Be Careful What You Ask For

I admit I am one of those people with an attitude towards Christmas that vacillates between wild enthusiam and Bah-Humbug … sometimes in the span of a single hour.


I miss the innocent anticipation of Christmas I had in childhood.  I miss the magic of simply gathering with people I care about without all the expectations that is now built in to the season.

It seems to have morphed into this insatiable monster of buy, buy, buy … give, give, give … eat, eat, eat.

ok – maybe the “eat, eat, eat” is just my problem.


I’ve tried to scale back the madness, but each year I find myself being sucked into the vortex of the *perfect* Christmas once again, only to then dissolve into a funk in the days following … resentful that my holiday felt more like *work* and less like *play*.

Several years ago, in an attempt to pull Christmas back from the brink, I asked my family for a new Christmas tradition … the exchanging of cards to one another on Christmas morning.


I had a secret hope that it would eventually replace the exchanging of gifts.

I had this Norman Rockwell image of loved-ones gathered around, spending precious time with each other, sharing personal sentiments of love and goodwill.

I believed that the cards would be the catalyst that would trigger this change.

Cue reality.


When your family is comprised of men, your intention and their execution aren’t always aligned.

The biggest kid of all – my husband – steadfastly refused to give up the exchanging gifts, and the exchange of cards became less the warm-and-wuzzy I was expecting and more the silly humour that seems to characterize my family.


The gathering of loved ones has happened … with all the noisy chaos of happy bodies telling stories, laughing, and spreading good cheer.

Mushy sentimentality? … well, not so much.  Instead, my men have embraced cards on the other end of the spectrum.


The first hour or more of our Christmas morning is spent in giggles and trying to see who-outdid-who in the humour department.


I guess I didn’t appreciate how ingrained our new family tradition had become until last weekend when I met with one of my nieces.  She has spent Christmas morning with us the past couple of years and has been a witness to the light-hearted silliness of our card exchange.

She informed me that she had already started working on her card selection for Christmas morning.

Damn! – suddenly I’m feeling the pressure is now on.  What is this new monster I have created?


Christmas 2014 … some children never grow up. 

Each of the cards in this post has been a part of one of our Christmases past.

Card credits to and with my thanks for providing my family with much more entertainment from a piece of paper than you can possibly imagine.


About Joanne Sisco

Retired but not idle. Life is an adventure - I plan to continue to embrace it.
This entry was posted in Family, Memories, Random Stuff and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

77 Responses to Be Careful What You Ask For

  1. LB says:

    Joanne, the cards are a hoot!! What a great tradition.
    Keep working on getting away from the gift exchange. I’m trying, too … succeeded with my friends, but not the family. YET!


  2. Mrs. P says:

    I can totally relate to your bah humbug! For years we’ve forgone the gift giving routine but not just for Christmas, we include birthdays and other holidays, including Valentine’s Day.

    Instead, we express our love by leaving cute notes from time to time, for the other to find. I might get the car to find, “There’s a princess in this car!’ taped to the steering wheel. Or, he might find the words, ” I love you!” written on the dusty panes of the window leading into the shop. And then sometime later, I’ll notice he wrote, “Me too!’ next to it.

    We never know when the notes will appear… but they are always special when they do!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. RuthsArc says:

    Oh what fun. Traditions a wonderful, both old and new. Enjoy 🙂


  4. Norm 2.0 says:

    I love silly traditions like this, awesome idea! Getting together and sharing laughs and good times is the most important thing. We deliberately stepped off the gift giving treadmill about a dozen years ago. Now only the kids under 18 in the family get gifts. It took some getting used to at first but now we don’t miss it at all.


  5. NancyTex says:

    Those cards are hilarious, Joanne!
    Oh, and I so relate to the comment about vacillating between enthusiasm and bah-humbug. So me. So much.


  6. reocochran says:

    I liked the gingerbread murder mystery card and the “let’s be honest Santa drinks” wine (or beer or Scotch. . . 🙂 )


  7. jannatwrites says:

    I think the card tradition is fun. I love twisted humor in cards! Our family doesn’t exchange gifts- we just do for the kids so there’s not any pressure there. I’ve struggled to get in the Christmas spirit this year…. it’s been a tough year, but my younger son’s insistence is slowly getting me moving. I have to admit I’m feeling it a little now, but am still keeping it simple 🙂 enjoy the fun tradition and good luck finding the card that will make them laugh so hard they almost pee their pants!


