A special holiday ingredient? I'm not sure this is quite it, but one of my favorite memories of Christmas Past is one of the cards I created back in 1996. I remember the date vividly because it was the first year that I was sending out cards as a single mother. Up until then, I sent out various sundry Christmas cards with my husband. That year, though, was the year we had split and most of my friends were not aware of this because it had just happened, and I wanted to communicate the event without appearing maudlin. In fact, I was trying to be upbeat although inwardly it was difficult for everyone concerned.
I made the decision to save some money and to make my own cards. Based on an old joke*, I made what came to be known as Olive cards, and in fact, I made Olive shirts for the three of us, too. At least, to begin with, that is, because then the project grew and grew. To begin with, I dashed off a drawing of a goofy looking reindeer; frankly, it looked more like a moose than a reindeer. I tried to improve on my original drawing, but every attempt after was no better than the first one I drew, and most were downright awful. Finally, I gave up and settled on my first drawing and Olive (the other reindeer) was born. Taking my drawing and then adding a few simple words, and my greeting card was complete.
Then taking my drawing once again, I dissected it and designed sweatshirts with Olive on the front of them. Using an applique process, I stitched Olive onto the front of three sweatshirts. Surprisingly enough, my boys were not ashamed to wear them, and were even willing to have their photos taken in them. The photos, as well as a letter which started out with the sentence: "This is not one of those generic "everything-is-rosy" type of letter." However, within the contents, I tried to downplay the situation, finding humor in our lives, making the letter non-blaming, and ending with the fact that we were rich in family and friends.
But then the project grew. First, I decided to make Olive shirts for my sisters and my mother. I gave them their shirts as a surprise on Thanksgiving, and then they continued to wear them every Christmas for several years.
Then my store got into the act. My place of employment loved the card and the shirts so much that I ended up making Olive sweatshirts for the whole store as well as modifying the card so that we could give them to our customers. Under smocks and lab coats, throughout December store employees wore Olive to work. On Christmas Eve, when the whole staff was present for last minute shoppers, everyone dressed in our Olive shirts. It made for a fun holiday for all.
The next year, Olive the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh, a children's book about the little spotted dog who helps Santa, came out. Somehow it seemed appropriate. After the success of that Christmas, I ended up designing cards for our employees to hand out to our customers the following years, too.
Although I can't re-create my goof y drawing of Olive here, I will share with you the card's greetings:
(You know, the other reindeer)
From Olive and olive us,
Michael, Mark, and Nancy
From all of us, I wish all Red Roomers the same....greetings of the season; may you have joy however you celebrate your holiday!
* the old joke. How many reindeer does Santa have? The answer: ten (Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen, Rudolph, and Olive the other reindeer who used to laugh and call him names).
Causes Nancy Smith Supports
Doctors without Borders
American Diabetes Association