A Picture Perfect Christmas

Here we go again. It’s time for the annual Fitzpatrick Family Christmas Card Picture.

We’ve been including a photo in our Christmas cards since the year we had a 4-year-old and an 8-week-old with three different forms of eczema, neonatal acne, elephant skin, crossed eyes and bruised lumps on his head from a difficult, albeit worth-it, birth.

We thought he was so cute we had to send a picture.

In the years since, we’ve taken our own photos in front of various fireplaces and pianos, had some professional studio shots, and tried to sneak in a few Santa’s lap photos before we boycotted visits to the big guy.  (It was the year we waited in line at the firehouse to see him and a kid in front of us choked on a peppermint, threw up, and in the confusion my son dragged our coats through it. We went home, did laundry, showered, and wrote Santa a letter saying, “From now on,you come to us.”)

My husband likes to chronicle even the dark moments of our family history, so we have a lot of pictures and video footage of The Making of the Christmas Card Pictures. Lots of pictures of my backside, as I struggle to prop up whoever is the baby, muzzle whoever is the dog, and keep dirty dishes from piling up in the background.

Some of these sessions are torture. We say cheese so much we all get too hungry to continue and we have to take a lunch break. 

Two years ago, we had just moved to Kentucky, so I loaded up the car with the kids and took them to horse farms, the UK Arboretum, and other people’s nicely painted front porches to pose. 

I made the mistake of asking the kids’ opinions in making a choice. The only ones that Mike liked were vetoed by Cary because her left leg was turned and appeared to be dislocated. The only ones that Cary liked were nixed by Jack, who was positioned so that a horse’s snout was growing out of his side like a tumor. The only ones Jack liked were the ones where Mike looks like he’s about to yawn, but he didn’t care, so we sent that one.

A year later, last Christmas, we still had not recovered from the picture taking sessions (plus we were still under the restraining order from all the horse farms on Old Frankfort Pike), so we waved the white flag of The Picture People at the mall. 

Photo studios are so hell bent on getting you your pictures fast, that they forget to ask if you want a photo where you all look nice. By the time I heard “Smile” and realized the photographer was talking to me, the four poses had been shot, processed and printed onto 150 Season’s Greetings From Our House to Yours! cards with matching envelopes. We shuffled out into the mall concourse, still dazed, holding our box of cards and a receipt. Mike was still yawning, Cary was still smiling, and Jack hadn’t blinked yet.

That card wasn’t our best. My husband is sitting down and we’ve all got our hands on him like we’re trying to heal him right out of his wheelchair. My daughter’s hands have song lyrics written on them in ink, and I have infected cuticles.

I’m determined I’m not going to let the Christmas picture taking session sneak up on me this year. This weekend I’m getting out the Santa hats and Neosporin and we’re going to Jessamine County.  I hear someone there has a bitchin’ piano we can stand in front of.