Pretty much every year, Corinne and I head out to St. John’s on an autumn afternoon to take a walk through the fall colors. And pretty much every year we literally drag some kids with us to get some photos.
It’s a grim family joke – whose turn is it to be a miserable crab this year? Someone will be sick. Or hungry. Or tired. Or hurt. Or entertaining Aunt Flo. Or just inexplicably, inexcusably, unjustifiably grumpy. Guaranteed.
In fact, I think we might have blown it off last year after truly wanting to put a bullet in my (or 2 or 3 boys’) brain two years ago.
But this year we were at it again because (SPOILER ALERT!) we really felt like we could check off some great Christmas photo gifts for grandparents and/or co-parents.
And it went wonderfully. We got a ton of really fun pictures. And each one tells a story.
This one says: “We both have to work on Saturday. But we can meet you there on Sunday … after church … and letting the dog out … and some clothes drama … and, wait, we should have something to eat…. We’ll be there a little after 1:00.”
This one says: “A personal, meaningful gift for Mom that’s not going to cost me anything? Yeah, I can stand to hang out with you guys for a little bit for that! I can on Sunday, but I work at 3, so I’ll need to leave by 2.”
This one says: “Hey, I’m gonna go to the Renaissance Festival on Sunday, okay? WHAT?! Whatever. When push comes to shove, I’m a great kid and I’ll be there with a smile on. But I AM going to slap you REALLY HARD, right across the face, as part of a super-funny knock-knock joke. So happy last day of Slaptember!”
This one says: “I’ll be there. In fact, I’m going to get invited to go to the movies on Sunday and I won’t even ask, because I know this is important to you and Corinne. And I love you, Dad.”
This one says: “I don’t want to be here. I REALLY don’t want to be here. But I understand. This matters to you. And it won’t take all day. And it will be something nice for Dad and for Grandma and Grandpa. So I’ll come along. And I’ll smile. And it will be real. Cuz I love you, Mom.”
This one says: “Yeah, yeah, yeah! Take my picture! No, hold on, let ME take the pictures! Hey, Kyra’s here in the woods! Wait – my stomach hurts.”
And this one says: “It takes time. And there may never come a time when every part of it will be perfect. But sooner or later we’re all coming to realize that – on some level – we ARE a family. On some level, we’re all coming to realize that the people who are loved by the people I love somehow matter to me. Their happiness makes someone I love happy. And their sadness makes someone I love sad. By the transitive property of love, I guess that makes us family.”