There comes a point in every holiday when you stare at your kids and think, "I don't care if you're having a good time or not. Just stand there, fake a smile, and let me take the darn picture so it looks like you're having fun."
Say cheese, children, and hold the whine.
Maybe you're sitting at the dining room table. There's the feast in front of you. The roasted bird, the candied yams, the golden crescent rolls; yumminess is moments away. But first Grandma takes out her Canon Elph and tells everyone to pose. The drool hits your turtleneck before the flash.
Or maybe you're the troll of the family. Somewhere, deep inside you, you still think it's 1950 and a man's job in the kitchen is to sit on his butt. But this holiday, for some reason, you get off your chair and dry a few plates. Everything's peachy until some cousin holds out her smartphone.
"Look! Grandpa's doing the dishes! It's a Christmas miracle!"
Dang it. You've just been uploaded to Instagram, and you're not even sure what that is.
One picture I'm not too sure about is the one featuring St. Nick. Why would you wait in line for an hour and pay good money for your precious angels to sit on a stranger's lap? The whole concept is bizarre.
When I look through my own photo albums, what strikes me the most is how awful I look Christmas morning. Seriously, whose idea was it to buy me doggie pajamas? Oh, wait, that was me. (I have a weakness for beagles.)
A lot of our photographs involve my children opening presents. That means you see kids looking down and lifting snatches of wrapping paper. Try to contain your excitement. These pictures are thrilling.
My favorite holiday photos are the ones that come by post. I love Christmas cards in all their photogenic glory. Show me your vacation to Maui. Wow me with your cute baby. Dazzle me with your coordinating outfits. Let me see my former students graduate.
In December, I smile every time I open the mailbox.
As for me, I like to send cards that express my love of reality. Last year, our Christmas card featured my daughter emptying a box of tissues and my son fake-barfing spaghetti noodles. This year they've got chocolate smeared all over their faces.
Having fun with the truth of ordinary living is one of my favorite things to do.
So bring on the bunny ears; I'm ready to look weird. But no way am I sitting in an old man's lap.
Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at teachingmybabytoread.com.
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