December to Remember

By Catherine Bigelow

For years, a somewhat naughty holiday tradition in my family involved an annual Christmas letter from a dear, distant one who shall remain nameless. The Xeroxed prose meticulously detailed a barrage of minutiae from the letter writer’s past year. We’d beg our parents to save the letter until we were all seated around the table. Once the holiday meal was finished, we’d break out this missive for a live recitation, laughing until we cried. ¶ Mercifully, smartphone cameras and online DIY graphics have mostly pushed the verbose holiday communiqué into a visual realm. Whether these greetings announce themselves via elegant engraved Tiffany stock or boldly wave a Shutterfly vibe, the au courant holiday roundelay leans toward a mix of global gambols, family and darling doggies. Here are some of my favorites, starring men, women and pugs-about-town.

Dashing doggies

In past years, PR pro Allison Speer cajoled her dachshunds, Cedar (16.5 years) and Coco (3.5 years), into Santa suits. But for 2015, the darling duo go glam, dressed in matching couture houndstooth jackets from London.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Every year Protocol Chief Charlotte Shultz and her husband, former Secretary of State George Shultz, send out a glorious full-color, heavy stock card depicting this dashing couple in some cozy, yet snazzy setting. Once it even included faux California snow. For 2012, they dolled up in black-tie and raised a toast to each other. Inside the card, a centerfold shot of their Crocker spaniel, Stanford, regally snuggles in front of a glowing fireplace in the Shultz’s swanky Russian Hill penthouse.

Rolling Stones

Art collectors Norah and Norman Stone, devoted SFMOMA trustees, travel the world experiencing new artists and contemporary creations. And they share those findings with friends via their holiday card. In 2011, they posed in Brussels with a mirrored sculpture by Canadian artist David Altmejd. Their greeting was a quote by poet Maya Angelou: “Let nothing dim the light that shines from within.”


Melissa and Patrick Barber, with children Mason and Margaux, strike a rather dour pose in their 2016 holiday card. But that’s because they wittily chose to highlight their pug, Obi, dressed in a Santa suit. Their wink-wink greeting reads, “Bah Hum Pug.”

Native Sons & Daughters

San Francisco natives set the scene in the December 2015 holiday card from SF Giants Enterprises exec Joey Nevin and Levi’s HR Chief of Staff-Director Lisa DeVoto Nevin, who wed that January at Saints Peter and Paul Church in North Beach. Their classic EssEff setting features their wedding party posse of native-born San Francitizens—led by the Sacred Heart High School groom, and his bride, a St. Ignatius High School alum.

Joy to the World

The holiday card from Mayor Ed Lee, his wife, Anita Lee, and Protocol Chief Charlotte Shultz technically never changes. The card features beautifully engraved calligraphy and is adorned with an exquisite engraved illustration of City Hall. What does change? The card’s color, whether red, blue or this year’s green.

Santa Paws

The 2015 card from Fine Arts Museums chairman Dede Wilsey depicts her family, black-tie galas and, on the back, her trio of beloved dogs. That last image was a serendipitous shot. But one that’s garnered great acclaim: Her son, IfOnly founder Trevor Traina, had the dog image made into a small painting for his mother. “The ‘girls’ were at the vet for a teeth cleaning and the doctor texted that photo to assure me they’d survived the procedure,” Traina says. “They had a lot of teeth pulled that visit so this image is the last time they smiled with a full set.”


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