When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The (Dreaded) Christmas Card Photo

Any parent who has ever tried to capture the perfect photo of their children to include with Christmas cards can probably relate to what I'm going to describe next. You choose nice, coordinating outfits for the kids to wear in advance and find just the right backdrop to help set a festive looking scene. You envision a moment captured in time in which your dear offspring are smiling sweetly, their arms draped in brotherly or sisterly love around each other's shoulders, in a striking representation of the wonderful young people they are.

But this is how the Christmas card photo situation actually goes down: Your children hate the outfits you've chosen for them to wear. They stage a full blown protest by refusing to get dressed, and when you somehow finally convince (bribe?) them into their clothes, they sit all hunched over in sulky misery and complain for three hours straight. When you choose the backdrop, an outdoor scene near a fragrant evergreen lightly dusted in fresh snow, you forget to take into consideration the glare of the sunlight. The bright beams pierce the eyes of your photosensitive child like daggers and have him squinting and writhing in every camera shot, while his brother engages in ape-like antics beside him trying to get a laugh. You beg and yell and cry and cajole and snap 548,982,347 photos with your camera, hoping that one, just one, of them might be passable enough to print and mail out, all the while knowing that the chances of this are about one in a billion. (Someone please tell me this sounds familiar so I can feel just a tiny bit better about my years of challenges in this department!?)

This year, as December approached, I found myself dragging my feet when it came time to organize the Christmas card photo shoot. I wondered if it was still necessary, now that the boys are older, to subject all three of us to the high level drama that was sure to unfold in the process. Did our family and friends really want or need a picture of the boys in their Christmas card this year? I decided that yes, they probably still did.

But I had an aha! moment late last week: why not let the fourteen and eleven year old boys take charge of their own photo this year? Surely it wouldn't be a stressful exercise for me if I mostly stayed out of it, right? I asked them to choose their own outfits, style their own hair, and even take their own photo, selfie style. They accomplished all of this wonderfully, and I was just about to dance about with joy and relief until I realized that because of their height differences, the best photo the boys took together had Will cut off at the neck, which he didn't really like.

People, I caved, and got out my own camera, and begged and yelled and cried and cajoled and snapped 548,982,347 photos hoping that one of them might be passable enough to print and mail out. There was squinting and writhing, and plenty of ape antics.

But that's okay; it was actually kind of fun. Some holiday traditions just aren't meant to be broken. 

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