Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wouldn't It Be Nice If They Were All In a Good Mood at the Same Time?

December 15, 2010

It would be especially nice if they were all in good moods when it was time to take the Christmas card picture, right? It seems this year, that was setting the bar a little high. The first photo shoot was rained out. Not literally. I think it was tears of frustration. Some of them were crying, too. I had given them forewarning the day before that I was taking pictures so that they wouldn't roll their eyes on me if I sprung it on them at the last minute. It didn't work. I mean, they know I'm going to take pictures if there's an event involved--choir, drama, robotics--and they humor me. But when I create my own event--family Christmas pictures--it's somehow met with more resistance. Everyone was busy, no one could find the right thing to wear, they didn't want to walk over to the park...there were histrionics involved. My husband gently suggested I put it off for another day just as I was reluctantly deciding to throw in the towel.

A few days later, we tried again. Two out of the three were pretty cooperative this time, but the third was under a dark cloud. Look at the pictures--can you guess which one? I wanted a nice picture of the three of them to send out on Christmas cards, recognizing of course the irony of trying to manufacture happiness and closeness when they weren't, in that moment, feeling it. Don't get me wrong--they do love each other, and often get along. They can be remarkably sweet to one another. But this week--this week when the window was closing on reasonably getting out festive holiday greetings--they were typical brothers and sisters spending too much time in close quarters, and they were getting on each others' nerves. And yes, I know I should have just let it go, not bothered with Christmas cards, or just sent out New Year's greetings. Maybe I just should have baked them all cookies and relished the moments, rather than trying to capture them on camera. A good mom probably would have done that.

But you know what? I don't ask for too much. Really, I don't. But I do like a good picture of my children every now and again, and ALL TOGETHER, all at once, especially since Bree is likely going away to college next year, making this the last year they'll all be under one roof. So I was flexible on several points. Pictures of smiling children out at the park on the jungle gym? Okay, I can let that go. Inside on the couch. Outside after dark. We'll make it work. Matching clothes? No, I don't mean identical Christmas sweaters; I just mean the same color. No? Too much to ask for? Okay, let's just try not to clash. I'll settle for solid colors that can reasonably co-exist. (Yes, I should have been more specific. NOT tank tops, please. I know it's a solid color, but we are taking winter pictures, here. Outside.) Big happy smiles? Genuine affection? I know you love each other, but just don't like each other a whole lot right at this minute. I get it, trust me. How about pleasant looks? Pretend, if you need to. Aren't some of you children in drama at school? Think of it as an exercise. Try not to grimace--it's not the same thing as a smile, I promise.

So here we are: Lutjens children, 2010. We made it work. I did, and they did. And even though it was a bit of a chore, we'll look back on these pictures later in life and smile and laugh, and maybe even remember the story behind it.

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