    • joannesisco says:

      The biggest compliment is when someone snorts whatever they are drinking out of their nose!! 😉

      Maybe this is the year you should start your own silly tradition that has no purpose but to make you laugh 🙂


  8. Phil Taylor says:

    What a great tradition! It sounds like you actually got what you wanted by introducing the new card giving tradition. If humor is what characterizes your family, then you had the perfect idea. Sharing laughs together will always be remembered by all involved.


  9. Sue Slaght says:

    Joanne I think this is a fantastic tradition! One that would definitely be up my alley. I’m not so keen on all the present buying and food making i must admit. This year we are packing everyone up and getting on a plane for a Mexican beach. I kind of like that tradition. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lynn says:

    What a fun tradition you have created with your family. Like you, there is not a thing in the world I need, with the exception of spending time as a family. I would happily forgo the gifts, imagine how much running around & stress would be gone!


  11. I’m over it. See my recent post on the topic.

    Your family is very clever and enterprising. They took you up on your very fine suggestion and found a new form of fun. Excellent.

    As you say, be careful what you wish for. This one has its own path now.


  12. Glazed says:

    Those are funny cards. I like the idea of cards rather than gifts, at least for adults. It’s easy to buy gifts for kids, but usually hard to figure out what an adult would want.


    • joannesisco says:

      I’m still holding out hope that one day my family will give up the gift exchange. I think it is a practice that has outlived its usefulness.

      Now, if only I could convince myself of the same thing about the excesses of Christmas dinner :/

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Love the cards. Corny describes them in one word. The onesies are priceless! 😍
    I’ve changed my attitude about xmas completely. I only gift to my 2 nephews. Otherwise, I like to give during the year, when I see something that I think someone will really want. The surprise of getting a gift on a random day seems to win folk over more than a somewhat obligatory day like xmas.


  14. Su Leslie says:

    Joanne, these cards really are brilliant! I struggle with Christmas every year; trying to make it fun and meaningful for my very small family. I guess it’s easier now the boy-child isn’t a kid any more and we can negotiate new “traditions”. I love the idea of cards replacing gifts but suspect my boys would never go for it. They’re definitely in the cards + gifts camp.


    • joannesisco says:

      I’ve already been out looking for cards and discovered that the selection of cards has dwindled alarmingly.

      It seems that people don’t send greeting cards anymore and even the stores that used to specialize in cards are now filled with ‘stuff’ instead.

      It seems we might have to resort to our own imaginations sooner than I thought! Uh-oh … new challenge.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Su Leslie says:

        I’ve noticed that too Joanne. An old friend and I have a tradition of exchanging the funniest cards we can find, and so far this year, I’ve found nothing worthy of her. But then I remember how much cards cost the last time I bought one ($8), and how much postage cost (lots of my cards go to the UK) and I think how much I could donate to the Mission … and I can see why card shops are going out of business.


  15. hilarymb says:

    Hi Joanne – I can see your idea .. but actually you’ve created something very special for your family and you haven’t a hope of changing a thing … love it!! Those cards are amazing, while the family in their costumes are just wonderful to see – gosh I’d be so tired laughing – I’d be exhausted til the New Year!! Wonderful post … cheers – I’ll have Santa’s wine! Hilary


    • joannesisco says:

      Well in truth, there is a certain amount of libation that occurs on Christmas Day 😉

      I am so happy that my home is filled with laughter when we all get together and none of the pettiness that some families complain about 🙂


  16. Joe says:

    I know how you feel Joanne I feel the same way especially the 😀 Speaking of eating I almost thought I saw zeppoles in one of your photos 😀


    • joannesisco says:

      You have to go a little further south to Calabria to find my family traditions.
      These are turdilli which I think are a heavier, denser version of zeppoles. Rather than dusted with powdered sugar, they are dipped in hot honey because, well … Italians like maximizing calories 😉
      … and I find them absolutely irresistable.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Heyjude says:

    Given that we now have 6 grandchildren and buying for everyone was getting expensive (apart from difficult to meet up), last year I announced that we would only buy for the children from now on, but would take little gifts (foodie ones) when we met up. This year my adult children have followed suit buying only for the nephews and nieces. We don’t need more ‘stuff’ but it would be nice if we could get together more often, unfortunately none of us has a big enough house to host Christmas dinner and driving in the winter rain and wind is not cheerful. Maybe sending humorous cards is the answer!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Corina says:

    My birthday is on Christmas so for the past more than twenty years, my kids have gotten me really funny birthday cards which all have a Christmas and Birthday theme. Yeah, they are out there! I’ve come to expect them. My son is really good at picking them out. One year, he picked out the card, mailed it to one of his sisters so she could sign it too then that daughter sent it to the daughter that was actually going to see me for Christmas so she could sign it and deliver it. That took a lot of planning and thought and follow through. Silly how traditions get started.


