As the year passes and we get closer to the holidays, I put on my rose-colored glasses and think this is the year I get my magical Santa picture from the kids. The one with their cheeks glowing, a wistful excitement beginning to bubble in their eyes, which are looking straight at the camera, and a joyful smile that tells their whole personalities in just 1 look. Boy, am I delusional.
The kids are both old enough to understand what is going on, and by that, I mean what’s expected f them. I have coached them. We have practiced smiling and natural posing so they don’t look a) rigid, b) grumpy, c) hammy, or d) some ungodly combination of the three. They woke up happy and excited. They submitted willingly to grooming and didn’t complain about my clothing choices. We were ready.
Yeah, right. We marched right up to Santa, all set to do our duty, and I pulled out my camera to get some extra shots alongside the photographer. OK, 1, 2, 3… oh my lands. Sabrina started right in on the sideways eyes and Sammy? Well, his backbone turned into spaghetti and his face, well, you remember that episode of Friends where we learned Chandler couldn’t take a picture to save his life because his face would contort into some rigor-mortised agony every time the camera would click? I thought this was Chris’s lot in life, but it appears it’s genetic. Sammy’s eyebrows tried to climb right off his forehead and his mouth spread out over his entire face like it was going to melt into his ears. I cannot understand it.
I had the photographer do 3 groups of shots, and I picked the last one because it looked best on screen, but once I got the printout (and paid) I saw sideways eyes on both kids, and it just wasn’t good. I was so disappointed.
I took the kids to a toy store to chill out a bit while I stewed. Could I live with this picture, a moment of life captured for memory just as it is? Would I wax nostalgic year after year and proclaim it my favorite ever because it showed who they were right then? No. Just no, that is a bunch of hooey and I don’t want a stinky picture on my mantle for a whole year, so no. I marched them back. And yes, I was willing (begrudgingly) to pay again to get it right.
We did a couple more sets and got a better result (and they didn't make me pay twice, so hooray for Santa's elves). I know, as I know every year after the fact, that I’m never going to get that perfect picture. I’m not even sure how I got into this Santa photo game in the first place. It wasn’t something I dreamed about my future children. But somewhere along the line, it’s become a tradition, and as long as they’ll agree to it, I’ll do it. And I’ll finish up by handing over my credit card as I wipe the sweat from my brow because, gee whiz, that is work. And I’ll hope that maybe next year they’ll LOOK AT THE CAMERA IT’S RIGHT THERE THE ROUND THING JUST LOOK THERE EYES FORWARD FOR PETE’S SAKE. Ahem. Enjoy my children with Santa.
(Perhaps next year we will get a photographer who knows how to line up a shot.)