I love holiday cards. I know some people think they are wasteful, but I love walking through the door each day in December to find a stack of red and green envelopes inked with the familiar handwriting of family and friends. The images on the cards inside tell the story of their year – they took an amazing trip or celebrated an anniversary or added a new baby to their growing family. After we open each card, we nestle them in the branches of our Christmas tree to enjoy for the duration of the holiday season.
Recently, I overheard my husband chatting with some friends about the fact that he considered family photograph day the MOST stressful event on our calendar. Could I be hearing that right? Surely, he was kidding. Stressful are the days when we have both arrived at work before we remember that the diaper bag/show and tell item/favorite naptime buddy is sitting on the kitchen counter. Stressful are those evenings when we leave the office with seconds to spare before after care closes and we become “those parents.” But family photo day – how could he think that is stressful?
And then I stopped to think about how this day actually unfolds. Hmmmm … I suppose it is not actually the romantic, dreamy, family memory filled day I make it out to be in the image I choose to send to 250 of our closest family and friends so that they may remark – “Look at that sweet family perching so naturally on that oak tree.” And it was in realizing that he is right, family photo day is the most chaotic day of the year, that I thought I’d share the truth about our holiday cards …
- I spent hours finding a red outfit for my son that perfectly coordinated with the hue of my daughter’s sweater. HOURS, people. But, seriously, it is the perfect candy apple red, right?
- My daughter is smiling happily in the pictures. You’re thinking how sweet she is, and she is. But if you had eaten 55 skittles before 10:00am as a bribe, you’d be smiling too.
- We changed my son’s outfit halfway through the shoot. Why, oh why, did I think this was a good idea? I should have known better … after all, it takes two of us to get him dressed on a regular morning. So, when he pooped two minutes into his costume change, there was no way we were looking back.
- I do not have on blush. You can ask me which shade because your photos are next week and the color shows well. And I will lie to you and tell you that I can’t quite remember the name but it is “that new one from NARS.” The truth is, I have on three layers of Spanx products and my cheeks flush when I gasp for oxygen.
- As our photographer instructs us to look lovingly at one another, my husband mumbles – “Everyone say, ‘Perfect family.'” And I laugh at the irony.
OK, so maybe it is a teeny, tiny, wee bit stressful trying to capture the picture perfect moment that will forever be reflected as “Christmas 2015.” Somewhere between the “say cheese” smiles and the abundant tears, we actually found a picture that reflects who we really are – not a perfect family but a happy one.