Thursday, November 13, 2008

Holiday Card

Ah, the Holiday card picture. I doubt there's a person under the age of forty who hasn't been made to pose for one at some point in their lives. I've had to do so for thirty years now (my siblings and I hoped it would end when we started having our own kids, but it has just been made into an opportunity to get even more people to stand still and smile for the camera.)

When we were kids, the pictures usually featured some sort of celebrity along with the four of us. We cornered Ted Kennedy in the halls of the Senate while visiting our nation's capital, found an all too eager Indiana Jones impersonator in Disney World, convinced heavy weight boxing champion Buster Douglas sit with us after a training session, posed with a guy who looked like Abe Lincoln, and so on--you get the picture.

As we got older, the celebrities dwindled, but the pain of posing remained. We were told to stand next to eachother and smile at graduations, weddings, and funerals. One year we were given colorful scarves and hats from the Gap to wear and told to hold on to a strand of Christmas lights as if the camera caught us on the way to hanging five feet of twinkling Christmas cheer on the front of the house. It wasn't until the first round of cards was sent out that a friend pointed out the price tags that were hanging off of our scarves because none of us had thought to take them off as we were being made merry. My mom spent the day removing the scarf tags by cutting the bottoms off of the reamining cards.

My oldest brother reached the breaking point first and lead a revolt (which he is still leading to this day) against the Christmas card picture, which resulted in yet another mutilated card. All my poor mother wanted was a nice family photo. What she got was a picture in which each of her rotten kids was stealthily giving her the bird. The bird was tastefully done, though--perhaps an arm around a sibling that that partially hid what was going on, perhaps a lone finger sticking out of the pocket, perhaps a hint of something in the shadows. To the best of my knowledge no one even noticed it until we finally pointed it out to my mom who, once again, spent the day cutting middle fingers off the bottom of the unsent cards (all the while day dreaming about cutting off four real ones, I'm sure). Now that he's almost two years shy of thirty, my brother wages a more passive protest-- He arrives an hour late for the family photo, sets his timer for thirty seconds, and is out of there when the alloted time is up, whether the camera has had time to focus or not. He has his own kid to pose now, as do I.

Flash forward to present day: The day was warm, the sun was shining, and we were at Duke Gardens, where the leaves had begun to fall and the autumn flowers were in bloom. The conditions were just right to take a Christmas card picture. Steve and I didn't have the idea until we got there, though, and realized Addison had a snotty face and Ella was clad in an Ella Outfit--a purple shirt, brown knee length pants over top of rainbow striped tights, and sparkly gold shoes. And they were wired--even more so than usual. Oh, well.

As we walked around the gardens, Steve and I saw dozens of other families taking their holiday card pictures. Children in cordory and starched white shirts sat with their arms around each other. They were smiling and no one was putting anyone else in a headlock. Other families had found someone else to take their picture while mom, dad, and the gang posed playfully in a pile of leaves. Sigh. I knew such a picture was not in the cards (literally) for us, but God help us, we tried anyway. Ella stood still; Addison ran. Ella struck a pose; Addison hid behind a tree. Ella smiled for the camera; Addison foamed at the mouth when we grabbed her kicking and screaming body and tried sitting her down next to Ella.

Steve tied down Addison, and I tried sprinkling leaves from above so as to give the impression that they were magically falling all around my perfect family on this perfect fall day. Rather than making a whimsical backround for my card, my sprinkling only gave the children the idea of throwing fist fulls of wet leaves at me.

We finally got Ella to lay down in the leaves (thereby disguising the bottom half of her overly merry outfit) and convinced Addison it wold be fun to sit on top of her. It worked, but Addison was more interested in jumping on her sister and plucking leaves out of Ella's hair than looking at the camera. When Addison rolled off and took off running toward campus and Ella started throwing leaves again, we finally gave up moved out of the way so that the family in matching red velvet pants and patent leather shoes could have some leaves to sit in while they smiled nicely for the camera.

2008 Holiday Card Photo Shoot

2007 Holiday Card Photo Shoot, which didn't go any better


  1. Christmas Card Picture memories from Amy's oldest brother:

    Family photo with Ted Kennedy (taken before the children were aware that he had killed a woman via vehicular manslaughter)

    Hannibal MO with Abe Lincoln impersonator (liked the impersonator, who seemed to enjoy Ben and my General Douglas MacArthur style corn cob pipes; however cut off jeans ala Tom Sawyer!? No thank you..)

    Rock band photo in Florida. That was actually pretty fun.

    Notre Dame Tunnel. A nice experience nearly ruined by posing for a family holiday photo instead of running around the stadium like all the other kids.

    Monk Malloy. A nice, awkward picture with a nice, awkward man.

    Williamsburg: This was a fun vacation-nothing says colonial Williamsburg like a family picture in 3 corner hats, flutes drums, and of course a couple of colonial era Cleveland Cavaliers t-shirts-hooray for the 1700's!

  2. Addendum: It's in our blood.

    In college I got the disease and sent out my own card from myself and Phil Donahue, whom I found in a crowd at a Notre Dame pep rally. Two years ago I got a card in the mail featuring my sister with her arm around Ralphy from A Christmas Story.

  3. Absolutely perfect. I love your perserverance ;-) I also can't believe how much the girls have changed in one year! Wow...

  4. Ok I just peed my pants I was laughing so hard! Maybe this year I can pose with my urologic surgeon prior to my bladder sling operation.....! Another awesome just barely. Thanks for making my day.

  5. Oh, you naughty children! Giving your mother the bird on our Christmas card photo. How about the year we superimposed Abby because she wasn't home for the picture.

    I can only hope that our little Mikey will give his father, Ebenizer Scrooge, just as much fun posing for pictures. xo mom

  6. Having only one barely older sister, our mom used to dress us up in matching outfits, then take pictures of us, as if we were twins. Luckily, that ended when my sister started receiving issues of Vogue when she was 5.

  7. Oh, we were made to wear matching outfits, as well. Ours usually involved some sort of seasonally themed appliqued sweatshirts. Unlike making them take a Holiday card photo, this is one tradition I'm definitely NOT inflicting upon my children.

  8. Too funny. We always had to take pictures in matching outfits, too. Why did everyone think this was such a good idea?

  9. I remember one year we had our picture taken with Jim Trafficant for our christmas card. The caption read, "Uncle Jim and the girls.".....Is he still in jail?!?!?!

  10. Ewwww... Uncle Jim? That's totally gross. Like the skeevy relative with bad hair whom no one wants to hug. Why did we always have to make these people our relatives???