And so it is with this photograph.
To her credit, Lauralea was always the person who would push for us to go to these Sears and Woolco photography shops to get our family photo done well before Christmas. Mainly so that we would have something to send our families who all lived far away.
I usually balked at it, I was a poor model. I don't know how to smile and those times always forced me to face that personal pit of self doubt.
These appointments were fairly complex ordeals. To get us all there and looking at a camera with no cranky looks on our faces. As you can tell, Lauralea was the most enthusiastic of the bunch on this day.
There is a look in Johanna's eyes that appears to be a silent cry for help. A smirk on Hillary's face that indicates that more is afoot than we realize. Thomas is moving in and out of many levels of fear, and Micah seems just disengaged with the whole deal.
As I used to claim back then, my moustache always made me look like I was frowning, even if my lips are smiling beneath it. But my eyes aren't smiling, so it's probably safe to say I'm present mostly in body. The look on the others faces is probably due to me and my strategy of getting them all facing the same direction. (I seem to remember when my own family went for family photos that my dad applied some pretty strong "strategy"to me too. It was't that effective back then. Too bad I couldn't remember that on this day.) And what was I ever thinking with those glasses?
But the mom who tried hard, to get personalized Christmas gifts for our parents, she is smiling.
She still tries really hard. To get good gifts for people, and to do what she can to get the family in the same place for a few moments of shared life.
I am still shaped by the mood captured on film that day. Maybe with more clarity, a tinge of regret?Maybe with more ideas of how that day could have gone better if I had the wisdom then that I do now. But that's the deal isn't it? We don't have the wisdom and experience of a life lived when we are young. That only comes with age. We live with what we've got, that's just how it is. But I think it's how we deal with those stories that shapes our future selves.
Families are unique and funny things, bringing out the best and the worst in us.
And that is why we have Awkward Family Photos