I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but if you are on our Christmas card list, we spent a bunch of time and money on lying to you. That family photo you are all complimenting? Totally staged. We only have to act normal and respectable for 1/100 of a second and it STILL takes us a dozen and a half tries to get it right. We’ve been taking portraits since the early 1800s and while the technology of photography has advanced leaps and bounds since the camera was introduced into society, we have gotten worse at taking pictures. There are photographs of pioneers that are more well-posed than the pictures my family takes. Back in the day they had to set up a tripod and adjust the lens exposure; they had to load up flash powder and their blinds – the whole time, the subjects of the portrait were patiently waiting for the big POOF of the flash. We’ve seen these pictures in history books and museums – there are children in them, there are animals, there are uncomfortable outfits. EVERYTHING we have! And yet, it takes us seconds to set up a photo and we can shoot a dozen pictures rapid fire in a matter of moments and we still can’t pull this off!
First of all, why do we make it tougher than it has to be. Put up your tree, sit your ass down, CLICK. We try to fit themes, make ourselves look more clever than we are, and contort our entire family into poses that have nothing to do with the simplicity of a family photo. “Deirdre, turn to your left but look over your right shoulder at Chet. Chet look back at Deidre, but don’t really look at her, look past her like you’re wondering what the future will bring – love, fame, security. Todd-Maverick, lay on your back in the fetal position – yes, like you’re crowning. Don’t worry what crowning means, I’ll tell you when you’re older. Tina-Sue-Bob, perch yourself on Todd-Maverick’s knees like the soul of a Buddhist monk who was just reincarnated as a Great Blue Heron and be sure you hold up the baby Jesus and your Furbee. Now where did the ferret go? Is he still wearing his onesie? Okay, I’ll just set the timer and grab my Stormtrooper helmet and we’ll be all set!”
We also put on clothes we never want to wear. If my entire family left the house all color coordinated, I’d gag. I once saw a husband and wife at a restaurant and they were both wearing the same Elvis postage stamp t-shirt. I made a vow to myself and to my wife right then and there that I would NEVER let that happen to us. And yet, when picture time rolls around, we are all digging through our closets looking for a red shirt and a Santa hat.
And you know damn well our kids never stay focused long enough to tell you what their names are, let alone hold a pose and a smile for an extended period of time (you know, like 30-seconds). If you were to see all of the outtake pictures you’d see a small child shaped blur sliding out of my wife’s lap and dashing toward the camera. Or a set of hands trying to pull the cat into his lap so he can squeeze her until her eyes start going in two different directions. Our older son can sit still with a (fake) smile on his face for days; his problem is inside his head where the wheels never stop turning. He’ll be thinking the most random things like a glove advent calendar, where you get one glove a day for 24 days, or a glove coat, gloves that look like coats (apparently he’s been thinking a lot about gloves lately for some reason) and as his mind wanders, so do his eyes. We have so many pictures of him where he’s facing the camera and smiling, but he’ll be looking somewhere else – not that there’s anything there where he’s looking, he just seems to have forgotten we were taking a picture.
So for those of you who received our card, don’t fall for it. We just didn’t want to spend money on a picture where the cat was getting shorn by the younger child who was about to bolt out of the room with a handful of fur in his hand, my wife in full-eye roll, me in mid-conniption, and the older boy deep in thought about how he could achieve making the world’s smallest pencil.
“I fell down the chimney and landed on a flaming hot goose!”
“You have all the fun!” ~ The Muppet Christmas Carol