‘The only good picture I had was from Halloween. Did I mention we all dressed as zombies?’: Mom shares origin of new family tradition, urges ‘it’s okay to be different’

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“It started as a fluke. A random creation. Not planned. And yet, somehow, five years later, the tradition continues.

It was the Fall of 2016, and I started looking at template designs for Christmas cards. I’ve sent out cards every year since 2008, usually with images of the kids surrounded by very traditional Christmas holiday imagery. For the most part, I’ve always been very traditional. I had a challenge in 2016, though. I didn’t have a good picture of the family or a recent picture of the kids. (When children are young, they change a lot and at an alarming rate!)

The only good picture I had was from Halloween. It included all of us. It was recent. Perfect, right? Well, we were all in full makeup and costume. Did I mention we all dressed as zombies in 2016? Yeah, we were a family of the walking dead.

Zombie Christmas cards? Why not.

A Christmas card with family dressed as zombies
Courtesy of Melanie Forstall

The tradition began.

That year’s card brought me a lot of joy. I laughed a lot when I thought about the absurdity of a zombie family Christmas card—but at the same time, it made so much sense. There are enough people in the world who create beautiful, highly designed, color-coordinated, foil-embossed cards. There are so many beach-themed, sunset-staged photo cards that already exist in the world. Essentially, I realized that the world doesn’t need more of that. The world needs a little bit of different every now and then.

The world needs more zombie-themed Christmas cards.

I appreciate those beautiful cards. I really do. I love them, and I love to hang them throughout my house every year as part of our Christmas decorations. But as much as I love and appreciate them, it doesn’t mean I need to create the same thing.

Just like I remind my children—the world doesn’t need another person exactly like their friend, classmate, or teammate. The world needs you to be YOU—even if that is different and unexpected. It’s okay to be different.

A family Christmas photo dressed in Halloween Star Wars costumes
Courtesy of Melanie Forstall

Over the years, I have begun planning for the cards earlier and earlier. Most years, I start planning in July. There are costumes to be ordered, designs to consider, and messages to curate. Our family budget now has a line item specifically for Christmas card costumes!

Needless to say, my Amazon wish list is an interesting site.

I will say, that of my family of four, I am the only one who loves creating these cards each year. I end up using an ungodly amount of cheese to get the dog to cooperate. In some cases, it takes more than one take to get the picture right. Sure, there are some rumblings and a little bit of grumbling, but they all do it because it makes me happy. Which, if you ask me, is the ultimate embodiment of what the holidays should be about. Even if you are zombies. Or last year, as Jedi.

‘Tis the season everyone! xo”

dog dressed as a jedi
Courtesy of Melanie Forstall

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Melanie Forstall of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. You can follow her journey on Instagram here and Facebook here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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