Thursday, October 9, 2014

Suitable for Framing

Rhonda, the kids, grandkid, and I got together Sunday and put on our very best (or close to it) to take our Christmas picture. Yeah, it seemed a little early to me too, but to beat the rush, I guess it’s a good idea to get it done sooner than later, or at least get it over with.

It was rather chilly, more November than October; cold weather can hurry an otherwise slow process. “Stand here, move there, let’s try the bean field, sit on this blanket, how about with the fire truck, okay, just a few more, maybe some with the pumpkins.” It’s times like that where I find smiling especially challenging.

Generally, I am rarely satisfied with how I look in photographs (or the mirror for that matter), but I always hope for a little help from the camera. I can almost picture my school pictures from each year in my mind. Oh, the horror.

In the one for my high school senior year I am wearing a suit: a mint-green coat, green-striped tie, and green plaid pants. I think the shoes (thankfully hidden from the camera) were some brown/cream two-tone platforms; flashy, even for 1977. Up until then I had never seen a get-up quite like it, and I have not seen one since then either. It truly was one-of-a-kind, and I thought I looked good in it. But then, of course, the pictures came back from the studio with a different story to tell.

Judging from what I see on Facebook, it seems that many people are pretty happy with how they look in pictures, as they put them up for all to see. A series of black and white photographs I have seen recently stands out among the others. The four Brown sisters from Connecticut have had their pictures taken together every year since 1975.

The annual photographs were taken by Nicholas Nixon, one of the sister’s husbands, who, after the first year, asked if he could do the same thing with the sisters standing in the same order. As I looked at the pictures I was thankful for the wisdom and willingness of all five, but at the same time I felt sad as I watched the girls grow older far too quickly, almost as if I were Rod Taylor in “The Time Machine.” The passing of time happened all too fast.

Most families have photo albums they can page through to look back at the years; we have many, but not too many. What if the Brown’s had skipped a year or two because it was inconvenient, one of the sisters didn’t feel like it, or they weren’t getting along that year?

In the past, including last Sunday, I have grimaced Grinch-like when asked to sit for more than one family picture. It’s obvious the camera doesn’t slow time down, but it does capture that moment for all time.

Because of the wisdom of my wife and daughter, we pose at least once a year (usually more) for a group photo. It’s not always matchy-matchy, and every one looks better than me, but that’s okay – I’m the oldest. Later, we will pick out one for our Christmas cards; every year we care enough to capture and then send our very best.

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