Sunday, December 18, 2011

The 2011 Story of Us in the Ever-Elusive Perfect Christmas Pictures

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
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 outgrew his.


1996
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
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
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
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
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
2001:  Trust me when I say we worked very hard for this one. It was worth it.


2002
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
2003:  There were threats of spankings before this was snapped, and that's all I'm gonna say.


2004
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 that changes your perspective — you stop worrying about matching outfits.


2005
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
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
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.


2008
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.


2009
2009:  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.


2010
2010:  It almost didn't happen again. But posting all these pictures last year inspired me to overcome the whining, fighting, dressing, and pretending to smile for the camera. We snapping this one without incident after church the last Sunday before Christmas, just in time to make my Christmas cards late. Perfect.


2011

2011:  They're older now, and it no longer takes much fuss to produce perfect Christmas card pictures. But what we've lost in effort, we've gained in maturity and memories. It's taken the last couple of years for me to realize that perfect doesn't happen when a shutter flickers open and closed. Perfect happens when you look back over the years and find that every imperfect moment was a blessing anyway.

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