When I Said 'Say Cheese' I Didn't Mean Limburger

I just went through the trauma of sending my first-born son off to live on the other side of the planet. He is moving to Changchun, China, which, if you dug a hole in my back yard and went straight down, you’d resurface about two blocks from where he’ll be working. You would be dirty and probably on fire, but you could theoretically stop in and say hi, if you remembered your passport and still had your tongue.

Going from Florida to China via California is like time traveling, because you go back in time as you move through the time zones to earlier and earlier hours. Until you hit the International Date Line (which is not How You Doin‘ as it turns out) and then - BAM! - you’re catapulted 12 hours forward into the next day. I think the International Date Line is like a slingshot in a black hole, where you get shot into the future a little bit but only if you back up and get a running start.

According to my historical research, which consists of typing ‘whats the deal with the international date line’ into the Google search box, it wasn’t until 1884 that the International Date Line was drawn on the earth, and the world was divided up into time zones. It was all due to the advent of the railroad, which suddenly allowed people to travel long distances in relatively short periods of time. Before time zones, people just used the sun to tell their neighbors when to show up for important events and appointments. When people from towns far away started to come to the neighborhood rib burn-off ‘n barn raising, it just got more complicated.

“Be here by the time the sun hits the knot in my big tree. When the mosquitos come out, we’ll start the margaritas, and if you wait until your shadow is taller than the tallest guy in your tribe, you’re going to miss karaoke entirely.”

But back to the topic of this blog: Our Christmas card picture! Yes, we took a family photo for our Christmas 2009 card in August because it was the last day we would all be together for a long time. This irked to no end my kids, who claim that doing things early is against their religion, the religion of being young and inefficient. They worship at Our Lady of Wait Til the Last Minute.

We have a long and sordid past of taking family photos for our Christmas cards every year.

So last Sunday, we gathered everyone up and took a round of photos in front of the fireplace, then in front of the living room book shelves, in front of the palms in the front yard, and in front of the fence and plants in the back yard. Then we scampered inside to look at our photo attempts on the computer screen, disregarded all of them for various reasons, went back out to another spot, and took more pictures. Then it was back in the house to view them, and back out for more. This went on for several hours during the day, until my outfit went out of style and the kids’ hair got greasy.

At one point, I thought we had the winner. But a close-up view showed that the sun was shining on my nose, as if someone had found an old Jimmy Durante mask, cut off the nose, stuffed it with Kleenex, popped it onto my face and shined a desk lamp on it. Remember Dustin Hoffman’s makeup in Little Big Man? I was his ugly sister.

“We can’t use this one,” I told the kids as they pleaded with me to use any picture, even one of someone else’s family, just so they could stop the photo session. “My nose looks too big.”

“It’s fine,” my son said.

“No, my nose is too big anyway, and I don’t want a picture that draws attention to it.”

“Your nose isn’t too big. We inherited your nose and our noses are fine.”

“No they’re not,” I said.

After that remark, I completely lost any cooperation I may have had from the kids on the whole family photo idea. It was difficult for me to even get them to stand up, let alone smile for the camera.

But we did end up getting a good photo. It required some Photoshopping, to erase the daggers coming from the kids’ eyes, but it’ll work.

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