Christmas cards and I do not have the best track record. I didn’t send them out at all last year, nor the year before, if I remember correctly. There is a package of unsent Christmas cards in my kitchen that I keep thinking I’ll add in to the year I mail them out again, but that year hasn’t come.
This is the year! I bought a Groupon and so I have to send them out. And on that Christmas card I want a picture of my entire family. You see, my little heart wants to emulate the pretty pictures on the Christmas cards our friends send us.
Tuesday afternoon was the perfect time for family Christmas photos: the weather was still gorgeous and the wind had decided to be still. So after piano lessons and in the middle of pulling our Christmas decorations out of the basement, I had the kids change into color-coordinated outfits and then drug them onto the front porch.
Now, my kids saw the crazy look in my eye and were on their best behavior. They knew Mom wanted a picture. Little Missy helped me throw the Christmas lights oh-so-haphazardly on the bushes, G plugged them in for me, Baby Chickadee rearranged them in the spirit of helping, and then I went behind her and fixed them.
Then Baby Chickadee got in her go-to pose (bottom on the ground, bent knees with hands on the knee closest to the camera) and I snapped a few pics; then it was Little Missy’s turn, and she being in her shy stage would not do a toothy-grin but instead the cute and serene grin; then Hubby came home and as I ran in the house for something (lipstick?), Hubby took a few shots of a silly G in crazy poses; and with Hubby’s complete awareness of my crazy eyes, probably right as he pulled in front of the house, he went inside to change into his outfit that color-coordinated with the rest of us.
I don’t have a tripod. I don’t even have a real camera. The only thing I had was a self-timer app that I had downloaded an hour before the pictures. So with my old-ish camera phone and a “tripod” of old cardboard box on the front yard fire pit, I arranged my family, pushed the self-timer button, and ran to be with them.
First picture: blurry.
Here’s the thing about my crazy eyes: sometimes it bonds the kids. Sometimes it doesn’t and instead they gripe at each other with the frustration they’re feeling from me, but sometimes they bond with each other during my times of manically trying to get a task accomplished, and Tuesday was one of those days. So as the light was fading and the opportunity for the perfectly casual family pic was slipping away, my kids were giggling with each other, squeezing each other too hard, and pulling each other from the center of the frame. And it’s hard to get on your kids’ cases when they’re acting all sweet like that, you know?
Page 2 of 2 - Anyway, second picture: my grimaced face as I leaned into the shot. Another no.
Then we pulled the perfectly haphazard lights from the bushes and put them in the kids’ arms and took a shot that way. As we looked at the picture Little Missy said, “Mmmm, looks more like a Halloween picture.” Which it exactly did.
And then the golden light outside was officially over. The attempt on the bench on our hallway didn’t go any better.
Flipping through the photos later I found a shot I’d forgotten I’d taken with the kids hugging each other and looking up at the camera. G’s head takes over the frame and you can barely see the short Baby Chickadee, but they’re all smiling and there are even some Christmas lights in the back corner. So that’s the picture.
Someday a Fox Family Christmas pic will happen. Someday.
Erin Fox is a busy wife and mother of three. She is a weekly columnist for the Times- Gazette.