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Chandra's Blog


Entries in wedding (2)


12 Days of Christmas (Cards) Day 1

As my favorite holiday, I take Christmas very seriously. I have written odes to my favorite books of the season as well as my favorite songs.

And every year I try to tone it down a little more, so that I don't miss the magic in the moment. The first and most obvious cut to go should be cards. It's not like the old days--we have social media to keep us connected, for better and for worse, throughout the year. So why do I keep creating, sending and cherishing the dying artifact of the annual holiday card, preferably with photo, with or without letter? I wrote this post about Christmas cards a few years ago. But I find I cannot let them go, and I keep circling back to the idea that the series of cards tells the story of a family in flip-book time lapse style.

My mom saved every Christmas card our family ever received--she actually made whole albums each year of our received cards, and sent out over 500 of our own every year. (In fact, if your family was tight with ours in the 70s-90s, and you want a good archive of cards, come see what didn't get destroyed in the great fire of '91.) I can still picture my mom dutifully inscribing and hand-addressing and calling out commentary to my dad--"Did we get one from the Fraziers last year? What about so-and-so at the office?"--over the second half of every Thanksgiving weekend. 

Whenever I try to scale back Christmas prep and stop myself from making a card, I imagine our growing collection of annual cards that tell the story of our own little family over the years. I'm scared to miss one year in part because what might that gap say about our family narrative? For example, though 2011 was pretty shitty and I almost didn't care to capture it , still we did a card, if only to say, we're still here. Still standing. I don't want my kids to look at the display of our own cards and see the space, and notice what's missing. Maybe that is how all traditions become entrenched?  

Regardless, I thought as we head into the 12 days of Christmas countdown for this year, it would be fun to go through our cards over the last 12 (13) years.

Christmas 2000


Our first Christmas card was handmade. Not coincidentally, this was also our first and last holiday without kids underfoot. We had recently moved from Breckenridge to the town where we live now, and in a vain attempt to save my parents' marriage, had just started renting the house my father had bought for himself in anticipation of moving out. I was starting my own event planning company, and J was working for a venture capital firm, and we rattled around in too many rooms, in a house with historically bad ju-ju, with one dog and one cat, and tried to find our stride in this new chapter.

Back then, I had endless hours to handtie raffia knots on vellum overlays, and I wanted our first cards to be special, reminiscent of our wedding program, which also involved a lot of raffia, vellum, handmade paper and muslin. I was really into raffia and vellum. 


I love this photo, even though you can't see it very well under the vellum here, it had a little lift-the-flap feature. Our expressions, that rise in J's chest, as we exit the church on our wedding day earlier that year, look very much like we've sucked in a quick breath before diving into the unknown. In fact, seconds before this was snapped, I remember J leaned down and whispered in my ear, "Here we go!" 

The youth in this picture strikes me, of course. J looks like he is about 12--the kids can't believe the CURLS he had. But I also think with the gift of hindsight about all the things we didn't know were coming. Good and bad. When I see this picture, all I can see is radiating optimism, everything unfurling in front of us. I love this young couple, in all their breathless hopefulness. 

2000, the new millenium--the first and only year when we would simply be Mr and Mrs. Hoffman. 


Monday Musing... SHARE THE LOVE

Dear Readers,

  The newest book I am working on is a love story, something I dreamed all in one night while I was on tour in Santa Monica last October and had the window open so I could hear the carnival at the pier and smell the salt air of the Pacific. It is a departure from some of the grittier, more realistic stories I have done in the past. The story I dreamed is a testimony to the mysteries and transcendental nature, the incredible power of love. Very Nicholas Sparks. The trouble is, as I am writing, the reality of relationships keeps finding its way into the story. All I see are the obstacles, the challenges, the everyday.

  I want to be swept away by a love story again. I remember in the week leading up to our wedding an incredible giddiness, a goldenness, feeling like our feet didn’t touch the ground, that we were both the essence of love, in large part because we were surrounded by it. Everyone we held dear was in one place, friends from all corners of our lives meeting and mingling. Meals magically appeared, and disappeared. (thanks Mom!) My aunt arrived from Boston with boxes and boxes of lily of the valley from her garden packed in damp paper towel and its incredible spring-like scent filled the air. Every moment that I was not with J was bittersweet with the anticipation of seeing him again. When we were near each other but not actually touching, it felt like magnets, a pull to be closer.

We didn’t have to do anything that week except go through the carefully orchestrated steps of my dream wedding week: rock climbing with all of our friends, then sushi and champagne and dancing in the city for the girls while the boys went to surf and rock the night in Atlantic City, then spa day, and down to the Victor Café by bus for incredible Italian and opera. The morning of the wedding there was a fun run, and golf, and 27 May 2000everyone decorating the reception tables with buckets and buckets of flowers, and people fussing over my hair and makeup, and then the ceremony, where I cried actual tears of joy.

I remember leaving the church feeling like I had just taken a deep breath, that I was diving into something huge and hopeful. I love the photo (left) that captures this moment. And then I remember the weather clearing so that we could walk from our ceremony to the reception in a wooded path lit with fairy lights and luminaries… It was the happiest day of my life.


I need more of this in my story, to remember the love as I write this. I love my husband now, (see A wedding planner hangs up her headset) so fiercely. More than I did that day, more honestly and deeply. I appreciate all the things that he does, how hard he works for his family, the way he brings me coffee or tea just when I need it, the power of two. Every time the phone rings, I hope it is him, even if we have just hung up.

This week, he took each of our children on a special date—Hayden downtown to the DaVinci exhibit at the Franklin Institute, Max to Dave and Busters where they hit it big in the arcade and came home with armloads of pixie sticks and ring pops, and Piper, out to lunch where they split a trough of Nicoise salad and lemonade and rode the carousel twice. And for me? J speaks my love language. My favorite part of this weekend was Saturday night, while the kids were watching a movie, J and I worked side by side on our basement, him muttering curses and hammering in the subfloor, me painting. That’s modern romance, fifteen-years-in romance.

While there is no denying we make a good team, there is nothing romantic about holding up my side of the garbage bag while we drain the stagnant vomit water from Max's barfed-on linens out of the broken washing machine.


Here's where you come in. Here's the SHARE THE LOVE.

This story I am writing is about that new love, about tumbling into love, that kind when your feet don’t touch the ground. I need a little inspiration here. Recently, SheWrites and the Huffington Post Divorce editor ran a writing contest for people to share the moment when they knew it was over. (Incidentally, my friend Kelly Simmons was one of the winners—see here.)

I want to try something else. I want to hear from you the moment you knew this was The One. Celebrate your love story—flood me with the happiest moments of your relationship, of the 'A-ha, I want to spend my life with this person'. Or simply tell me the most romantic thing your partner has ever done.

You can share them by commenting below, or send them to me privately at chandrahoffman @ mac dot com.  And just so we're clear, if it's really good, you might see hints of your love story in my upcoming novel. 


With thanks and love,