By Fiona Jackson via SWNS
A retired couple amusingly recreates their friends' Christmas card every year - by posing in place of their young children.
Carol and Michael Whalen, 68 and 72, started the tradition after receiving a greetings card showing their pals' then one-year-old son in his toy car.
They have been remaking Ryan and Samantha Dominik's cards ever since - now featuring two adorable tots of five and two.
Michael said: "My wife and I received the original Christmas card, they had taken their son out to get a Christmas tree.
"My wife was looking at it she said you know we ought to replicate it - she has a red car, and I have a knit sweater.
"We just sort of re-enacted the photos and it received such a warm response from our group, next year we just continued the tradition.
"It was just something that caught our attention because we have three children and were still waiting for a grandchild.
"After we recreated the first one I commented to the group that my idea had been plagiarised by Samantha Dominik, and this became the running gag over the course of time."
The parents have roped in their eldest son Christopher, 37, who is a childhood friend of Ryan's, to take the photos for them.
Writer and filmmaker Christopher said: "I love the tradition. I got a real kick out of it when I first saw it.
"We're essentially family, and it was a real cute rendition for us all."
Ryan, Christopher and Christopher's two siblings all grew up in the same neighborhood, with the eldest becoming the godfather to Ryan's son.
Samantha, 33, said: "Mike and Carol have been like parents to Ryan, and he has lived with them on three different occasions growing up.
"They have always played a huge role in his life, and our kids are lucky to have a third set of grandparents."
In 2017, the Dominiks sent out an adorable Christmas card featuring their son dragging a tiny Christmas tree and driving his toy car.
One week later, Ryan, 37, got a text from Carol telling him to check his emails - and there were the images of Mike posing as his son outside their log cabin in Otis, Massachusetts.
Mike is pictured in a cable knit sweater hauling a full-size Christmas tree and driving his Ford Escape with the tree on the roof.
Mom-of-two Samantha said: "We all got a huge kick out of it and we called them right away to praise their work and laugh about it.
"The rest is history! Every year we mail our cards around Thanksgiving and we wait to see what they will respond with.
"It has become such a fun tradition to look forward to, and I always have them in my mind when choosing the photo I will take each Christmas."
Carol and Michael call up the Dominiks every year to check when they will be sending out their cards so they have time to prepare their own.
The Whalen parents have donned full-length Christmas PJs and posed wearing Christmas lights outside in the snow.
Samantha, an office manager, said: "Ryan always jokes with them that things are going to get more complicated this year, making remarks like 'I hope you have access to a hot air balloon.'
"I almost felt bad for making it a little more elaborate this year, and I even offered to let them borrow the cocoa stand for their recreation, but Carol was very sweetly insulted by my offer.
"They do everything themselves, getting nearly identical pajamas, props, etc.
"We were so impressed that they built their own cocoa stand, but not at all surprised.
"Their attention to detail is spot on and they always seem to top themselves every year, it never ceases to amaze us.
"They always send their photos to us with funny captions, such as 'we stole their Christmas card idea.'
"This year they undercut our cocoa prices and we all got a kick out of that."
Ryan added: "I don't think our two-year-old understands as much, but our five-year-old loves it as much as we do!"
Christopher thinks as his parents are retired teachers, they both have a lot of time on their hands for their annual stunt.
He said: "We're a family of goofballs, so it's pretty much par for the course. I think it will go on for as long as they're alive to be honest.
"Hopefully they'll have some blood-related grandchildren to do it to as well.
"I can't say I'm surprised it's gone on this long, but it's gotten progressively better with each passing year."
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