The Story of Us in the Ever-Elusive Perfect Christmas Picture

by - December 16, 2010

It all started when Mike and I decided a picture card was where it was at when it was Christmas and we had our first 8-month-old and we used a florescent lamp to light the situation because we knew we loved our little one but knew nothing of photography. It took a whole roll of film (yes, film, and drug store developing — the dark ages).

1995: The little brown and tan appendage growing from the side of Adrian's head turned out to be a favorite bear of his that now resides in my underwear drawer because I developed an emotional attachment to it when my son's attachment was outgrown.

1996:  This little outfit I hand smocked and sewed by hand (well, machine). I still can't believe it turned out fit for wearing. I purchased $60 saddle oxfords from Stride Right for a one-year-old who wore them with only this outfit and only three times. The ridiculous things we do to and for our children. Recognize the  bear? He's already becoming more prominent in our lives.

1997:  The wonder of a childhood Christmas had finally arrived. See it in those eyes? He's not quite three and fully aware of all the delicious-ness of Christmas. I was very pregnant with his little sister. He looks so oblivious to the fact that his days of being the center of my universe were about to come to an abrupt end.

1998:  Mike and I decided to get in this picture because it was the first time we felt like a full-fledged family, no more single child. We had the frenzied getting dressed for this picture and the frayed nerves and the snipping at one another to prove it, too. Oh the things that hide behind the perfect picture....  But from the looks of it, you'd never know. My daughter's dress and matching bow? Hand smocked and hand sewn again. It's still in the attic somewhere.

1999:  Adrian wasn't the only one with his hands full. An infant plus a one-year-old equals chaos — cranky, tired chaos. Hence, the paci in the Christmas picture. Whada-ya-gonna-do? Nobody's clothes were hand made that year. I counted dressed and fed as a victory back then.

2000:  This picture makes me cry. When they really were these ages, I was so busy trying to meet their needs, I completely missed how cute and precious and adorable God makes the next generation. I look at this picture now and can't believe God used me in any capacity to have anything to do with these marvels of His.

2001:  Trust me when I say we worked very hard for this one. It was worth it.

2002:  Mike and I got in on it again this year because so many of our loved ones were anxious to see Mike, the man who had cheated death after a very late-stage cancer diagnosis. He had just been released from the hospital and had his first chemo treatment under his belt. We were happy just to be all together that year, embracing a life spared as an unspeakable gift.

2003:  There were threats of spankings before this was snapped, and that's all I'm gonna say.

2004:  Not a one of my sweet children wanted to wear the carefully matched blue and grey outfits I picked out for them. I distinctly remember much fussing and fighting in order to capture this happy family for the Christmas card that year. You can see it on everyone's face but Mike's. He's still just blissfully happy to be alive. Cancer treatments had lasted a solid year, and it changes your perspective — you stop worrying about matching outfits.

2005:  I'm not sure what I was more proud of this year: the new house we had built, the stockings it had taken me four years to cross-stitch that were finally finished, or my kids. It should be an obvious choice, huh?



2006:  We came close to not having a Christmas picture this year; life was now moving again at break-neck
speed. We used this snapshot from a fall trip to the mountains. I was grieved by their everyday clothes and the fact that although she denies it to this today, it looks like Reagan had snipped the left half of her bangs right off. But for all this picture was lacking, the mountainous backdrop and the proud big brother more than made up for it.

2007:  I wish I could freeze time here. We were past diaper bags and sippy cups and nap times, but hadn't yet hit the turbulent teens. I didn't know it at the time, though. That's how life is sometimes:  not knowing to cherish the ordinary moments because you don't realize they're extraordinary until afterward.

I broke my winning streak in 2008 because we just never found the time to get a picture taken:  proof that life only gets busier and goes by faster as the kids get older.

Last year we hired a photographer to take some shots for the church website and for our personal use. The photographer introduced me to blogging, which, for better or worse, has changed my daily life more than anything else since giving birth to these three beautiful kids. She's no longer blogging.

This year? It hasn't happened yet. But I'm feeling inspired to overcome the whining, fighting, dressing, and pretending to smile for the camera. It's worth the effort to capture a perfect moment, to look at the picture of a perfect family, and know that behind the scenes it's not so perfect after all. But it's ours, and how I love it, every wonderful moment of it from year to year.

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  1. I loved looking at your pictures. What a beautiful family and memories you have! They will be glad you took the time to do this one day....soon....maybe....;)!

  2. The only words that come to mind after seeing these pictures and knowing ALL the details behind your words, is that God is faithful and He is good! As you often say to me, "one lifetime is not enough." Love you.

  3. Dawn, I absolutely adore this post! I feel like I caught up on the highlights of your life for the last 15 years! The pictures are precious, your commentary is hilarious and I am overjoyed that your husband is healthy. I didn't know that part of your story. So grateful to have stopped by here today...

  4. How fun, to see all these pictures grouped together like this!!! Love it!

  5. After two seperate photographers and photo sessions this year, I gave up on trying to get 4 boys to all look the same way, keep their eyes open and smile at the same time. I have 4 individual pictures that I am going to make a collage of! Happy to see your pictures, and know that there is still hope for us yet!

  6. Wow!That you could place your hands on each of those pics without turning the house upside down is amazing! We really were switched at birth, though I am in no way elegant enough to be your mothers child. You are dear and I still have all these link to you so far away.

  7. Tammy, I framed one every year is a Christmas frame and have always put them out on the foyer table (when we used to have a foyer) as part of our Christmas decor, so they were already all together. I'm not sure if this information supports or dispels your switched at birth theory, though.

    What do you think?

  8. This was such a neat post. I had to stop in the middle and go do something but came back to watch your kids grow up! What a beautiful family the Lord has blessed you with and all those memories now written down to share. This post is in itself a treasure...and I loved the bear hiding in the underwear drawer because you just can't part with it!

  9. Thanks for sharing your life with us in this post. I was good to see your journey in photos, and to read your words. Each year - each day - gives us all so much to celebrate.


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