"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The things I do for Christmas

My family and I did two important things today:

1. We took our annual Christmas picture.

2. We got our (live) Christmas tree.

The tree was pretty inconsequential. The picture - not so much.

In the olden days, we went to a "professional" photographer for the holiday pix. I'm using the quotes because the studio was one of those 1-hour places in the mall that have the appropriate backdrops but don't care if your baby is spitting up formula through the entire 10-minute session.

Then we got smart and started doing our own.

Of course, we had to have the whole family in the pictures, which used to mean the dog and cat. One year, we tried to include Ben, the gecko. Turns out Ben's very small, not very photogenic, and considered to be an appetizer by the dog and cat.

Those pictures were hectic enough, but now that we have two horses, the ante has been raised considerably. We take everyone out to the Silver Rose Ranch in Chino Hills (where the horses are boarded), find a green spot and take as many pictures as possible, in the hopes that one of them will look good enough for a Christmas card.

For the first time anywhere, I am going to show the outtakes of this year's session. This is what we deal with:

In this first shot, notice that Mikey the dog wants to get down because he does not like sitting on the bench's slatted seat (in theory, I agree, it's not comfy).

Katy, the cat, wants off the bench, off the ranch, and back at her nice house. The older she gets, the more she hates this day, and usually coughs up something disgusting on the carpet later, just to punish me.

Frostie is the chestnut horse to the left. At this point, she doesn't want to look at the bench because it wasn't there this morning and if she doesn't look at it, it will go away. Her son, Snoopy, however, wants to eat the bench because he's ADD and wants to put everything in his mouth...

Including our son, Marcus. His shirt and hat were endlessly fascinating, and I spent most of the time pulling his big face away from my teenager's neck. (Hey, I got it - the next book will be about horse vampires!)

Here's a little closeup:

Notice my right hand trying to get his attention while the taut lead rope tries to tug him away. Good sport that he is, Marcus smiles through the whole ordeal, while Katy is still determined not to pose for the papparazzi.

We finally got Snoopy's attention, when...

Frostie sees something in the bushes and gets Dale's attention, which makes Katy think she can make a break for it. At this point, only Snoopy and the dog are camera ready.

Twelve shots later, we finally had a picture no one would cringe at when we sent it out to friends and relatives. Here's the one we picked:

Okay, so Katy's still not smiling, and Frostie's ears aren't pointed forward, but five out of seven of us were facing the camera, so ya gotta take what ya can get.

It was also the millisecond before Snoopy made one final attempt at the teenager.

Now I just have to write the Christmas letter, and decorate the tree, and buy some presents, and...



Ali said...

Snoopy is the cutest horse! (I can't remember if I told you that I grew up with horses, and I had them for most of my life.) Wow, he's adorable. Ha. Leave it to me to talk about the pets, instead of the people. *grin*

The pictures came lovely, Gayle! Thank you so much for sharing them. :-)

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

What a challenge - but it still looks like you had fun. I enjoyed the outtakes.

sanjeet said...

I grew up with horses, and I had them for most of my life.

Work from home India

magicumday said...

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Helen Ginger said...

I think you should send out a card with the perfect pic on the inside and one of the outtakes on the back. It would be hard to choose, though, since I think they're all cute!

Straight From Hel

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