While a picture may be worth a thousand words, our family Christmas photograph this year falls short of telling the whole story.
Sunday night, after getting home from a busy day, which started with morning Mass, the ballet (No, we’re not that fancy, at least not me. It was my girls’ Christmas ballet recital, party, and more importantly, fund raiser), and picking up some gifts for our kids' teachers and groceries at Costco, we decided to take the family picture for our Christmas cards. We realize, we’re running a bit behind but there's been a flurry of activities over the past several weeks and, since everyone was dressed up, we wanted to take advantage (nothing like sending Christmas cards, the week before Christmas, I say).
So, after unloading the car, I wanted to take the photo as soon as possible before the kids started taking off their clothes and playing. I also knew the younger two were tired (my son having drifted off to sleep about 5 minutes before we pulled into our driveway) and our time was limited before the meltdown began. Our son already got a jump start on his meltdown after having to wake up when we got home. However, we told him if he wanted to watch Star Wars (which he had been asking to watch), he had to stop and, it worked like a charm (nothing like a little coercion to stop the tears).
Now, is when the fun begins.
While, my wife finished putting away the groceries (she doesn’t let me near the groceries because I don’t put things away in the “right” places), I started rounding up the troops and getting them organized in front of the Christmas tree.
My 6-year-old daughter had already taken off the pigtails she had to wear for the show and her hair needed to be re-pigtailed. Meanwhile, my son had taken off his sports coat jacket, his shirt was untucked and his hair disheveled.
I decided to get my son ready, since I am pigtail-challenged. I tucked in his shirt, put on his sports coat (which he inherited from an older cousin and is at least a size too big) and combed his hair. One down.
While, my daughters went into the master bathroom to fix up their hair with my wife, I start setting up the shot. I don’t have a tripod but since it is the Christmas season, there are several boxes that have yet to be put away that were perfect for setting the camera on. I set the shot; ready to go!
I look at my son and he has taken off the jacket, his shirt was undone and his hair was a mess. Here we go again. I tuck in his shirt, put on his jacket, and comb his hair.
Meanwhile, we are still waiting for the girls (and my wife).
I set up a small step ladder to serve as a seat for my wife and go back to check the shot; framing is still good. Unlike the past several years, this year, we wanted to include the entire family in the Christmas picture. Everything is ready; except, of course, the models.
I start getting antsy. “Let’s go!” My tone starting to reveal my anxiety.
I look at my son again, he’s jacket-less, uncombed and his shirt untucked. NOT AGAIN! I reprimand him, as I get him ready for the third time.
The girls come out… We’re almost ready. I start putting them in their places.
I re-set the camera shot. The camera’s set. They’re set but... still no mom.
“Let’s go!” I repeat, as I hear her walking into the kids’ bedroom. She starts reprimanding our older daughter for leaving her costumes thrown around and makes her go and pick up her mess.
That's it. By this time, I lost my patience.
“We’ll just send generic Christmas cards this year,” I blurt out, practically pouting, as I take off my jacket, sit on the couch and turn on the football game (As I was doing this, I realized how childish my reaction was but I had to put my foot down. This of lack of interest was ridiculous!).
My wife comes out. “It doesn’t feel good does it?” she asks sarcastically. “That’s what you do every time I ask you to do something and have to wait for it to be done on YOUR time.” (What can I say? I usually get around to things, just not at the precise moment my wife asks me to)
OK., this can go one of two ways; either I throw a tantrum like my 3-year-old, hold to my principles and get into an argument, which would definitely ruin the moment that I was hoping for, or I could act like a responsible husband and father, swallow my pride, put on my jacket and make this a Merry Christmas experience. I chose the latter.
When talking about marriage, a good friend of mine regularly uses an old cliché, which says, "Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?” The answer is obvious.
So, instead of an ugly end to a long but family-oriented day, we took the family photos and had a pleasant time together watching Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (I’m old school. So much so, in fact, that we took the family pictures on a 35mm Canon Rebel S camera, circa 1991, before Andre Agassi's Brooke and drug problems).
And, to put icing on the cake, after developing the roll last night, my wife vetoed the family shots because she didn't like the way they came out, so, we will be sending yet another Christmas card with photos of just the kids! Nice.
God certainly has a good sense of humor.