It’s that time of year when we attempt to capture the beauty and splendor of our offspring for holiday cards that will be delivered, with love, to our friends and family. But behind every smiling baby face and family photo is quite likely a tale of misery and woe in trying to get that winning shot worthy of postage.
Well-intended parents everywhere shop for the perfect holiday outfit that will inevitably begin the first struggle in a downward and ugly spiral. If your child isn’t screaming his or her head off during the wardrobe change, you are left to fend off food and beverage stains from the endless stream of treats that you will probably be using to bribe them into submission. You are now playing goalie against chocolate and juice.
Have you ever witnessed a parent or photographer trying to get a young child or baby to smile or laugh for a picture? The over-exaggerated funny faces and noises are enough to get someone committed on a 5150 hold in a psych ward.
Children, like dogs and horses, can smell fear and as your desperate attempts to bribe them with sugar fail to produce the desired facial expression, all your antics and high pitched pleading fall on your unhappy subject’s deaf ears. This is about the time that all hell breaks loose and one of the children starts to cry. You and your husband are now in a full-body sweat.
It’s not long before the unsuccessful clown-like behavior and cookie dispensing turns into mild threats. How did you go from promising ice cream to cancelling Christmas in a span of 15 minutes? You know you drank the Christmas Kool-Aid when you are shouting “Smile!, Smile!, Smile!” at your children like you have turrets. “Santa’s watching” usually works, but on picture day, all bets are off. It’s only 2pm and you see a cocktail in your near future.
You and your husband, who started out as an enthusiastic team, are now manic and totally stressed. You are only a shell of who you were 20 minutes ago when you started this ill-fated photo project. You start to reason, “Maybe he/she is tired/teething/sick,” to get out alive. And then you bargain with yourself, “Candid shots are fun but if the cheddar goldfish crackers don’t work, then we’re done.”
But you will rally and realize that you’ve come this far. Even if everyone is crying, you see the humor and you’re going to make it work. Besides, everyone has the same card with smiling children. Why not go for something different? It’s during this “Come to Jesus” moment that you get the smiles you were waiting for and a lovely picture.
So when you get those precious family holiday cards in the mail, know that someone probably lost their sanity in an attempt to send you a happy holiday photo.
And there was, of course, someone yelling that four-letter word………………Wine!