O’ Christmas Card, O’ Christmas Card

Today was the annual Schenanigans Family Christmas Card Picture Day. One of my favorite, stress-filled, 15 minutes of the year. ‘Cause if you don’t get it in 15 minutes, you’re not going to get it at all.

This year, we decided to take a crack at a casual, humorous picture. We always DIY our Christmas pics, but formal clothes and smiling poses always feel stuffy, competitive (there is always someone more stylish than you, willing to spend more) and fake. Last year for a professional photo shoot of both kids at Manchild’s school, I dressed Girlchild in her Easter dress,  did her hair in an elegant style, and went heavy on the hairspray. The pictures turned out cute, but they didn’t look like her. By dressing her up and making her artificially fancy, we lost the spirit of Girlchild, and failed to capture the real girl I live with and adore every day.

So today, after perusing possible family poses online, we set up the tripod amidst a sea of jeans and plaid. I had a pink and red plaid shirt, Girlchild a green plaid dress, and Manchild even had a plaid shirt under his train sweater, with just the collar sticking out. I wore my favorite red cowgirl boots, my signature footwear.  Look at us being casual!

Originally, a friend had offered to do today’s shoot in her wooded yard. But she was offered last minute free tickets to a crab feast, and every Baltimore friendship knows exactly what that means. All plans are off, until said girlfriend has filled her belly with delicious crustaceans, then we resume where we left off. Nothing personal, but at $75-$150 a bushel, you don’t say no to free crabs.

Our plan was to take the shot at 5pm as the sun begins to set. At 4pm a friend of the Schenaniganlets knocks on the door and hands then written invitations to come down to her house and jump in piles of leaves at 4:30pm. No! I imagine at the tiny, crunched up, leaf crispies tangled deep in Girlchild’s hair. Not gonna happen today kids, sorry. We reschedule for tomorrow.

As the clock ticks closer to 5pm, Girlchild and I address her wardrobe. She dislikes the dresses that are clean and in her closet as “not Christmasy enough”. We settle on a dress, and then footwear becomes the topic of our debate. I reject her pink tennis shoes. She rejects my red cowgirl boots suggestion (c’mon, how cute would that have been). Finally we agree on black dress boots. In the midst of that discussion, Girlchild looks at me and flatly asks “Do you have to be the one in charge of me?”  I honestly think she would have traded me in for another maternal option, had she been given the choice. Nothing like being replaceable.

So, we line up in the back yard, standing in position with a background of the mini-barn (which Girlchild has already vetoed as a good idea, and declared that this is going to be the “Worst Christmas Card Ever”). Now, Manchild has a very cute habit of shoving 80 THOUSAND types of handheld toy weapons in the waistband of his pants, then roaming the house looking for a bad guy. Except for today, when it’s annoying. Every time I removed a weapon it ended up right back in his waistband until I threw one on the ground, out of the shot. THAT caused the bottom lip to stick out and this small boy to hide behind a tree. Once Captain Schenanigans pushed the timer on the camera,  and ran to grab Manchild, Manchild takes off across the yard for the wood pile with his father in hot pursuit! The camera clicks, and Girlchild and I now have our own Christmas picture.  Just the two of us. I’m still smiling.

Thankfully, our friend hit her crab quota and called shortly after that point. We schlepped over to her yard and let someone else take over. My hopes rose! Except that Manchild wanted to hold a large branch in the picture, and when it was time for a picture of just the kids, he laid his head in Girlchild’s lap and sucked his thumb. Sweet, yes, but not what we asked him to do. Again.

Why do photo shoots bring out all the dormant Control Freak feelings that I thought Motherhood had knocked down and beaten senseless in the past 6 years? I don’t get it.

Anyway, at this point, only the Lord and Jen know if we have a decent Christmas picture this year. WE certainly did not achieve that with our DIY “creative posing”. It seemed like such a good idea last week. What happened? Oh yeah, we’re not the family in the picture online. Our kids are older, my body curvier, and the flat daylight less romantic. I’m pretty sure the little boy in the fake-online-family wasn’t complaining that his leg hurt, or running away from his dad. Oh well, they aren’t my family, and we are use to turning spoiled projects into funny memories. That’s our specialty. This is how we roll. Feeling less perfect than the online families you see? That’s okay, come and roll with us for a while. See how much fun being you can be!





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