About 14 years ago my younger sister Micalyne and I received a letter in the mail that would change our lives forever. It was December and Christmas cards from all over the world were arriving at the McCann home, mostly addressed to Bob and Cathie. Micalyne and I were 14 and 16 at the time, respectively, and neither of us were in the business of sending or receiving Christmas cards ourselves.

That's why it was with confusion that we, together, opened what looked to be a Christmas card addressed to the two of us.

We were correct that it was a Christmas card. But we were also sorely let down because this Christmas card was from our dentist. It included a professionally-shot photograph of the male dentist and the many female assistants that worked with him.


Eli: Seriously. They must have sent out hundreds of these.

Micalyne: They look like polygamists! POLYGAMISTS. Surely somebody would have realized this and told them before they sent it out!

Eli: Maybe they think it's funny.

Micalyne: Even still! What a waste of time and money! Do they think people are going to hang this picture on the wall?!

Eli: Micalyne. You don't need to use reverse psychology on me. If you want the picture for your bedroom, I won't fight you.

Our general mockery wasn't really specific to this dentist. We liked this dentist and staff quite a lot, and still do. But this was a conversation we had sort of had before when we received photographic Christmas cards from dental and medical offices over the years, usually wondering whether the office knows that the pictures are always going to be immediately discarded by everyone.

Nevertheless, later that day I crept into Micalyne's bedroom and slyly stuck it onto her wall. It took a few days for her to notice, and when she did, she retaliated in kind.

This went on for weeks. And then months. And then years. And now, decades.

The picture has been imprinted onto t-shirts, pillow cases, coffee mugs, etc. Always with some cheesy phrase that includes either a dental or polygamous pun. When I graduated from law school, Micalyne made 30 copies of the picture and decorated my bedroom with them, including a sign that read "Crown-gradulations on your achievement!"

When I moved to Ukraine, Russia, and Palau, copies of the picture were buried in my luggage. Gifts adorned with the image were also sent over seas many times.

When Micalyne got married in 2007, I had a calendar made, each month with a blown-up image of one individual from the picture and a hand-written message from that person, like "I hope your new husband fills every cavity of your life!" and "BRACE yourself for a happy future!"

For the December calendar photo, I added a picture of Micalyne in her wedding dress to join the other brides.

Watching Micalyne open the unmarked package sitting in the middle of her pile of wedding gifts was one of the greatest gift-giving experiences of my life. Tears were shed. And both of us stopped breathing for at least 25 minutes.

I realize that it might be tacky to post this picture publicly. Because maybe some of you know these people. For years I have refrained from sharing this on Stranger. But I got thinking about it recently and decided that it was time. I want to reiterate that I think these people are wonderful and I don't mean to mock any of them. And I think they have a pretty good sense of humor anyway (hopefully).

Ultimately I decided that if I sent a picture of my office to a family and that family passed it back and forth and imprinted the image onto clothing and dishes and calendars and transported it to all ends of the Earth for the next 14 years, I would want to know about it. And I would beam with pride when I found out.

Plus, they should really know that for this most recent Christmas, Micalyne's children were added to the group.

~It Just Gets Stranger