Life is Lovelier with Lace…and the Christmas Family Portrait


Soon after finishing the bountiful Thanksgiving  dinner, the dishes are done and the adults chatter has been reduced to the resolution that current world news events will not possibly be resolved in the heresaid living room…it’s time for the Christmas family photo to be taken.

My memory is taking me back to circa, 1960.


My sister, my cousin and I have been playing dolls in my cousins’s bedroom. On top of her bed. Beside her bed. Possibly even under her bed. Or at least we feel about that rag tag. And suddenly it is announced that, ‘the Pearson family picture will be taken in front of their fireplace.’ Uncle Jerry will take the picture.

Simultaneously, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer will be on TV. And we have been waiting all year to watch it. The one and only time we have to watch it. Until next year.

My three little brothers must dress for the picture taking. Suits and ties appear on hangers, soon to be seen on them.


My older sister and I have matching dresses to wear. And our hair is amazingly combed and sprayed ‘upward!’

We are aligned from oldest to youngest, the five of us, sitting ‘casually’ side by side. Casually, with five sets of knees pointing unifirmly in the same direction. And then a BIG smile. Click. Click. Click.


There. done. I can hear that ‘Rudolph’ has started. Three clicks should be enough, I hope.

There is no rewind on this ‘Rudolph’ opportunity. We have missed the introduction – the singing snowman. But all is well. Whether or not the photo shoot was successful or not, only time will tell. When the film returns from processing. About a week’s  wait.


As insignificant to me as it was at the time, the family portrait would be held in dozens of friendly hands in just another month. December. The Christmas month.

And if, at all other homes – where the Christmas card and photo landed – it was anything like the way we received the same card and photo from them, it would be forever – from that day, historic.

You see, giving and receiving Christmas cards, especially with a family portrait was majorly part of the holiday.

We waited eagerly at the mailbox to receive these picture updates of family and friends. For many, it was our only contact with them. Once a year, at Christmas.


This tradition was maintained for the Ludvigson family for many years also. Coordinated outfits for the four boys. Mom and Dad matching. Then off to the photo shop to process and choose The One. The One, that would be held historically in the hands of others for years to come.

Multiple copies made. Boxed Christmas cards ready. Address list updated. First, sign the cards. Second, write return address on the envelopes. Address the envelopes. And finally,  stuff the card and picture into the envelope. Ready to seal, unless the Christmas letter would be added.


The Christmas letter. Hmm. Nostalgia now takes over as this letter must contain concise documentation of all that has happened in the past twelve months, for each family member. And that, without destroying any confidences, or appearing braggadocious. Who wants to write the letter?

This Christmas tradition has taken a dive in the last decade. Time has marched on, and now we can share the same Christmas tidings with a click,using social media.

As much as I enjoyed sending and receiving via USPS, I truly appreciate this aspect of the new generation’s paperless society! I have redeemed massive time and money! Let’s do it!


And as for Rudolph, how thrilling it is to watch, whenever I have time. Or, I guess now I must find a way to persuade the paperless society that Rudolph is worthy of our time and energy to watch!

As we engage with the red nose of Rudolph, the job choice of Rudolph’s elf friend, the plight of the misfit toys and even our sweet abominable snowman, we see innocently portrayed the value of every human being. 

So, I will continue to look for a reason to place my videotape into the player each Christmas season. And while doing so, heave a great sigh of relief – that I am not posing in front of a fireplace for that infamous Christmas card family portrait.


Life is Lovelier With Lace . . . 

Hmm…I think I will pull out my crochet needle while watching Rudolph win all his reindeer games!

With a Rudolph’s Christmas glow for you,

~Debbie Ludvigson

The Ludvigson Lace Lady 



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