Photo by Alison Hathaway, Red Shoes Photography
Team Kennett takes Christmas cards quite seriously. Always have, always will. It hit me over the summer that with Crosby’s due date being December 3rd, there was no way I could possibly lose all of my baby weight, take family photos, and have cards designed, produced and in the mail in time for her to be a part of our Christmas card. So I decided our card would just have to include Chip, Joe and me, but professional pregnancy photos kind of creep me out, and there was no way of hiding the fact I was wicked pregnant. So, me being me with my warped sense of humor, I finally landed on the idea that our card needed to poke fun at my belly.
Again, searching for that piece of inspiration, it hit me one day when my iPod was on shuffle and Robert Earl Keene’s “Merry Christmas from the Family” came on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P37xPiRz1sg Chip, sharing my same sense of humor, LOVED the idea of our Christmas card photo being a play on Robert Earl’s holiday favorite, and it all went downhill from there.
We discussed props and outfits for a solid four to five months in preparation. We just needed to find the proper photographer. You know, someone who would really get into this with us and appreciate what we were doing. I think we took this decision more seriously than we would finding the right surrogate to carry our child. We invited Ginny and Clete Johnson over to dinner one night and after the perfect amount of bourbon and wine had been consumed, we asked them if they would do us the honor of shooting our Christmas card picture. After they stopped laughing, they said they were in, so we scheduled a date and time for the magic to occur.
A week later, we received Chip’s diagnosis. The following morning Chip said, “We can still do our Christmas card, right?” Well, hell yeah we can!! I so loved where his head was and besides, we ain’t right.
When I was pregnant with Joe and people asked Chip or me if we wanted a boy or girl, instead of giving the PC “healthy baby” response, we both unapologetically responded with BOY! Why? Well, boys are easy. They are a simple sex. They are sort of like dogs. You can pet them any which way, and they love it. Their needs are few and their emotions are in check. Clothes are easy, toys are easy, coming of age is easy, and decorating for them is easy. Basically, I love being a boy mama. Once again with this pregnancy, we both hoped for another boy.
When we told Joe we were pregnant, he flung himself on the floor Days of Our Lives-style and repeatedly wailed, “No, only me! Only me!” There was no doubt he fully understood what we had just told him. After several weeks, he slowly adjusted to the news, and we started to talk to him more about the baby and him being a big brother. Every time we brought up the baby’s sex, he insisted there was a girl baby in my belly. It didn’t matter who asked him, he never waivered from girl. Chip and I were still holding out for a little boy though. At my 20-week sonogram, the doctor confirmed Joe was right and we were indeed having a little girl. I started crying right then and there. Again, I sweat the small things. Chip kept telling me it was going to be ok, but I continued to cry for the better part of two days.
You see, girls are like cats. We have to be stroked JUST right in order for us to respond. Girls have periods, bad bangs in 6th grade, low self-esteem, body issues, and … I can barely type it much less say it aloud … WEDDINGS! Oh, I pray Crosby comes to us one day and tells us she has eloped. I don’t know a single girl, including myself, who is mentally stable. Show me one. You can’t. We have issues; we like to talk about our feelings; we are an emotional sex. Friends, colleagues and family members tried to console me by telling me how CUTE the clothes are. What is “cute” about the color of Pepto Bismol or ruffles on the ass? No. Thing.
I decided to shelve clothing and how to properly navigate a daughter through her teen years for another day and focus on decorating the nursery instead. Well, everything I found was pink and had ladybugs all over it. This wasn’t going to work either. I kept searching and searching for something to inspire me, when it finally hit me while visiting Amsterdam with Mom and Dad over the summer. Vincent van Gogh’s painting of almond blossoms!! It’s my very favorite painting in the world. It’s peaceful, it’s inspiring, AND it’s not pink or purple. That was it. I had it.
Thankfully Joe was willing to share all of his nursery furniture with his baby sister, and I called on two of my extremely talented friends who had helped me with Joe’s nursery to now help me pull this project off. Nancy Twomey of Finnian’s Moon Interiors in Old Town, Alexandria helped me select some beautiful fabrics for custom-made drapes, crib bedding and a hassock. One of my dear friends and sorority sisters from college, Bethany Tompkins, is a gifted artist, and she painted her own modern version of Van Gogh’s Almond Blossom and made custom drawer pulls for Joe’s former change table for me. I love how it turned out. Crosby’s nursery is perfectly her.
Oh, and Chip and I are simply smitten with Miss Cros. I now love being a girl mama, too.