Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Annual Family Photo

We did it!  Another Family Christmas Picture snapped and developed and ready to be mailed with the cards for 2011.  And I must say, this was the easiest, breeziest family photo ever!  I don't know about you, but getting family pictures done can be daunting.  And I actually think it's more difficult now that the kids are older than when they were young. (Sorry, young moms, I know you think it's hard now, but JUST YOU WAIT!)
Justin 12, Anna 10, Tyler 8 and Kate 6

"Back in the day" when the kids were little, I had a 35-mm camera that was loaded with a roll of film.  It's hard to remember that now that we are in the digital-everything age, but I do remember taking pictures and hoping, hoping, hoping they turned out.  I remember when the film was ready eagerly picking up the developed pictures and looking at them in the car before I even left the parking lot:  Bad picture, bad picture, good picture, bad picture, good picture except for one with his eyes closed, bad picture except great of me, good picture except my thumb was in the corner, etc., etc.  Finally, it seemed I was left with one, maybe two pictures to choose from!

I've always gone out of my way to make my family pictures interesting and "Christmas-y."  Living next door to the Arctic, it was always very cold around Christmas picture-taking time and I loved the snow for a backdrop. But being bundled up like an eskimo with only your eyes showing doesn't do much in the way of, "Oh, look how much they've grown!" for those far-away family and friends who received my cards (unless they were refering to girth with all that down filling!).  I remember bundling up the kids underneath their clothes...long johns and extra socks...and then having them wear a Christmas sweater, cute hat, mittens and fashion boots.  Then we would stage a snow picture with a sled or skates or evergreen tree or Canada geese for props while I cajoled them, scolded them, cheered them, and even bribed them with gingersnaps in a bag I carried along (no joke!).  Their poor cheeks and noses would be bright red in those pictures, but oh, we captured the "feeling" of Christmas!  Then there was the "behind the scenes" knowledge of who had been crying from the cold, or crying because they slipped on ice, or crying because they were arguing with their sibling, or crying because they hated getting their picture taken...sometimes the red faces were from previously-shed tears and not so much the cold!  And if it wasn't hard enough to make four kids smile and look like they were having a ball in the snow, we added a Golden retriever to the mix!  One day, I know my kids will look back fondly on that yearly family photo, but for now it is the dreaded tradition!  Last year they all moaned and complained so much that I used a picture that someone had taken of us by a tree that turned out half-good (at least I thought so).  But they all complained bitterly about that much so that this year they all agreed to pose.  (That's a key for all you moms who don't know how to get your older kids to cooperate...just throw in one year of a bad shot of them!)  But our problem this year was schedules.  Two of my kids live on a college campus in Portland and all four of them are full-time students with jobs.  We absolutely could not match our schedules.  I was contemplating doing a collage of individual shots when on Saturdy my son called to say his shift at work got cancelled and we could do the family photos NOW.  We were scattered all over from Newberg to Portland, but I made some quick calls and we coordinated everyone at the Ace Hotel in Portland with only two time changes!  I was actually was a beautiful day and I was going downtown at Christmas to be with my kids, see the decorations, sip some great Stumptown coffee and soak up a little of the "It's Christmastime in the city" atmosphere.  Our picture for the year was Anna's idea:  The retro photo booth at the Ace Hotel---black and white photos, super-quick, doesn't matter what color of clothing you're wearing, and we didn't have to pose as a group.  I liked the idea!  So we all converged at the hotel, plugged in our $4 bucks, and with 3-second intervals went into the booth two-by-two.  Snap!  Switch!  Snap!  Switch! Snap!  Switch!

Then the little strip slid out of the slot and we all crowded close to see it.  Success!  We only had to re-do once because of a minor mistake with borders.  Ten minutes and $12 later we were done, and free to browse the city streets while sipping our coffee.
The big tree in Pioneer Square,
but no lights until dark.

Jeff even managed to catch the Ducks game on the big mobile TV set up in Pioneer Square, so he was pretty happy too!

All in all, it was a very productive photo shoot.  We all had fun, it was done and over quickly, Mom didn't make everyone coordinate their outfits and stand in the cold, and we got to enjoy a little Christmas!

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