This Year’s Christmas Pics

The struggle of taking family Christmas photos

There’s a Barenaked Ladies holiday song (this is a band comprised of men, so don’t let your mind wander too far) called “Christmas Pics.” The lyrics go like this:

Turkey is done, reviews are mixed
When’s mom gonna get that hearing aid fixed?
Hold still
And wait for the click
You’re in this year’s Christmas pics

Brother, we don’t agree
About the government and where to put the tree
Hold still
And wait for the click
We’re in this year’s Christmas pics

Flashbulbs and wine
And ‘hold that smile’
Everyone’s here
Flown for miles
Looks like we’ve stood the test
And we’re looking our best

Tears rolling down my nephew’s face
Santa’s house can be a scary place
Hold still
Wait for it
Hold still
Wait for the click
We’re in this year’s Christmas
This year’s Christmas
This years Christmas pics

The song paints a rosy picture of a lovely family Christmas photo session, candidly snapped as relatives chat after a delicious Thanksgiving meal.

And then there’s the Montplaisir family Christmas photo session.

The mere mention of taking Christmas photos in our household sparks immediate tension. The entire process, from coordinating outfits to selecting the right festive border to complement the photo is a long and grueling process of indecisiveness. And it doesn’t seem to end until each photo is stuffed in a white envelope, stamped and traveling to its final destination.

But I mean really, who actually enjoys taking Christmas pictures? Especially when you’re from a family who is too busy running in separate directions elk hunting in Montana, hiking in Patagonia, riding horses or being forced to drive your daughter to some other part of the country. We seem to spend moments when we’re together denying that Christmas photos are “a thing.” I can’t count the amount of times I’ve heard “We should just take our Christmas pictures now” at some point over the summer, and the response being “Naw.” And then we scramble, weeks or sometimes days before Christmas to gather the four of us and our two dogs in one spot, and sit long enough to capture the moment for eternity.

Sometimes the photos end up being New Year greeting cards if we really hold off, seeking the panicky thrill of haggling with Target employees when they run out of photo paper. And then we regret not just using a photo of the fam in our Fourth of July at the lake boat parade garb, where I was dressed as the Statue of Liberty and my bro Aaron smoked a cigar dressed as Uncle Sam. Because Christmas is a symbol of freedom, right…? ‘Merica. That probably would have been a better representation of our family’s dysfunctionality (not sure if that’s a word but I just made it one).

On the bright side, our Christmas photo sessions have this electric element of terrifying unpredictability. You never know what will happen. Maybe the dogs will run away, as they did a few years back. We were posing down by the river – mom dad, me, the bro, two dogs and my pony Ginger. The setup was flawless, with the woods and the Red River framing us in an outdoorsy background. Surely the beauty of these pictures would have evoked images of “Over the river and through the woods…” from their recipients – until a deer jumped out.

The tripod and camera were abandoned as my dad and brother ran up the hill to the house, jumped in cars and drove down the road to track our terribly naughty pooches.

Jenny and Bosco are German Wirehair hunting dogs, and when there’s a scent to be followed, no amount of screaming at the top of your lungs will stop them from running miles away from the house, over the river, across farm fields, until Bosco realizes his intelligence for tracking animals is far better than his sense of direction to get home.

After that experience, we’ve been a bit head shy (with good reason) on the Christmas photo sessions. I think we ended up skipping a photo the year of the dog fiasco.

Yesterday was supposed to be the day for Montplaisir Christmas photos – 2016 Edition, until someone argued for the following day (today) because we’d already be in our Sunday best after church.

And of course yesterday the weather was perfect and today was windier than heck. But surprisingly, that was the only hiccup. I think we did alright this year.

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Montplaisir family Christmas photo, 2016 edition!

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