I knew I had a sick sense of humor about the type of photo I wanted to include in our holiday card this year when I imagined my husband and two children lined up neatly in front of the fireplace with phony Christmas card smiles pasted on their faces, with just one unique characteristic – we all were wearing underwear on our heads. The caption under the photo would read, "We hope you get everything you want UNDIE your tree this year." I love that idea! Of course, no one in the family wanted to wear underwear on their heads … even if it was clean.
Every year on summer vacation, I try to have some unwilling stranger take our Christmas card photo. For the past four years, we’ve vacationed in the North Woods of Minnesota, where everyone looks really "natural" in the photo after a six-hour hike to get to the picturesque spot where I want to take the photo. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get my kids to smile for a total stranger, especially one who has been hiking for days and hasn’t showered in just as long. And I don’t even want to talk about what we look like.
When we return from vacation, I excitedly thumb through the newly-developed photos, hoping there’s at least one good photo to include in the Christmas cards. "Please, don’t let anyone have their eyes closed," I mutter as I begin looking. One photo shows my son sitting in the sun which has made him look pale enough to be hospitalized, and he’s painfully squinting while simulataneously doing the "peace sign" behind his sister’s head. The next photo has my daughter carefully checking her shoes to see if there’s any bear poop on the soles. The third photo looks like we have all fallen asleep since everyone’s eyes are closed except for mine. Unfortunately, I’m yelling "CHEESE" and you can read my lips in the photo. The fourth picture in the bunch has us all looking as if we’ve been hypnotized by the stranger taking our picture – our glazed looks and wary expressions tell it all. I sigh as I flip through to the final photo. I gasp. We’re all pointing our fingers toward the stranger taking our portrait, our mouths agap in complete and total fear. I still don’t know how that guy managed to take that photo with that black bear riding piggyback on his back.
I finally decided to use the photo where my daughter is checking for bear poop on her shoes. At least we all had our eyes open. And I have a new Christmas card photo motto – to "pick the least scariest photo in the bunch."