Holiday Photos: The Good, the Bad, the Fake

Posted on December 10th, 2010

It is officially the holiday season (and when I say “official” I have to say again that I mean that it’s December, rather than July which is when all the stores would like you to think the holiday season begins).  Anyway, besides the fact that it is December, I know that it is officially the holiday season because I got something horrifying in the mail.

A holiday card.

Oh, not just any holiday card. No, I got one of those custom, cutesy, holiday cards with multiple photos of a smiling family doing stuff like sunning on the beach, skiing in some winter wonderland and graduating. It was like a year in photos of this family.

I hate those cards. I really, really hate those cards.

First, they are intimidating. I mean, come on. Who remembers to take pictures of every single event during the entire year? Okay, maybe you do. But I sure as heck don’t. Oh, don’t get me wrong. When Junior was a baby his every frown, diaper change and smile were well documented. So well documented in fact, that I still have approximately 4,200 film canisters shoved into a junk drawer, waiting to be developed.

And then one day, I lost the camera. And suddenly Junior’s frowns, diaper changes and smiles didn’t need constant documentation. Plus, the junk drawer was full. So I got a digital camera. Then I lost it. Um, before I actually downloaded a few years of photos from it to the computer, of course.

As you can see, I’m not really much of a picture person. But then a few years ago I started getting those cards where everybody put tons of pictures of their kids on them, doing stuff all year round…and I, well I wanted to join in on the fun.

So last year I decided to do something about it. I tried to coax my child into taking a year’s worth of fake photos in one afternoon. Hey, I had wardrobe changes and a green screen and I wasn’t afraid to use them. But as we were taking the photos I decided to call the “winter vignette,” Junior suddenly turned to me and said, “Uh, Mom? Do you really think anyone will believe we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro?”

Okay, maybe I was a tad too enthusiastic about faking our photos. I mean, anyone who knows me knows I am not a climber type of person. Or a snow person. Or actually a person who would climb anything higher than say, the stairs at the mall. And seriously, I’d only do that if the escalator was broken and there was a really good shoe sale on the second floor.

So after that little eye opener of a conversation, I sent out our usual Christmas card and enclosed Junior’s school photo. Which is the same every year. It features a gray background and Junior, smirking like a felon in a mug shot. It’s not what you might call a flattering photo.  Although a few years ago one of my great-aunts offered to send us bail money.

Anyway, after last year I vowed that all year long I would use my trusty cell phone to document our every movement. And I did. I documented our vacation. I documented our time with family. Heck, I even documented a particularly long and painful homework session, but that was mainly to use as blackmail when Junior is older and has kids of his own. And when November came around, I downloaded them. And I began the process of creating my very own weapon of intimidation–I mean, holiday card.

And it turns out I was very good at documenting Junior’s every movement last year. Heck, I was even good at remembering to include Harry in some of the shots. What I really, truly stunk at, however, was remembering to put me in some of the photos. In fact, I was not in a single picture.

And that is why this year when friends and family open our card and see the wonderful photos of our family from this entire year, they will not be astonished by the centerpiece photo of all of us standing proudly at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

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