Every year, I subject my children to what they call “those pictures.” What they are referring to is a couple of hours of dress-up photographs around Christmastime. I frame each picture and keep them in a box with my holiday decorations. Opening that box each year and placing the photos around the house is my gift to me, and it’s the best one of all!
Taking the photos is a different story. It usually requires some wrangling, especially after our family grew to include three kids!
To get the perfect holiday picture, I have tried all kinds of poses. Of course, the obligatory newborn “stuff the baby in the big stocking.” I have a great photo of my first son Mackenzie, now 21, in the stocking wearing a green velveteen jumper accompanied by a toy reindeer. To his dismay, as he grew older, I went whole-hog on him with a Victorian outfit complete with velvet hat and knickers.
When his brother Michael, now 18, came along I dragged out the stocking, but Michael wouldn’t fit — he was already nine pounds. So, I plopped him down on a wooden sled in a Santa outfit. I cherish this picture because he was teetering to sit upright, and I had to steady him.
The next year we started our “brothers” pictures. At this point, my oldest is six and starts trying to sabotage the pictures. When their sister, Mary Parker, now 16, was born I did my last group dress-up picture. After a series of epic fails in getting them all to sit still and smile, I finally managed to capture their sister looking at the boys as they taunted her. If you look closely you can see where Mackenzie has cut a chunk out of his hair with the wrapping scissors. That was the last of the group photos for many years.
As a different twist, I decided to start taking individual pics under the tree in PJs. The kids were thankful I stopped dressing them up. It wasn’t until their teens that I could get them to pose together again.
Even with all the fussing, I never realized how much this tradition meant to them until 2017. After we had opened all our gifts, my son Michael says, “you know we are really too big to fit under the tree, what if we sat in front of the fireplace?” That picture means so much to me. For more than a year I kept it on my phone as a screen saver.
I guess the joy of holiday photos come from the memories they create. While I laugh now at the years of getting these photos, I wouldn’t change a thing.