My Holiday Tradition
Fun Stuff Holidays Parenthood

My Holiday Tradition

By Amy Morrison

I have one holiday tradition. One.

I take a picture of my family and I put it in an ornament for the Christmas tree (I also use it as my Christmas card photo if I get my act together.)

My older son will be turning nine this year so I’ve been doing it for eight years. You know how many years it hasn’t been a fucking goat rodeo? None. That’s right. Zero.

This year it started with me announcing that we will be doing the photoshoot on the Saturday (because it’s winter and it gets dark about 5:00 in the afternoon so it’s the only time we’re all home in daylight). This is usually ignored.

Saturday comes along and get myself ready, then I put a variety of sweaters out on each of the boys’ beds and tell them to pick one to put over their ratty Lego t-shirts. I think, “Choice will make them feel included! Just like having them pick out produce will make them eat it!” This is met with the same enthusiasm as amputating one of their toes.

Andrew gets ready and threatens the boys if they don’t get dressed, and I set up the tripod outside. I can hear the jingle bells in my head!

They reluctantly shuffle outside and sit on the front steps and I say, “Okay, guys we just need one happy shot so we can put it on our Christmas card and everyone can see how much you’ve grown.”

Then our neighbours are treated to me running back and forth while setting up the auto-timer and Andrew and I threatening and bribing our kids through gritted teeth.

It’s a magical time!!!

So I dug out all the years I’ve been doing this to show you just a fraction of the outtakes and the final shot. The funny thing is they don’t look too bad. I can totally understand how little old ladies think this the best time of our lives because you forget the screaming, back arching toddlers and the hot, sweaty anger of a family photoshoot. We look almost normal.

Mwhahaha! Success!

I would also like to point out that my husband Andrew has a freak gene where he is almost always photogenic. His whole family has it. No matter what angle you take it at, no matter how candid, those guys always look amazing. It’s annoying on one hand because I really have to work hard not to look like a crazed crack addict in pictures, but it really is helpful to have that constant amongst our three wild cards. It one of the many reasons I love him so.


I had a meeting to go to so I looked clean which inspired the first family photoshoot. The first two picture are an accurate depiction of how the shoot went, and the last picture was a complete miracle captured like the Virgin Mary appearing in a piece of toast.


Another final miracle shot taken by my bud Wendy. You can’t tell that my son was grouchy from not having a nap and that I was all puffy from being about four months pregnant.


Now that we had two kids in the mix the shoots got even harder. I have no make-up on but I’d showered so that was pretty darn good considering where my life was at. Happy baby, squirmy toddler, tired parents.


2009 is the year that was known as “the time Andrew wore that damn Santa hat.” At the time I thought it was fun and festive but it turns out that preschools ask for family pictures a lot for crafts and crap. It also turns out that this is the only picture we ever take as a family so the boys had crafts in June with the Santa hat picture. Ah, well at least I cropped out my bedroom slippers in the final shot.


Great, now everyone is able to run…WELL. The four of us are in the shot. Good enough!


Yeah, this year didn’t go well. We got new front steps though!


By the time I got everyone ready the sun was setting… our eyes. I gave up on the Christmas sweaters and just let them sit there in their sweat pants and hoodies. I figure it’s an accurate reflection of the time.


These are known as “the Canon years” because I got a new camera so the shots are crisper and nicer. The boys are getting taller and don’t fit on our laps as well though so we’re having to rearrange them. Smiling on demand has replaced sitting still as the new challenge.


This year the steps were wet because it had just snowed so we were sitting on plastic. No matter! This will be fun right?! Nope. Clearly this the worst thing I have ever subjected my kids to. I’m the worst ; ) I could have killed those little buggers because in the shots where my hair looked good they looked like they were standing in a soup kitchen line in 1932. Ah well, not of us are blinking and we look cleanish. Good stuff!


I took the time to straighten my hair and really thought I was getting my shit together – I even did test shots! The only trouble was the kids stayed in ‘test shot mode’ for most of the pictures. No matter. We got a decent shot in the end even though the boys look a little ‘smile-so-we-can-go-inside’ – I’ll take it.


I got cocky. We were on our way to a birthday party and I thought, “I know! I’ll take the Christmas photo while we’re all dressed up!” I set up the tripod, took a bunch of shots and said, “Yeah, I think we have something in there.” So the boys asked if we could do some “funny” shots. “Sure!” I said (because I’m not like your regular mom, I’m a cool mom.) Turns out that, no, I didn’t have something there (most shots one of us had our eyes closed) and the only good shot way the first frame of the “funny shot” session where Andrew was the only one doing the funny shot. Cue my photoshopping skills where I took a good Andrew picture and dropped it into our only decent shot. Whew! Problem averted!

Feeling good about my clever solution, I failed to notice the beginnings of the bird my younger son was flipping. I printed them this way.

How about you guys? Do you have a family photo tradition?

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