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Philly-area families send coronavirus-themed holiday cards: ‘It’s almost over!’

Many families said they felt it would be disingenuous to wish people a happy holidays or new year without acknowledging how terrible 2020 has been.

Kristin Everham, 35, of South Philadelphia, with her custom-made holiday cards.
Kristin Everham, 35, of South Philadelphia, with her custom-made holiday cards.Read moreTYGER WILLIAMS / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Kristin Everham creates new hand-designed greeting cards to sell on her Etsy shop each holiday season, but she didn’t think the typical sentiment of holiday cheer would fit with the dreadfulness of this year.

The pandemic has upended all our lives, and she thought that it would be disingenuous not to acknowledge that.

So she drew a dumpster.

Then she added some fire, and labeled it: “2020″ with the message: “It’s almost over!”

“It’s just a celebration that we’re finally through this awful hellscape of a year,” said Everham, 35, of Point Breeze. “It doesn’t ignore that part of what we’ve been going through.”

Everham said the dumpster fire was one of the most popular cards on her Etsy site, along with a cat sitting on a laptop with the words “Season’s Meetings.”

Others in the Philadelphia region said they are also sending out holiday cards that acknowledge the pandemic with a joke. One family described 2020 as the “Weirdest. Year. Ever.” Another summed up how they’re doing: “It’s fine. We’re fine. Everything is fine.” Here’s how other families are using their holiday cards to bring some levity to a time of year when so many are mourning loved ones and missing out on the usual traditions of gathering in person.

» READ MORE: Isolated by the pandemic, they created a cookbook that connected families, friends, and communities

Safety measures

Lisa DellaPorta, 31, of Roxborough, sent a card showing herself, her husband, Mitch Donaberger, and cat, Teddy, wearing masks (don’t worry, Teddy’s mask is Photoshopped), while DellaPorta also holds disinfectant spray. Angelique Jones, 50, of Downingtown, created a Grateful Dead-themed card for her family and wrote “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

Positive outlook, negative tests

Kerry Milch, 43, of Bella Vista, usually sends out a holiday card with family photos and a newsletter summing up the year. She wasn’t sure whether she should include one this year, but she leaned into it.

Under the “Pre-shutdown Highlights” section she wrote: “My brother Alex’s 40th b-day party, resulting in several guests catching the flu as a preview of things to come.”

Then she went on to talk about some of the good things that have come from staying at home the last nine months, including that her family could spend more time together. She also acknowledged “The Sad,” writing that her husband’s 95-year-old grandmother died in November. Though she did not die from COVID-19, the virus forced the family to hold an online memorial service.

She ended the newsletter saying: “We miss you! May your outlooks be positive and your test results negative.”

‘Joy in any way possible’

Liz Costa wishes she were able to introduce her daughter, Hallie, who was born July 28, to her family and friends. So for her family’s holiday card this year, she and her husband put Hallie on a plaid blanket, dressed in only a diaper, socks, hat, and open coat, with a line from their favorite Christmas movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, they thought aptly described 2020.

“2020 has been extraordinarily hard. It’s felt dark, and heavy, and isolating,” said Costa, 34, of Media. “It’s important for all of us to find a way to seek out joy in any way possible.”

» READ MORE: Each Christmas, this grandmother finds a new way to honor her deceased son. This year, she chose to record a rap from ‘Hamilton.’

Merry things

Kaliopi Triantafellou, 30, and her husband, Michael, 41, thought a lot about how to best represent the holidays in their first card as a couple. They were married in February, before the pandemic put a halt to so many other weddings. It was the last time they saw many of their loved ones in person. Since then, friends have lost jobs and family members.

“We know some of the people closest to us are not feeling especially festive,” Triantafellou said.

On their way to the new “Winter on Broad Street: A Holiday Light Spectacular” featuring Gritty as Santa Claus, on Dec. 1, they decided a masked-up, socially distanced photo with the mascot Philly most loves to defend was the perfect way to mark the holiday.

They added the photo to their card and wrote underneath: “Merry Things Happen in Philadelphia.”

“It just seemed fitting this year that our card would be masked up, also with Gritty,” Triantafellou said, “and have a little bit of Philly flair to it.”

A Hanukkah wish list

Lyndsey Fox, 34, of Fitler Square, asked her artist and designer friend Delise Barron to help her create a card that summarized her new normal — her divorce was finalized shortly before the pandemic — while reflecting the dark realities of this year. She also felt especially proud to be Jewish and wanted this to be her first Hanukkah-specific card.

Her friend drew an illustration of her with her dog, Stanley, and Fox’s Hanukkah wish list: “Vaccines. Democracy. Martinis.”

“In 2020, people are wishing for things they never in a million years thought they would need to wish for,” Fox said. “The wishes this year for miracles are just so much bigger.”