The horses' ears are not pointing forward, but the people are all looking up and smiling, Katy is not turning her back to the camera, Duffy is almost-sitting, and my jawline has not been completely swallowed by my wrinkles, so it's a winner.
Along with the photo, I always write a letter. It's actually how I began my writing "career". After the first letter, people kept telling me I needed to write for real. After the second letter, the arguments began in other households - "Why can't you write a good Christmas letter like the Carlines?" Now that I do write for real, the pressure escalates every year.
I think everyone needs to be confident about one thing they do well. Maybe it's playing a sport, or cooking a meal, or being good at your job. I can honestly say, without bravado, I know I 'm good at Christmas letters. I've read some really good ones and some really bad ones, and I've learned how to do it well.
The trick is to get in and out of your year in one page. If you can do it with a jaunty smile and a hope for peace on earth, good will to everyone, more's the better. If your year has been a hot mess, then do it with poignant grace, and still be hopeful for a better new year.
Here's my letter for 2010:
Wishing you all Peace on Earth, Good Will to Everyone!