The Otts are huge fans of Christmas. We are carols-in-early-November sort of people. We are tree-up-before-Thanksgiving crazies. We are Christmas-movie-watching, time-off-work-taking, family-party-going, cookie-and-hot-chocolate-with candy cane devouring elves. I mean it about the family parties—this year we have 6 days in a row of family Christmas parties, and we look forward to it all.

We love Santa—we still believe. We love his generosity, his bowl full of jelly belly laugh, and the mystery of his North Pole enterprise and Christmas Eve night accomplishments. For the past two years we have met him with the kids at a local bookstore where Mrs. Claus reads books, parents drink wine, and then your kids get a special 5-minute visit with him—and it is really him. This isn’t your typical beef-and-cheese-smelling Santa. This guy is the real deal—twinkly eyes, merry dimples, cheeks like roses and all. If you have lost your childlike wonder over the man who comes out on a special night, you must sign up for this visit next year. It will restore your power to believe.

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And of course, we love the Christmas story. We love that God came down to be with us, the savior in the manger, the little town, and the silent night. We love that a little baby—a miracle—is at the heart of it all. We love that it is not all shiny and clean—there was no room, the dirty manger, the swaddling cloths—the darkness is there, acknowledged, but that a star was shining bright. We love that the angel said “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Drive down your street to take a look at the lights outside, shining in the dark night, and tell me that the angel was wrong. Look at the gift giving and the generosity and the gatherings of the season—even the ones that take place in the most secular of contexts—and tell me that all the people have not been touched, are not being touched, right now, by this joy.

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Husband Wally is a designer and both of us work for an advertising agency, so because of the compounded pressure of our love for Christmas and our creative profession, when Wally Ben was one, we felt a special Ott pressure to really deliver on our Christmas card. And since that card, every year, we have gone through the agony of the creative process—the angst about starting, the blank feeling that there are no ideas, the heads pounding on the tables, the laughing at our own and each other’s horrible and idiotic brainstorms, the agony that life is over, the idea each year to just send a ripped out piece of notebook paper so we have nothing to top the next year…and then finally, the sweet, sweet clarity that this is what we will do.

We have been lucky. Every year, our card has been someone’s new favorite, and that is all we ask. Every year, it has done the good work of capturing a slice of our family at the time—an annual record of where we are at. Every year, we feel a simultaneous relief that it is finished and dread that we will not be able to do it again next year. But for Christmas 2015, anyway, the job is done. I have to say, of all our efforts it was the most fun to make, and we hope it shares our joy in the season!

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

I have never compiled our efforts to share our joy, so I am going to do that here. Watch us grow!

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