As mentioned, the ritual begins with a long, arduous hunt through catalogs, online sites, and shopping malls for just the right matching outfits for the youngest members of the family. For many years this meant matching dresses for our three daughters; however, now there are four little granddaughters to be outfitted. Until the perfect dresses and accessories can be found, bagged, and delivered to their respective owners, the older family members are in the dark as to the appropriate attire for the big day. Only once the hunt has come to a successful conclusion, does the matter of color coordination begin as grammie, papa, moms, dads, aunts and uncles find clothing to compliment the little princesses, who are after all the center of the universe. It is always good when their royal dresses are plaid, allowing for multiple matching hues.
Keep in mind this is the picture that will grace my Christmas card, this is the picture that will hang on refrigerators across America and the world, and these are the faces that will smile at our friends until the ritual is repeated. The final moments are intense, as the house begins to fill with the four families that comprise our clan. Sons-in-law nod at one another, exchange a knowing look, and steel themselves for the inevitable. Daughters busy themselves with makeup, hair, clothes, cameras, and scouting out the perfect setting. Tension mounts, the lights are in place, Bob and I take our seats in the middle of the frame. This is when the true character of our family comes out. THIS is when all CHAOS breaks out.
Fitting twelve people into a picture—four of them children—is not a small task. Add to that making sure everyone is smiling, facing the camera, and actually LOOKING at the camera and you have the impossible task! Thankfully Bob and Ellie are fantastic photographers, thankfully everyone is willing to make it work, and thankfully Ellie is a photoshop wizard!!!!!!! Seriously, she can remove an arm and place it on another picture if necessary, and zits, runny noses and crazy eyeballs are no problem either. So, the flash goes off maybe forty times and we pray for just one good picture. That’s it! It’s over for another year. Done! I count, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, 11, 12! Everyone has survived yet again. The smell of victory is in the air and the promise of nine calm months before we are called to hunt and “shoot” once more. Our yearly ritual, bringing new meaning to those infamous words: “Say Cheese!”
Hope you enjoy a couple of the "outtakes" from this year and last year along with our final product at the top of the page.