What do I love best about holiday photo cards? I love the bad ones. Now that may seem like a funny thing to say and I admit it isn't what most households want to hear when you tell them that you loved their cards, but there it is. I LOVE terrible Christmas cards.

But what makes a Christmas or Holiday photo card so magnificently terrible as to earn my affections? They come in a few different flavors.

Flavor one. the 'we tried way to hard card'

These Christmas cards usually have a story to them and they usually involve those off blue colored backgrounds you find in old-school mall photography centers. They usually involve mom and dad hauling the kids out  en masse, spraying their hair down with foul smelling hairspray, and frantically combing as the kids fight and the younger ones get red faced and full of tantrum eyes (I remember, it wasn't so long that I was making that face). Mom or dad works so hard to get everyone together, with a real photographer, looking their best, and the result is a resentful, artificial, half-hearted image that crowns a Christmas card that rightly has its place in my heart. Only a real, breathing, fuming, loving family could create such a card.

Flavor two. the 'I'm an artist' card

Sometimes when mom is at home for far too long she starts to get ideas. These ideas may turn out to be a trip to the mall like the one described above, but other times they may take a different form, and the mom ends up going to one of the manifold self help holiday Photo cards creators online. The result is rather amusing. Because so many of our pictures are stored online in low density format the picture, when it is printed and mailed, tends to be a little blurred and just off-focus. It could be good, but the execution is bad. Meanwhile a terrible pattern is selected, horribad embellishments, and the end result comes off like a mixed up soup. I approve. I so approve of any expression of the hectic life we live and our best attempts. My second favorite.

Flavor three. the candid card

Some parents give up going for the perfect picture, and they keep their photos on their computers for better upload. But these parents, with a little self humor, go ahead and pick the funniest, least staged, least formal photos. Kids with a finger up their nose. Dad and his daughter asleep on the couch in pajamas. Mom with curlers in her hair. The son who got into the makeup drawer... These shots are the most human, the most effacing, the most wonderful of all and every year they deserve our highest praise and the most central spot on our refrigerators, for Christmas is a time for family and no family I've ever met is even nearly perfect.