The Christmas Card McNeill Family Christmas Card History

(Originally written in 2015)

Every year as I was growing up, my mother wrote dozens and dozens of Christmas cards. She had her address book out with names and addresses of friends and family that my parents regularly contacted. She'd go to the store to buy boxes of cards and spent hours writing letters and addressing the envelopes.

I guess I always thought Christmas cards are just what everyone did. We got seemingly hundreds in the mail that my mother would tape to the wall and it was then I knew it was Christmas.

In 2002, we moved to Spring Hill, Tennessee and spent our first Christmas with our two dogs - Rerun and Lucy - born that same year.

As long as I can remember, I've sent Christmas cards to friends and family and tried not to leave anyone out. I changed course a little in 2002 by making my own cards. Not willing to settle for the usual, it takes a bit of effort. Occasionally, there is a year that I simply cannot get them out in time to arrive in mailboxes by Christmas and there was a year or two I relied on a generic digital delivery.

By 2003, more decorations adorned the home... and the dogs. They were less than thrilled about making a picture for the Christmas card but tolerated it long enough to get this shot.

As I look through some past Christmas cards, I couldn't help but reminisce the different chapters of my life. Each one captured just a single moment in time but it's not hard to fill in the gap from year to year thinking of the jobs I had, changes in the family, and - at times - the burdens that I carried on my shoulders.

This collection of cards marks every Christmas I've spent in Spring Hill. It marks the birth of 3 children, the adoption of two dogs, the navigation of jobs in and around Nashville, and a journey through law school. It also marks the making of hundreds of friends for that ever-growing address list.

Reagan came along in 2004. With help from Jennifer Culp at 810 Studios in Decatur, Alabama, we teamed up with Santa to capture Reagan's first Christmas. It was this year that signatures were added to the card with paw prints for the dogs and a footprint for Reagan. Jennifer has helped every year since 2004 to get the family portrait for the Christmas card.
It's 2005 and everyone is a year older.
Then there is Garrett and an added footprint in 2006.
We introduced the front and back postcard in 2007 mostly because I love the picture of Garrett on the back. I couldn't NOT use it, right?
Jennifer's set in 2008 was Polar Express. She builds these sets herself and I, for one, think she did a fabulous job on this one.
Santa returned to the card in 2009. Reagan, by this time, could write his name so his footprint became his signature.
Other than the fact this was a fun photo session, Kinley is in the womb and her ultrasound is added to the signature block in 2010.
It's Kinley's first Christmas in 2011 and Garrett learned how to write his name.
Kinley was fine her first Christmas meeting Santa. Wasn't so sure in 2012.
Kinley wasn't so sure about Santa in 2013, either.
Jennifer built a "Frozen" set in 2014. Kinley LOVES "Frozen." Guess that's why she cooperated with Santa for these pictures.

This year marks the 14th Christmas card from our abode in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Unfortunately, it's Christmas Eve and I just finished the 2015 card. It's not going to make it to the mailbox this year. But pretend it did and have yourself a Merry Christmas!

The real Santa wasn't able to make it to the late photo shoot in 2015. Having some fun, Jennifer suggested the "reveal." Kinley first got a glance of Santa and immediately started crying for her daddy. Then she saw who was actually in the suit. On a side note, only one paw print is on the card. Lucy was killed earlier in the year.
Updated on December 19, 2016: Added the 2016 Christmas Card. Found Santa! The kids had a blast and, as you can tell, no more fear out of Kinley.
Updated on December 21, 2017: The 2017 Christmas Card is finally ready. Complete joy from these kids even knowing their Daddy is Santa! On another note, a second paw is added. Rerun died in April but we welcomed Piper and Aubie to the mix so two paws return to the signature block.
Created By
Shane McNeill


810 Studio, Inc.

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