Look, if you learn ONE thing from me then this is it. Trust me. (There are people new to this site.) Ruining holiday photographs and family memories is one of my specialties. My brother and I mastered this technique years ago after one small strategy session.
We held this session after “accidentally” ruining a single photograph that sent my father into a rage. This event was the catalyst for my brother and me creating a formal strategy because watching my father lose it was so wonderful. He was like the robot in Alien spewing hydraulic fluid from his neck. We stood in wonder as he berated us for “being children,” and “acting like fools.” Well, we figured if that is how he sees us them perhaps we should act accordingly.
Our plan was simple. RUIN EVERY PHOTOGRAPH by making faces. We both settled on a favorite face, each on display in the attached photograph. My brother with the puffed out cheeks and me, the long-hair on the right, with the gaping, open mouth. We trained ourselves to remain perfectly silent, motionless until deploying the faces at the last second and too close to exposure for anyone to stop us even when they knew it was coming.
These moments would come with a stern warning from the old man. “Look, you assholes, if you ruin this moment I’m gonna be pissed,” he would scowl at us. “Just be adults.” “Oh ya, sure thing pop.” “Don’t know what got into me last time but I feel bad.” And then we would ruin the next photo. Again and again and again. Nothing could stop us. Our faces going from sterile, calm, expressionless wastelands to twisted holiday ruining messes in the blink of an eye.
The moment captured above is a perfect example. Mom STILL looking on with admiration at her youngest son, me, even while knowing I’m ruining the moment. My sister looking a bit hesitant to smile knowing we are ruining the moment. And then there is my father. Wrecked bird in front of him, uncomfortable sweater, still thinking THIS might finally be the time my brother and I grow up but his soul telling him otherwise.
What I love about this is the reminder that both kids and parents have visions of their family and then they have the truth of their family. Most often the vision and truth manage to avoid one another. My father was especially gullible. He was a screw up when he was young and he knew that we knew. Like the guy with chocolate on his face telling the rest of to avoid sweets. We had him, and he knew it.
So, my advice is to join my brother and I this holiday season and when you do please share your images with me here. After all, this time of year is about giving.