Monday, December 3, 2007

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas - Part 2 - Christmas cards

I love my children. I do. I truly do.
If I sound as if I am trying to convince myself of that fact.
I am. I truly am.

Every year since Kat was born, I have taken a Christmas picture to put in our holiday cards. You would think by now, Kat and Adam would understand that this is a tradition. You would also think that by now I would realize my Norman Rockwell visions of these photo shoots are more along the lines of a Lohan or Federline/Spears family reunion.

It's not just the kids who have conspired against these events. When I was married, Kevin and my mother also wreaked havoc on these photo sessions. When Trina (which was what we called her then) was 2, I planned to take a picture of her in front of the tree in her jammies sitting on her red rocking chair with our cocker spaniel, Peppi at her feet. I gave her a bath, dressed her in a new Christmas red flannel nightgown with lace on the collar and cuffs. She looked adorable with her bare toes peeking out from her nightgown. When everything was set up downstairs, I realized that the camera was still upstairs. So, I bolted upstairs, grabbed the camera, extra film and dog treats for Peppi; knowing that neither my busy toddler, nor cocker may sit still for long. Fuzzy pictures and action shots of Trina getting up from her chair, or chasing Peppi was not the image I wanted to capture for our cards. I was upstairs all of two minutes. Two minutes!!! When I next saw my daughter she was covered with chocolate!! My mom gave her the chocolate and my husband allowed it. Neither one could figure out why I was so frustrated. A chocolate smeared face was not a look I envisioned for our cards. I considered murdering both of them but realized that the act was very un-holiday like and karma was gonna get me. Once clean with most chocolate stains hidden and two rolls of film later we had a very cute holiday card.

The following year, Adam had arrived. Trina was now 3 and Adam 3 1/2 months old. Again both dressed in Christmas plaid pajamas we were ready to try this Christmas picture thing again. I hadn't realized that we would have a running theme of chaos in these annual photo attempts. I didn't need to worry about Adam trying to climb off the chair as he wasn't quite mobile yet, but he was rather squirmy and Trina wasn't exactly gentle with him. There was never any malice to her actions. She just thought of Adam as a very realistic doll and she treated him as such. Trina didn't think twice about grabbing her doll by the arm and dragging it, so why couldn't she do that with this squirmy little guy? If I remember right, during this little photo session, Adam kept turning his head to look out the window. I asked Trina if she could please try to move his head toward the camera. So, being 3, and knowing Adam needed his head to face my way, she placed a palm on each one of his chubby cheeks and gently moved his head towards the camera. The only decent shot from that afternoon has Trina angelically looking down at Adam while she attempts to unscrew his head from his neck. The look is completed with Adam eyes the size of quarters with a deer in the headlights look, wondering what his big sister was doing to him. Yes, I still sent it.

For 15 years I have whined, argued, threatened, bargained and pleaded with my two favorite children; trying to get their pictures taken for the #$^&#(& holiday card. Tis the season to be Jolly...Fa la la la la la la la la. We did pictures at JC Penney. They always did a great job. One year we even included Peppi. But they got to an age when they didn't want to have "professional" pictures done. So for the last 5 years it's been me and my old school film camera. Last Christmas I received a digital camera, so this was the first "high tech" (or as "high tech" as I will ever get) Christmas.

Last year, there were moments of fun interspersed with drama. For some reason, Adam decided to "skate" (socks + hard wood floors) past the camera every time I tried to take a shot of Kat. Or he would dive through the air onto the couch. He was very comical and we laughed alot. Unfortunately, when we got the pics developed, Kat hated all of the pictures, stormed off to her room, slammed her door bellowing that she didn't care what I did. So, now that she gave me carte blanche permission, I went to Walgreens and ordered the photos I liked. Which she, of course, hated. More tears erupted when I reminded her that she "didn't care" which pictures I chose. Fortunately, she calmed down, we settled on two pictures (one she liked, one I liked). I called Walgreens and changed the order. We ordered half of hers and half of mine. The clerk was quite understanding. She was obviously a mom.

The other day, when the kids got home from their dad's, I mentioned that after dinner they would be participating in their favorite holiday tradition. Adam informed me that he suddenly had plans. He needed to wash the cat. Funny...we don't own a cat. Kat just asked if she had to change out of her sweat pants. Nope. I'll just shoot from the waist up. No one needs to know she was wearing her gray smiley face glow in the dark sweatpants...well...until now. Never being above bribery, I made them an authentic Mexican dinner from the cookbook they gave me for my birthday.

Sadly, Adam was angry before we even attempted to take one shot. Everything made him mad. One thing I have to say about my kids they rarely gang up on me at the same time. Last year Kat was the diva. This year it was Adam's turn.

Christmas music was softly playing in the background. The tree was lit. I started taking pics of Kat alone. Then Adam alone. He wouldn't cooperate - hated every photo I took until, finally, he settled on the last picture. Then I suggested they stand together in front of the tree. You would have thought I asked them to chop off their own foot! Comments were flying back and forth, some funny...some not.

"You mean I have to put my arm AROUND his shoulder?!"

"I'm not touching you, I'm not touching you!" (Adam says to Kat as he points a finger into her face - Thank you Brooke!!).

"Adam, you are such a brat. Mom, why didn't you stop with me?"
"Because she needed perfection, so she had me."

"Adam can you at least smile at the camera. Pretend you are having fun. It's just a smile!"

"So help me Adam, if Mom wasn't here, I'd beat your butt.  You know she's going to just keep taking pictures. The sooner you cooperate the sooner we'll be done!"

When I asked them to stand back to back, Kat asked if she was still taller. Uh, sorry, you're now the same height Hon. Next, they started bumping each other's butts. OH! MY!! GOD!!! At some point a shoving match ensued of which I should have taken pictures. The card would have been of my children trying to kill each other with the sentiment, "Peace on earth. Good will towards men." All the while a variety of Christmas music continued to play in the background suggesting peace, harmony and love.

It is these proud parental moments I'll treasure forever.

In every picture Adam had a similar deer in the headlights look reminiscent of his first Christmas photo shoot. Eyes huge and round and no smile...just A LOT more hair. He refused to cooperate, yet hated every picture. So I decided I would do the best I could with what I had. There was a great one of Adam which was snapped while Kat was making him laugh. I used that. He hated it. Adam stormed off stating something about looking stupid.

Who is his mother and how is she raising him?!! I then began questioning my parenting skills, why I had children to begin with and why I continue to torture all three of us each year. After a heart to heart with my son and my daughter off to the movies with her friends, I took a few more single shots of Adam which we both agreed we liked. He still looks a bit stern in the picture of the two of them, but I love the single shot of him alone.

So, the question that arises from all of this. Will they look back on this "tradition" and loathe me for the annual Christmas picture, or will they look back fondly at the silliness that had us laughing?

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