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Imperfections

December 19, 2014
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2010

I recently came across a Huffington Post feature titled “30 Perfectly Imperfect Holiday Card Outtakes” that immediately reminded me of my own decade of perfectly imperfect holiday card outtakes that I have been collecting since, well, since I began taking holiday card photos of my perfectly imperfect children. In fact, I have so many of these perfectly imperfect holiday card outtakes that I’m surprised that the Huffington Post editors didn’t contact me directly for material rather than bother with crowd-sourcing from their Facebook readers. While many of the HuffPo contributions made me laugh aloud, I knew, oh, yes, I knew, I could compete. You want outtakes?  I’ll show you outtakes.

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2009

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2012

Every year, come Christmas card photo taking time, I swear I’m just going to haul the cherubs over to Picture People and let somebody else deal with them. This holiday chore, which I once truly enjoyed, has grown exponentially difficult the more (closed) eyes and (troublesome) temperaments we’ve added to our family. But then I’d have to purchase the photos from Picture People. Why buy marginally better photos when you can get marginally worse ones yourself–for free? Besides, I’m the sort of person who does not like to be defeated, especially by her own children.

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2014

Now, when I suggest that I can get my own photos for free, I am simply referring to the cost of my trusty Canon 7D, long paid for, and to my labor. I’m not referring to the price tag of the emotional toil of this endeavor, nor to the therapy my kids may one day need for enduring it. There’s also the cost of couples therapy for the years that I mistakenly involve my husband in the outing. My spouse is the right man for so many situations, but Christmas card photo taking is not one of them. He’s got too much couth, and too little patience, for the roles I assign him: clanging spoons over my head to get the baby to LOOK. AT. THE. @%#$. CAMERA; jumping up and down while holding Jingle Bells so the toddler will SMILE. FOR. THE. @%#$.. CAMERA; remaining Christmas-cheery-cheerful as the whole lot of them breaks down and the five-year-old comes charging at THE. @%#$. CAMERA. That means I am often the one simultaneously hopping up and down, making deals through gritted teeth–if I get a good one, you can watch TV for the rest of the day/week/year/your lifeand trying to snap a decent photo.

While at Valley Forge National Historical Park earlier this fall with my oldest son’s robotics team, I got the hair-brained idea that a Revolutionary War battlefield would be the ideal backdrop for a Christmas card photo. After all, nothing invokes the misery of the 1777-1778 winter encampment like four boys between the ages of one and twelve trying to cooperate for a single perfect photograph. Indeed, what better metaphor for the Christmas card photo shoot than the dogged determination and perseverance of the continental soldiers at Valley Forge?

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2014

To make a long story short, I lost the battle. Friedrich Wilhelm Rudolf Gerhard Augustin von Steuben himself could not have saved us from ourselves. When I showed the boys the photos I had taken, they cried and begged me not to use them. I admit, I momentarily considered accepting bribes.  How much is it worth to you to keep these photos off of Shutterfly? Instead, I settled for the more ethically responsible and mature, “I told you so.”

A week later, I tried a new tactic. I told the five-year-old, who was largely responsible for the ruined shoot at Valley Forge, that he was in charge. I said we would do whatever he wanted, and I gave him everything he asked for, except the camera. So, on a cloudy Sunday morning, before the sun rose overhead and ruined everything with its bright, chipper light, I ordered my husband to stay put while the rest of us trudged out into the frosty backyard. The five-year-old wanted all of the brothers to pose like reindeer, wearing reindeer ears, on the roof of their log cabin playhouse. He wanted a Santa hat on the chimney. He wanted a singing, dancing stuffed Rudolph in the picture. He didn’t want nice clothes or matching clothes. Frankly, he probably would have preferred no clothes at all. To keep the peace (a.k.a. giving in to prevent tantrums), we went along with it–although I allowed the twelve-year-old to ditch the reindeer ears in honor of his pre-teen dignity. (The five-year-old threw a mini fit over this insult but eventually recovered.) And, to cut to the chase, I got the photo.  It’s not worth showing here because, well, it’s too good to be true.

I’m keeping the outtakes from Valley Forge to add to my ever-growing collection. Other than to honor the historical record, and perhaps to trot them out at a graduation or wedding some day, why hang onto them? Because they say more about us than one good photo that, by some Christmas miracle, turns out just right and makes its way to the mailboxes of our friends and family each year. Because, one day, when the wounds have healed and all Wii privileges have been restored, I hope we can sit back and appreciate these snapshots of our perfectly imperfect family enjoying (surviving) this wonderful life.

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2oo8

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2014 9:34 pm

    🎄Blessed Christmas!

    • twinprint permalink*
      December 22, 2014 12:24 pm

      And to you and your family as well, Judy!

  2. Denise Healy permalink
    December 20, 2014 1:44 am

    StI’ll ROFL! Your stories of your boys are priceless…and so true to life for all of us. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Betty peyer permalink
    December 19, 2014 7:26 pm

    Bless your heart! I always enjoy reading your wondering writing. Your sisters also.

    • twinprint permalink*
      December 19, 2014 7:26 pm

      Thanks so much, Mrs. Peyer! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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