Note by Note: Christmas Card Blues | No. 4 | 12.11.18

One of my favorite Christmas cards ever arrived in our mailbox several years ago. The front photo had your typical darling, smiling, outfit-coordinated children, but the backside was hilarious. The photographer captured the action a few minutes before or afterwards (or both)…one child had just pulled the hair of his crying sister who is leaning into the other annoyed, frowning sister. 

A pure gift. The true story. We kept this card in our dining room for an entire year.   

We all like to put our best feet forward by displaying our bright and shiny on social media, in conversation, in advertising, in our holiday cards. 

My history of falling prey to perfectionism is long and storied. And let’s face it—if you are feeling less than perfect, the holidays can be rough. December may not be “the most wonderful time of the year” if you are living with illness, loss, divorce, financial stress, division, infertility, loneliness…or even burnt cookies, too few invitations and a bad back. 

Resist the urge to think that everyone else is having the best time, that everyone else always feels included, that everyone else has matching, monogrammed pajamas and a great attitude. 

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.” ~Anne Lamott 

Feeling broken against the backdrop of beauty, I wrote “Christmas Card Blues” as the cards rolled in. I needed humor and a little bit of resistance. Hopefully you’ll find some catharsis in this song too. 

The truth is that my holidays—and yours—will be full of snapshots similar to the front AND back of that favorite card. Magical and challenging, beautiful and trying…and wonderful all the same. 

Can you find some humor in holiday events or moments that go awry? Will you give someone else the gift of sharing your imperfections? How can you take your holiday expectations down a notch? 

Happy (perfectly imperfect) Holidays! 

All the best – with gratitude, 

Joy 

P.S. I’m delighted that my son Ryan Dugan joins me on this version of “Christmas Card Blues”! Our green tint is Grinch-intentional.

P.P.S. Please don’t delete me from your holiday card list. Despite my flaws, I delight in your news and your beautiful photos. And I have to admit there are no crying children on my card this year… 

Christmas Card Blues 

Words & Music by Joy Zimmerman 

Copyright© 2017 Joy Zimmerman Music 

 

It’s December 8th, at least I think that’s the date 

In the midst of the cheer and the fun 

But my cookies have burned, and the weather has turned 

Now my next test is close at hand 

You see, my mailbox is full, and I’m feeling the pull 

Of the holiday cards that await 

 

I get the Christmas card blues just hearing the news 

A mix of delight and charades 

In those matching sweaters, your lives could not be better 

My insecurity takes the stage 

With your fancy advances and your dog in honors classes 

I’m sinking right into a stew 

 

I know your meals are all square, you all have perfect hair 

Your days are all sunny, and everyone’s funny 

Your kids master flashcards, architecture, Creole and chess 

Each athletic feat will live on  

O Christmas cards, those Christmas cards 

Why do I take it so hard? 

 

Here we have dust balls and fur balls and athlete’s foot 

We are cranky and tired with lousy attitudes 

We love junk food and baked goods when we’re up to no good 

I’d exaggerate and try to brag if I could 

But I am cynical and too aware of our flaws 

Especially on those who come with four paws

 

I get the Christmas card blues just hearing the news 

A mix of delight and charades 

In those matching sweaters, your lives could not be better 

My insecurity on parade 

With your fancy advances and your dog in honors classes 

I’m sinking right into my stew

 

Glo…ri…..all those Christmas cards                   

Glo…ri…..all stuck in my craw 

I’m not proud of my annual brawl 

With perfection’s siren song 

 

In truth our blessings run deep, far and wide 

We have such a wonderful life 

Please keep your cards coming, despite my shortcomings 

My own cards soon will fly  

So be of good cheer, good tidings are here 

Just don’t take it personally 

Be of good cheer, good tidings are here 

Just don’t take it personally

 All those Christmas cards….

 

Joy Zimmerman's soulful vocals and original music dance effortlessly from poignant to hilarious to compelling to joyful -- round-trip guaranteed! With folk rock as a springboard, Joy dives into the everyday and the extraordinary. A traveling musician based in Kansas City, Joy is a voice of authenticity, hope and joy. 

Joy's songwriting awards include an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention and eight Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins. She has recorded six albums - three in Nashville and three in Kansas City. Joy released To the Girl, her sixth album of original music in April 2019.  joyzimmermanmusic.com

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