Don't you love them, too?! Especially the cards from friends and family who live far away. It's such a fun thing to open the envelope and be greeted with the smiling faces of people we've not seen in a long time.
I'm also a big fan of the "family newsletter" which allows us to catch up with major events. But there's nothing quite like that first glimpse of the newest addition, the family on vacation, the prodigious pets, the coordinated Christmas outfits..........
"Oooohh!" "Look how cute they are!!" "Good grief, those kids have really grown this year!" "Mmmmm, I don't look too much older than her." (Oh wait, did I write that thought? Smile.)
I've always loved these so much that right after Kristin was born, I launched an attempt to organize what I thought would surely be an annual event enjoyed by the entire extended family - the taking of the official Christmas Photo!
Both my brother and sister were still living at home and I thought the toughest part of these proceedings would be to get an appointment at a studio during the brief period Frank, Kristin and I could be there.
Oh the hardships of the young and naive! Smile.
I'll spare you the horrors of trying to:
- line up everyone's schedules;
- encourage the selection of clothing that didn't clash;
- ignore snide remarks about pointless pictures;
- endure the long ride with a screaming baby.
She didn't know how to reposition the camera for a larger group. Bear in mind there were only six adults and one tiny, crying baby. The photographer (and I use that term loosely) squished us together in an area designed for four children - max.
When our pictures were mailed to us three weeks later, I tore into the package, caught a glimpse of the first pose and gasped. Not in delight but in disbelief!
My tall dad was asked to bend down slightly in order to keep his head in the shot. Mom sat in the center attempting to comfort the baby and appeared to be wearing Kristin like a medallion on her chest. My brother's eyes were partially closed in every shot; giving him the appearance of a teen alcoholic. Vonnie and I sported painfully fixed smiles. Only Frank appeared somewhat normal. Sigh!
Two years later, we tried it again. The pictures were much better. But the tsunami of difficulty that proceeded our arrival at the studio caused me to promise never to attempt an extended family photo again! E.V.E.R.!!
(My brilliant friend, Becky Smith, captures and adds fabulous family pictures to all her blog posts. She is my hero!)
There was also the surreptitious photo session I attempted with Kristin and Joy one Christmas for a portrait to hang in Frank's office. Kristin was three; Joy was twelve months. And they immediately picked up on my anxiety level.
We finally got an acceptable shot. But it does not tell the story of what happens when two little girls decide they DON'T want their picture taken!
(How interesting that Kristin has actually become the photo-journalist for our family. I guess we didn't scar her too badly. Smile.)
So when you open the next Christmas card that contains any sort of group picture, I'd like to encourage you to pause. Take a moment to be duly appreciative of the effort behind said photo. Reverently place it on your refrigerator. Then call your friend/family member and ask the simple question, "What did it take to get such a great shot?"
Prepare to be entertained!