Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

If You Chance to Meet a Frown

by Stephanie Black

There are a multitude of natural laws that govern family life. For instance:

*If you mop your kitchen floor, someone will—before the sun sets—spill his juice.

Last Saturday, we combed our hair, dressed in sort-of-coordinated clothes and herded everyone into the backyard for a family snapshot to stick in our Christmas cards. We were, of course, operating under the regulations imposed by the Law of Family Photos, the first of which reads:

*In any photograph containing four or more people, a minimum of one person must, for any given picture, have a goofy look on his face.

We had seven people in our photo, five of whom aren’t old enough to vote, so we were definitely subject to this law. We took a bunch of pictures, downloaded them, and evaluated the results. Take your choice—the manic chipmunk look, the “we are not amused” look, the winking look, the hand-over-face look, the multi-chinned look, the nearly-closed eyes look and—my personal favorite—the Fish Lips. Apparently someone was getting bored, which brings up the Second Law of Family Photos:

*If you speak the words “Just stand still and smile and we’ll be done with this!” then any child under the age of ten will interpret these words to mean, “Hey, you! Act like a crazed weasel!”

Actually, the kids did quite well, all things considered and several of the photos weren't bad. But given that we didn’t get one really good shot, my husband—who had apparently been snorting Froot Loops—mentioned that we could try again the next day. We quickly nixed that idea. Why go through the photo shoot ordeal when you can . . . Photoshop!

Truth be told, I can’t Photoshop—don’t know a thing about it. But my sister (known to many as the Mean Aunt) is an expert. I e-mailed her what I thought was the best of the pictures. All of us fell somewhere on the not-bad range in that shot, but my older son had a very solemn look on his face. He was smiling in other shots, so I sent Mean Aunt one of those reject shots along with the good one. In a techno-version of the "smile-that-frown away" song of Primary fame, she replaced the frowny face with a smiley one. You’d never know the smile wasn’t his original expression in the picture.

I also asked her if she could change the color of one daughter’s shirt. This shirt had bold white stripes, and I worried that maybe it was too striking compared to the solids everyone else was wearing. My sister fixed the shirt, laboring to darken the white stripes so they didn’t stand out so much. She sent me the finished picture and I decided that I liked the white stripes better after all, and asked her to change it back, after which she sent me a dead squirrel in the mail and placed a curse on me and my descendants.

Just kidding. She said that, luckily for me, she saved her layer shots—I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I sense that it’s important—and she promptly sent me the picture with the smiling son and the white stripes. Isn’t she a genius? Let’s hear it for Mean Aunt!

Next year I think I’ll just send her random photos of family members taken at different points in the year and she can arrange us in portrait formation, giving me perfect hair and toned abs in the process.


At 12/05/2007 6:32 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

You're far braver than I am. It's been years since we attempted the picture thing--and the last time it was just the kids in it, with Dad behind the camera and me making faces in hopes that they'd smile. I think Mean Aunt could make some serious Christmas cash with her skills . . .

At 12/05/2007 7:20 PM, Blogger Michele Holmes said...

I so feel your pain! This year our family voted that our second grader would draw a picture of everyone in lieu of the annual Christmas card photo torture. We'll probably all look a lot better in crayon too.

At 12/05/2007 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

send me the picture, I want to see!

At 12/05/2007 8:53 PM, Anonymous marlene said...

send me the aunt holding the picture, I want to hire!

I remember those days with anquish.
Only four of us sitting on the couch but in the only good picture we need Mean Aunt to color in where...well, that was when little pre-school girls wore skirts,(short skirts) not the pants they wear now. Get the picture (not!!!)

At 12/05/2007 9:02 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

So why is your picture not posted here? Would love to see it.

At 12/06/2007 12:45 AM, Blogger The Mean Aunt said...

You're welcome. I changed a few other things that I didn't tell you about :)


At 12/06/2007 12:52 AM, Blogger Cheri J. Crane said...

Go Mean Aunt!!! And Stephanie! Stephanie, you are a brave woman to face the ordeal of a family holiday picture.

At 12/06/2007 12:54 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

You changed a few other things? So THAT explains my Farrah Fawcett flip hairdo.

Karlene, I'll send you the picture. Anon, I can't send you the picture--you're anonymous :)

Fact is, I wanted to do a picture so I'd have something to put in the envelope that wasn't a Christmas letter, because I didn't want to write one. Too lazy, and after Rob's letter, what was left to say anyway?

At 12/06/2007 10:20 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

This year I dressed my pit bull up as an elf and set her next to the bunny in a Santa hat. (The cat flatly refused to participate a second year even though I had a lovely angel outfit picked out for him.)It wasn't any harder than what you went through -- but I doubt it was much easier. I kept telling the dog to wipe the goofy look off her face, but it turned out to be the only look she has!

At 12/06/2007 12:04 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Add me to your e-mail list, Kerry--I gotta see this picture!

At 12/06/2007 12:25 PM, Blogger Julie Wright said...

after our last photo op as a family, we've given up. I wish I had a mean aunt to photoshop for me. I am a technical disaster and could never figure out such a thing on my own.

At 12/14/2007 1:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well but it on your blog or something Stephanie, and I'm bound to see it.


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