The year has wound gracefully to an end and so we are come once again to that moment of reflection and summing up when I and my Not At All Nepotistic Jury of Family choose the Godless Atheist Christmas Card of the Year.
And what a competition it's been! First, perpetual front-runners and frequent winners John and Judith Clute in a stunning turn of events, disqualified themselves by using as artwork for their card a piece by Judith Clute entitled Penates. Penates were, as you know, the household gods of ancient Rome, which knocked the "godless" requirement right out the window. Further, the artwork itself, showing two stylized and overlapping faces reminiscent of shamanistic masks, was undeniable spiritual. Thus rendering the card shockingly appropriate to a season when one turns away from the material and reflects upon those things that matter in the face of eternity.
With the field wide open, impressive entries flooded in from a host of friends. (Allen and Linda Steele, as usual, comported themselves with a -- dare I say it -- steely lack of religiosity.) But then, right out of left field, Henry Wessells pointed out to Marianne and myself that our own homemade card was a leading candidate for the honor. (That's it above, with a gold border added so the scanner would recognize it.)
It was a thunderbolt. "I had no idea it would be received that way," Marianne said. "I just thought that the punched snowflakes would look lovely against white paper. And I added a light sprinkling of glitter." There was no getting around the fact, however, that black snowflakes against a featureless white strongly suggested a bleak and Godless winter.
But then the noble Jason Van Hollander stepped up to the bat . . . and walloped one out of the park. Not only did his card contain a welter of demonic -- some would say Satanic -- imagery, but it also bore the legend JASON VAN HOLLANDER ILLUSTRATION & DESIGN on its front. Suggesting that it was less a holiday card than a piece of self-advertisement. Nor did the wonders of the card stop there! For on the inside, Jason had written, "Dear Folks -- How Can A Christmas Card Be More Godless Than This!"
(That's it -- or most of it -- to the right. Damn that scanner!)
In any other competition such a blatant acknowledgment that he had cold-bloodedly set out to win the competition would have disqualified Jason immediately. However, in context, this only made his card more Godless and Atheist than ever.
With a sigh of relief (and a feeling of having ducked the bullet) my Blue Ribbon And Not At All Nepotistic Jury of Family declared that this surely must be the winner. That evening, in fact, I saw Jason, and assured him that, short of a miracle, he would be taking home the honors for the second year in a row.
And then . . . And then . . .
Oh, dear God. A dark miracle occurred. The very next day, on Christmas Eve itself, we received the card below from Rob Price. Taking no chances, he enclosed it in a second envelope and signed it with a post-it note so we could reuse it ourselves next year. As if we would!
The horror! The horror! It was a Christmas card so Godless and Atheist that his own wife refused to sign it. So, with all apologies to Jason, we had no choice but to give the honors to Rob.
The card itself is titled Sketch in Men's Room, Hotel Restaurant Gottfried Moos, Constance, Germany. It's available from Shutterfly. You can find their website here.
Above at Top: The scanner didn't do justice to Marianne's card, which was smooth white with a very light sprinkling of glitter and three elegant black snowflakes glued to it. A lot of work went into that.
Above: Are those two dogs on the left hitting on each other? There can be no bottom to the depths of this card.