  19. Those are so funny! You created a monster, but how fun is that – laughs and thinking of each other as everyone looks for the funniest card. I agree that the season is on the hectic side. We added a grandchild a couple years ago, so the quiet easy Christmas of the past decade is gone for awhile. Happy holiday, Joanne.


  20. I think the card idea is a good one. I have to admit, my taste in Christmas cards tends to veere towards the humorous ones. Too bad you haven’t been able to get rid of the gift exchange. Could you at least draw names so each person has to purchase only one gift? We did that for awhile in my family (adults, only. The kids still received individual presents) until we stopped even that exchange. It really makes the season much more enjoyable and we don’t end up with more stuff we don’t really need. Good luck!


  21. “When your family is comprised of men, your intention and their execution aren’t always aligned.” Amen, sister.

    Based on what I already know about your family, I think I could have predicted this development. Must make for a riotous start to the day. 😀

    I can’t get my head around Christmas and I’ll admit to feeling rising panic about gifts and how I’m going to source them. Timing is getting a bit tight for online shopping.


    • joannesisco says:

      I thought of you when I wrote that line. I figured you would appreciate it more than most people 🙂

      I think you are in a position to have a non-traditional Christmas. The timing is unfortunate but perhaps the men in your life may have to give you a Christmas. The results could be a blast for everyone 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Christmas Day should be okay. We usually go to my parents’ house and everyone contributes to the meal (I usually do dessert). We also have a Kris Kringle system including the kids but only for those who will be in attendence on Christmas Day. That way everyone gives and everyone receives one present. And we have a low dollar limit so it’s not too stressful. It works well.

        I’m just struggling a bit with what to do for the boys. It’s hard enough most years. There’s only so much Lego you can buy and a couple of them are too old for that now anyway. Maybe we could give them cash but wrap it in an enormous box? 😀


  22. Feel the pressure and think maybe a “card exchange” might lighten my mood. Thanks.


  23. bikerchick57 says:

    Our Son is God…LOL! I love your family’s sense of humor, it’s awesome! When I was married, I asked one year that we not exchange gifts so that we could enjoy the season. Everyone agreed. I didn’t buy gifts. Both parents and in-laws handed us checks on Christmas Day. I had nothing for them. Never did that again.


  24. Mara Eastern says:

    Suicidal cookie, yay! 😀 Other than that, I’m a bah-humbug person, so I have no Christmas stories to tell…


  25. Oh Joanne, this was such a funny post! My favourite card is the one with the penguin. lol!

    For my extended family who lives far away, we agree to donate in that person’s name to a local food bank. That way, people in need get food and presents.

    My husband and I exchange gifts but we totally have fun with it. First, there’s tree presents (scratch and win lottery tickets) individually wrapped, 35 or so of our favourite chocolate treats and so on. We have fun with the wrapping but honestly, our favourite is the tree presents. We scratch off the lottery tickets on Boxing Day and it’s become a great tradition.

    Being foodies, we tend to give each other food (everything from fine cheeses to imported olive oil). We have enough “stuff”.

    I love the Christmas card idea. 🙂

    Merry Christmas, Joanne!


  26. Love the “our son is God” one, LOLOL!


  27. I love the one with the three moms. It’s really a great idea Joanne! Who needs all the expense and bother?


    • joannesisco says:

      That one is my favourite too 🙂

      It would have been a great idea if everyone had agreed to stop exchanging gifts. Now it’s one more thing to add to my to do list … knowing now that this silliness is being taken seriously!!

      I’m thinking of ordering in pizza instead of the big turkey dinner. Hope no one minds 😉


      • Yes, well I see the sentiment after having just read your post. There are entire parties that are centered around the theme of regifting, you know. You can read about them on the internet.
        Every year I go to my mother’s for Christmas and Thanksgiving and the menus pretty much the same…deli sandwiches, mac and cheese and pizza for the men and kids. She tries to get something a bit healthier for herself, me and my sister. I have to admit to being a bit miffed this year when she got me a Hot Pockets frozen meal.


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