The first thing I thought when My Lovely Wife gave birth to our second daughter in 1993 was, “All right! There’s four people in our family now. We can do a Beatles album cover as our Christmas card!”
If we’d stopped at one kid, would I have done Police album covers? ZZ Top? Cream? Probably not. Those images aren’t as ingrained in our minds as those of the Beatles.
Fittingly, my first card was an homage to “Meet the Beatles” (created with Photoshop assistance from my then-colleague Jo Ellen Murphy). That was 22 years ago. Since then we’ve done 10 more, including “The Beatles,” better known as the White Album and not included here because, well, it’s just a white square.
As they were growing up, my daughters would occasionally chafe at my art direction: Put on this turtleneck! Stand this way! Look impish! But I think they secretly enjoyed it. Flipping through the cards now is like watching them grow up before my eyes, with a soundtrack provided by John, Paul, George and Ringo.
Here are my Beatles-inspired holiday cards, in chronological order.
The first one, in 1993: the American release of the Beatles’ 1964 Capitol records debut, “Meet the Beatles.” In England it was known as “With the Beatles.”
“A Hard Day’s Night.” It was fun telling a 4- and 6-year-old how to mug like those lovable, Liverpudlian mop tops.
When I was young, so much younger than today. We try our hands — and arms — at “Help!”
There were two albums I thought would be beyond us. This was one: “Revolver.” (The other was “Sgt. Pepper’s.”) But My Lovely Wife, Ruth, rose to the challenge. She proved adept with a pen and a sharp pair of scissors. I think Klaus Voormann — the Beatles’ German friend and artist who created the original — would be impressed.
Five years went by before we got back on the Beatles bandwagon for our take on “Rubber Soul,” shot in front of a bush in our back yard.
Don’t recognize this one? Beatles scholars know it’s not an album, but an approximation of the cover of the “Twist and Shout” EP.
“Beatles ’65,” Kelly style.
Twenty years after we did our first Beatles holiday card, we put on the black turtlenecks and returned to the first album — but the British pressing this time: “With the Beatles.”
I never thought we’d do “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Renting the costumes, making the life-size cardboard cutouts, hiring a photographer. … My Lovely Wife had a better idea: print out a lot of little photos and cut them out. She peopled it with celebrities who were in the news or on TV or in our lives this year, from Pope Francis to the cast of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” from author Terry Pratchett to a Jayson Werth garden gnome.
This may be the last time we do this. I think our daughters have gotten too old to play along. They’ll be sending out their own cards soon. Oh, but how I’d love to take a stab at the infamous Beatles “Butcher” cover….
Happy crimble, everyone.