Christmas greetings from the Slade family of Gilbert, Ariz., do not come in an envelope. For the past three years, the family has sent out Christmas videos on YouTube, showing that they’re not afraid to get a little messy or creative.
“We’ve been married 13 years, and we’ve never sent out a Christmas card or anything like that, and I don’t know why, but we thought it would be fun to start a new tradition,” Micah Slade said in an interview with the Deseret News. “So we did the swimming pool one, and we figured we’d send it out to family and friends … and I don’t know what happened, but it just kind of blew up. People started watching it and sending it everywhere, it went viral a little bit.”
The Slade family’s first Christmas video card in 2011 featured the family of six singing “Blue Christmas” underwater in formal wear and pajamas. The next year showed the family members each fending for themselves in a food fight.
“We used almost all expired or non-edible food,” Slade wrote on the 2012 video’s YouTube description. “The food looks good, but really it was absolutely disgusting, and the smell was awful.”
This year, the Slade Christmas video shows each family member with his or her ideal Christmas gift: animals, a full head of hair, order to the chaos, and even “Anti-Gravity Dust” that allowed the family to apparently walk on the walls and ceiling. The family pulled off the “anti-gravity” illusion in the video by using a gimbal room built specifically for the Christmas video.
“The whole room spins 360 degrees, and it took a lot of calculating and trying to figure out exactly how to make it work,”said Slade, who said the movies “Inception” and Fred Astaire’s “Royal Wedding” helped spark the idea of how to make the rotating room a reality. “We just researched a bunch of different ones, and then I made a popsicle stick little bottle, and I put little pins in it and made it work. I did the math to say, ‘Oh yeah. Sure enough, that works and that’ll spin, and this is what I would have to do on a larger scale.’ ”
Making the rotating room into a cozy Christmas scene had a few technicalities to take into account, such as making a counterbalance on the “ceiling” for the heavy furniture on the “floor.” To create the effect that the Slade family was walking on the walls and ceiling rather than propelling the room to move, a GoPro camera was secured to the room itself and spun with the rotations.
But beyond the logistics of creating and filming the family Christmas videos, Micah and Whitney Slade are glad their four children enjoyed the memories of making them.
“It’s just fun with the kids; they enjoy it. It’s something that they’ll remember,” Micah Slade said. “What we kind of envision is 10 years from now when they’re able to look back on all these, or even with their kids later on (and) that they’ll have these memories of, ‘Oh my gosh, we did all these things that you just dream of doing.’ ”
On each of the Slade Christmas videos, Micah Slade included a link to charitywater.org, which is a nonprofit organization that provides clean drinking water to people in need.
“We just thought … the most basic need that someone could need is water, and so although we’re not making a huge impact with it … it’s just something our family … really believes in,” Slade said.
Slade said he has some ideas in the works for next year’s Christmas video, but what the planning, filming and editing all come down to is spending time together as a family.
“We really enjoy just doing this as a family, and at the heart of it all, that’s why we’re doing it,” Slade said. “It’s just a family tradition … and kind of the byproduct is to lift people’s spirits, especially during Christmas.”