Saturday, November 27, 2010
Would You Frickin Smile Already?
If it was up to me, I would not even send out a holiday photo with our Christmas cards. With Facebook and other photo sharing websites, I feel that my out of town relatives already have a window into our world that normally would be shuttered by geographical distance. There is nothing that this one photograph will tell them that they have not been able to figure out over the past 11 months of viewing my online photo album. But, my family continues to put pressure on us- to keep up this tradition of torment. It is a legacy of torture that has been passed down from my grandparents to my parents to me. I am getting that sickish feeling in my gut now as I recall our photo sessions at Olan Mills photography studios- with my curly hair brushed out vigorously by my mother into an unseemly, bell shaped bob. On any other given day, my kids will ham it up for my camera. As long as they are allowed to make screwy, laughable faces, they are all in. I prefer those expressions. But, on family photo day, they look like prisoners of a juvenile detention center.
I gave them fair warning that we would be taking pictures before we left for my mother's house for Thanksgiving dinner. It is one of the few occasions when they all are semi-dressed up. I reminded them through out the day to be ready because I wanted this to be quick and painless. One of the boys asked what they would get as a reward for cooperating. Reward, are you kidding me? Cooperation means that you escape punishment. But, in typical fashion, as soon as The Mr. and I started to assemble the children on our tattered couch, Princess Commando put on the brakes. I have never heard another human make such dead- on animal growl protests. Once she starts, they all get ornery because they know that what could have been taken care of in five minutes with good old fashioned acquiescing was now going to be an epic battle of wills. First Born Son was ready to order a Hazmat shower from being forced to sit next to his brother for more than 5 minutes. And, he kept talking to Princess Commando through is teeth while trying to maintain a smile for the camera, "Would you just frickin' smile already?! Don't you want this to end?!" Right on schedule, the resistance and irritation quickly gave way to tears.
Oh, surprise, someone is missing from this picture. H held his pose through it all. He knows that willingly participating will earn him valuable points. And, he'll become the favorite child for the day.
The baby looks concerned because this is what was going on in the other room...
Oh, the drama! The tears! You would think that she had been abused and beaten. I threw up my hands and told them, "Forget it!" Those words broke the evil magic spell that had been cast over them. They fled from the couch as quickly as if they had discovered it was on fire. I could not "Forget it" though. I was stewing on the short ride to my mother's house. The tirade of anger spilled forth from my lips. I suppose they have come to expect it, as no one even flinches at my bitterness. And then I wind down with a sprinkle of guilt, "I do so much for you. I do not ask you for much in return. Just one damn family photo where you at least look like you love each other. So, we are going to try again at Nana's house." They all grumbled in reluctant agreement.
But we did not stand a chance with my aunts and uncles walking around, interjecting criticisms of my children's forced expressions of love. "You all look like you are in pain," one of my aunts observed. And then, Princess Commando lost it when my Uncle M said to her (as I just got them all to look in my direction, mind you), "Let's see who can make the ugliest face," without the slightest pause for her to respond, "Uh- you won!"
I made one more attempt on Friday as our Day After Thanksgiving Thanksgiving Turkey was roasting in the oven. I know, I was asking for more trouble and heartache. They did not disappoint. But there was a small miracle. Princess Commando consented merrily. Her brothers were a different story. I am tempted to settle on this image.
But, I don't think my family will appreciate it. They will be receiving this heavily Photoshopped image in their Christmas cards. So, hang that on your fridge with your Mom and Pop Pizza Shop magnet, Family!
Now, I am on to the task of creating the illustration for the front our Christmas cards. At least, in this scenario, the children in my illustration all get along and cooperate for their mother.