A few weeks ago, the time came for us to take our annual family Christmas card pictures. Every fall we take a family photo to put on a card we send to all my husband’s clients and some of our family and friends.
Any mom who has partaken in this tradition shares with me a common bond of blood, sweat and tears, and probably the experience of yelling at your kids to look happy . . . .
Every year we try to take our picture outside by a barn, a parked train, an old rustic fence, a rushing river — you get the idea. So, this year we found a spot in the woods, which is ironic considering in real life we never go to “the woods.”
But, we sure aren’t going to take our family Christmas card picture in our natural habit watching TV on our couch, so off to the woods we went.
I guess we like to create the illusion we spend time in the woods (or by barns or trains) as a family.
But before our trek into the woods, we must make sure the entire family looks like our absolute most attractive selves possible.
As a mom I don’t wear makeup much and do my hair maybe once a year, so just getting myself ready takes some real effort since I’m really out of practice.
But I don’t just need to attempt to put on makeup like I’m a Victoria Secret model and wash my hair within 48 hours of the family picture (which is a lot to ask since my normal routine is once every 4-5 days), we must also get our kids psyched about picture “fun” and dressed looking their best as well.
Just getting kids ready wearing ANYTHING in a timely fashion is pretty much a Navy Seal mission, but for this event we actually need them to wear real clothes (no pj’s or non matching combos that may or may not fit) that somehow all coordinate with each other.
But, of course, no one wants to wear what I choose to transform us into the woodland model family I want us to be.
“These shoes aren’t comfortable.” “I want to wear shorts.” “Can I wear my rainbow pants with my Anna and Elsa dress?” “I want to wear my hair in a low pony tail.”
This is why the U.S. government says they won’t negotiate with terrorists. There’s just no winning.
Of course, I could angrily force my kids to wear the outfits I’ve chosen for them, but I also need them to not look traumatized in the pictures, so I instead attempt my over-enthusiast sales pitch about how fun this taken is.
Obviously that didn’t work, so desperate bribery came into play. Thankfully the promise of a treat after the pictures seemed to keep things moving along.
Finally, through meticulous planning we made it out the door on time without anyone getting their outfit dirty.
As we get in the car I pray no one throws up or sits on any old squishy food in their car seats. Oh yeah, did I mention we love to do things the hard way, so we include our dogs in our picture. And guess what place is the most exciting place in the world for dogs and where we never take them?
Yep. The woods.
So, although my husband helped get everyone ready, at the point of arriving to “the woods,” he is solely on dog duty as I alone try to make sure our kids don’t fall in a muddy creek. Because guess who else loves the woods? Right, kids.
We eventually get all five of us and the two dogs to the same spot. Of course, our precious middle daughter told me beforehand she would take one picture. Yes, ONE.
Great, that’s only 146 less than we will need to take. So you can imagine she was a joy to work with while having her picture taken for 20 minutes straight.
And our youngest just turned two years old, so I don’t really need to explain anything there. She had 0.00000001 percent interest in being still and smiling. The only pictures where she was happy were the ones where she was eating animal crackers, so she either looked angry or had her mouth full of food in every picture.
And finally, there’s the dogs. Dogs are much easier than kids in almost all areas, picture taking being the one exception. In the woods, there are millions of things dogs love — a boring camera is not one of them. Unless of course a a squirrel was holding it (which I may try next year — any photographers dress up as woodland animals??).
Once the stars align, we’re like, “On the count of three everyone be still, look happy and dogs smile, and hold your ears in a cute way.” That’s not too much to ask, right?
So, in the end we don’t individually look great and settled for the picture where one daughter’s sad and one daughter looks surprised — but hey, the dogs look beautiful!
Once you start having kids you just have to accept someone’s going to look bad in family pictures, I just try to make sure it’s not me.
Please share your worst Christmas card picture in the comments because we all could use a good laugh!