My parents had it right with their insistence that we take family portraits. 

The photos sat on side tables and lined the wallpapered hallways of my childhood home, and I spent a lot of time looking at them. Whether it was to giggle at my dad's evolving moustache or poke fun at my sister's toothless smile—they made me happy. 

Raising a family isn't easy and my parents were proud of the many ways we met the challenge. They displayed those photos (and still do) like framed diplomas—evidence of our family's success smiling at us from behind the glass.

JB wasn't easily convinced when it came to our own family. He didn't come from the same tradition and found it a bit overindulgent and awkward. We compromised by sending out a staged family photo for our first Christmas—complete with ugly Christmas sweaters and a pair of retro dad glasses—expecting to create some good fun.


The joke ended up being on us. JB had just returned to school full-time and, upon receiving our card, friends began calling and emailing to ask if our student budget had us shopping in our parents' closets and whether they should send food.

We didn't attempt another family photo during the years we were lost in the busyness of three kids under the age of four. Our holiday cards were of the store-bought kind. I included handwritten notes, but that was the only personal thing about them. 

After our fourth baby was born, I felt a pull to return to the family photo. The first time, it was just the kids. I took them out on my own while JB was at work. I planned to wrap one as a Christmas surprise that he could later put on his desk at work. 

When we saw this photo, there was no going back. Because captured in this frame was the story of our family's success and the love that drove us forward through our own challenges. 


{original photo by: Natural Attraction Photography}

Our annual holiday card is now plastered with our most recent family photo and I get absolutely and ridiculously giddy with the process every year: deciding what everyone will wear, narrowing down the final photo from the photographer, and my very FAVOURITE part...creating the holiday card.

This year we had a couple of hiccups, with uncooperative monsoons that washed out any possibility of an outdoor photo and a feisty three-year-old that wanted to take the photos her way.

But I think we're going to end up with something very special (thank you, Sarah).

It's been a year of incredible growth for each of the kids, and I can't wait to see it captured in a moment. 


Last week, I was contacted by MINTED—which features designs from independent artists and designers from around the world—and asked to consider using them for our holiday cards. There are so many designs that caught my eye, and I am so excited to see the photo that will help me make the final decision. 

The side tables and walls of our home are now covered with photos from the last few years. I catch the kids looking at them, and they often ask questions about what they were like when we took them.

There are some traditions worth holding on to, and I could not be more sure about this being one of them. 


MINTED would like to offer one of my very lucky readers a $50 code towards any design of your choosing.

Just leave me a comment below, about your holiday card or family photo traditions, and I'll randomly select a Canadian or U.S. winner at the end of next week. And don't worry if you don't have a formal family photo, candids work really well, too.

Now go...drool....sigh...wander around their gorgeous website and come back and enter.

Good luck!








Elan Morgan

Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works, a designer and content editor at GenderAvenger, and a speaker who has spoken across North America. They have been seen in the Globe & Mail, Best Health, Woman's Day, and Flow magazines, TEDxRegina, and on CBC News and Radio. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.