

Now when people are single, they don't consider compiling a few "greatest hits" photos of themselves from throughout the year into one smugly happy card and sending it out to all their family and friends. And they sure as hell don’t hire a photographer for a holiday portrait. Why not, you ask? Because it would seem narcissistic, over-the-top, and more than a little ridiculous.

But as soon as people put a ring on it this good sense goes out the window, and they start to think everyone in the world wants a photo of them at the beach in Cabo with their beloved. Worse still are the cards from people with kids, with staged "action shots" of one kid running earnestly, and another tilting her head and smiling in a faux adorable way, with a big center photo of the whole nuclear family crowded together looking altogether socially acceptable and well-groomed.

Now I’m not arguing that we should eradicate the personalized Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Festivus card. I’m not that much of a Grinch. And even I have to admit that there are a few Xmas cards I look forward to receiving—I would be bummed not to get my annual card featuring the children of a buddy with whom I used to fight fire; and I adore anything that involves photos of my nephews. What I’m saying is that single people need to step it up and turn the photo holiday card on its head.

Unmarried people need to do for the photo Christmas card what hipsters did for the mustache—bring it back full force, but make it ironic, fun, and perhaps self-consciously outlandish. We need to force the matter in order to make the photo holiday card more inclusive. No longer should corny Xmas cards be the sole domain of smug marrieds and breeders! Let’s ensure that the unwed, the childless, the misfits, and the childish can also participate in this uniquely American holiday tradition!

As single people creating our holiday cards we could—instead of featuring pics of our non-existent spouses and children–include “action shots” of ourselves throughout the year doing all the adventurous, fun, silly things that married parents just might not have time for—surfing, rock climbing, playing out with our band, sleeping late, drinking cocktails, lounging with a book, and generally being fabulous.

Another alternative would be to send out joint cards with our BFFs, hamming it up, posing together in Santa’s elves costumes, or riding reindeer. My housemate Ian is considering doing a card with his pal Genessa, which would include pics of their weekend in Napa, their day at the spa, and a photo of them posing in matching Christmas sweaters with Genessa’s miniature Doberman Mr. Tucker. Now that’s a holiday card I can’t wait to see!

This sort of new Xmas card could be a public service to our friends who are unwed, lonely, childless or just plain annoyed at smug marrieds. A guy who has just broken off an engagement will not have to dread a flood of cards featuring nothing but adoring couples. A woman who has miscarried a baby will know that she will receive at least a few Xmas or Hanukkah cards from loving friends that feature something other than pics of perfect newborns and squeezable toddlers. And the newly divorced will be reminded that friendships, hobbies, and a sense of humor can carry a person through the holidays and the year just as surely as a marriage and children can.

Let’s join together and—one festive, dorky Xmas card at a time–transform a holiday ritual that’s a little too stuffy and predictable into something that’s a whole lot more fun and inclusive.