Friday, December 24, 2010

Our Christmas pictures are deceptive.

For so many of us, our annual Christmas mailing is the only real world contact we make with one another. And, of course, we don’t want to complicate the holidays for our friends and family by burdening them with the true complexities of our lives. So, much to each other’s annoyance, we send out photos of perfectly groomed, sweetly smiling children, accompanied by a letter that expounds on their most noteworthy accomplishments and overlooks the many times they’ve embarrassed us in front of strangers or earned a place on the “Naughty List.”

There are few Christmas mailings I have enjoyed more than my friend who got frustrated, trying to photograph her four uncooperative kids in front of the tree, and sent out a photo-card in which each kid had their own un-posed look of anger, disgust, or confusion. It was hilarious, and real. Another memorable Christmas letter we once received shared the hilarious tale of a nine year old’s bout of constipation and the ensuing battle to administer the suppository. When their sewer line backed up in their basement the following year – and it, too, made the Christmas letter – we began to wonder if fecal matter was a new Christmas standard.

I don’t know that we need to air every trial and sorrow in the three short paragraphs of our Christmas letter, or that we should take first-thing-in-the-morning snapshots for the Christmas card, but I did feel the need to come clean. Not only did I bathe and groom my children and myself for our Christmas picture, I also set the camera at the one strategic angle where you couldn’t see the evidence of my failed housekeeping. My living room looked like Santa’s Workshop had exploded in it, with ribbons, boxes, and wrapping paper scattered all over the place. With careful cropping, we cut out the kitchen counter in the background that was cluttered with pots, pans, dishes, and cooling racks.

Not only was our Christmas picture a bit of a fraud, I’m generally conscious of my angles whenever I’m taking pictures. Aside from the possibility that my friends and family might begin to consider me a slob if they see picture after picture with laundry piles and toy clutter in the background, I don’t want my kids to have photographic evidence. If they can remember that we dressed up crazy with them and took them to the Halloween dance, without having to remember that we disregarded a slew of housework to do so, why not try to give them that illusion? It’s not just a lie – it’s also a service I provide.

He also said that you always have happy memories of us and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you. 1 Thessalonians 3:6b

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