I love receiving Christmas cards. In fact, I leave the pictures up all year long because it makes my heart happy to be reminded that I have such great people in my life. But for anyone looking for our Christmas card to arrive, I have a confession to make.
It’s not gonna happen this year.
You’d think it wouldn’t be that difficult to assemble my family for a quick photo in a fall or winter landscape. But you’d be wrong.
Once upon a time, I was the only family member who fretted over how I looked in a picture. The kids didn’t care if I whipped out the camera when they were wearing sweatpants, stained shirts and hadn’t showered in days. (Which was often the case because we homeschool.) They simply jostled, cried, stared into space or picked their noses while I tried desperately to herd them like cats into a happy tableau. The resulting pictures weren’t perfect. But they were good enough. Except for maybe the year when our Christmas card featured the kids standing in manure. That one got me in trouble with my friend Ali, the professional photographer.
There were even years when I dragged a comb through the kids’ hair and engaged a professional. Even then, perfection was not a priority. I can’t tell you how many times I urged pro photographers to, “Just take the picture. I don’t care how we look,” through clenched teeth while praying that everyone was at least looking the vicinity of the camera.
God bless my eight-year-old. He will still happily pose in a shirt he’s worn for a week with jelly smeared across his face and a booger in his nose. He is currently my favorite child. But times have changed for the rest of them.
Today, my teenagers make me talk to their publicist and sign a photo release before I am allowed near them with a camera, especially if any pictures will be made public. I’ve resorted to bribery with Starbucks, extra screen time and now gas money to secure permission for pictures. Plus, I have to give advanced notice prior to any family photo shoot professional or otherwise.
Which brings me to another significant change. My husband and I used to be the only ones with jobs. Now the kids have jobs, college, swimming, 4-H, church and social lives. And since I still have a job (two, actually) and have to cart them hither and yon to all the things, I just can’t seem to get it together in terms of coordinating a family photo op.
I was tempted to use a family picture from our fall trip to Disney World. After all, I dropped extra cash for the photo pass in hopes of scoring some nice family photos around the parks. But we look like sweaty Walmart shoppers in every single picture. And I couldn’t get past the image of my mismatched, perspiring crew nestled among all the pictures of perfectly fluffed and buffed families in matching sweaters. It was too much contrast for anyone, Christmas or not.
So this year, I just couldn’t get it together. And based on the looks of my collection of holiday photos, which seems lighter this year, I am not the only one. (That or we got kicked off some Christmas card lists.) Either way, I am giving myself grace and I hope you do, too.