When it happened last year, I thought it was just a fluke. Surely, I thought, we would do better this year.
But, despite our high hopes and best efforts, the unhappy reality of the situation has only been confirmed: It is impossible to get a good Christmas card photo with six little kids involved. There are simply too many eyes to keep open, moods to appease, and heads of hair to run a comb through all at once.
Up until last year, our annual Christmas card photo had posed no problem. In fact, the year before that, we had successfully added both Beenie and Zoomie to the mix without incident. Apparently, however, the addition of that sixth little body complicates things (through no fault of the baby himself, of course). It is the sole piece of evidence needed to prove the validity of chaos theory.
Indeed "chaos" is the only word that describes the five minutes immediately preceding the flash that added our Christmas 2013 photo to my iPhone camera roll. I will remind you how that ill-fated photographic specimen turned out:
Here, in a shot I will title Christmas Gothic, everyone is visibly unhappy and all for different reasons. At the top of the stairs Pooh and Sooby cannot agree on who gets to hold the bigger part of the stocking, so they are mad at each other. So much for my costuming efforts with Santa hats and red mittens.
In front, Bootsie is aggravated because we are crowding our photo session in right before lunch. She is hungry and wants to eat. Left of her, Beenie perches sullenly on Pa-pa's lap. In his defense, I have to admit the surly look is not entirely unjustified. In the moments just preceding, Beenie's mama attempted to confiscate both his sippy cup of milk and his pacifier.
Although she successfully commandeered the cup, we had to leave the pacifier in the spirit of compromise. Shrill squeals, we quickly learned, reverberate most unpleasantly in the close confines of a stairwell. (These account for Pa-pa's dazed expression,)
Meanwhile, Zoomie, in the center, marshals his cat-like reflexes and seizes the opportunity to grab the aforementioned sippy cup. Normally, this shouldn't pose a problem. But Zoomie is very allergic to dairy products and begins to feel nauseated. You will notice that, wisely, none of us chooses to sit directly in front of him.
Baby Heero, barely a month old, just wants to sleep. Quite understandably, he is unhappy with the noise and the jostling and the general melee. You will notice that I am the only one smiling--"grinning like a possum," Pa-pa would later say--apparently oblivious to the goings-on around me.
So you can see why, this past Thanksgiving weekend, I had high hopes for our 2014 picture. Everyone would be a year older, and the whole process should go more smoothly. That seemed to be the case, until we all took a closer look:
Sooby, it seems, thought it would enhance the photo if she appeared to be asleep. So, in the midst of a gargantuan effort to make sure sixteen eyes are all open in the same split second, Sooby closes hers on purpose in order to look like she is sleeping. Oh well. I guess she does look rather angelic.
And so, in this 2014 Christmas season, Pa-pa and I present to you our official holiday photo with this colorful little string of Christmas lights that illuminate our lives all year long. Sooby, our oldest, is already asleep, waiting for Santa. If you look very closely, I am sure you can see visions of sugar plums dancing somewhere in the vicinity of her head.