The family Christmas photo displayed on a holiday card is memorable. It's a picture that speaks volumes about the ties that bring relatives together - the smiling faces, the arms linked together in a "Kodak moment" - a flash of history captured forever.
This was our year to snap the family clan on Christmas Eve. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, I'd like to add a few more.
"OK everyone!" I announced cheerfully as grown-ups and little ones gathered bleary-eyed at breakfast. "This is the day we'll take our family photo!" my enthusiasm lost on a crowd still waiting for hot chocolate and Starbucks caffeine.
It was the picture I'd looked forward to for weeks since I'd seen an Eddie Bauer winter catalog. Decked out on the cover was a joyful family wrapped in warm sweaters, a freshly cut Christmas tree nearby. The multigenerational group standing in a snow scene nearly shouted "Merry Christmas!"
That image could be us. In our wintry clothes, we would be the picture of the chilly Northwest, even without a hoped for snowfall.
"Let's plan to be ready by noon," I instructed as we cleared the morning dishes. "We can all stand in front of the Spruce trees next to the house."
There was a quiet moment of disbelief before panic set in.
"What?" daughter Traci gasped at the news. "We're taking the picture OUTSIDE?!!!!"
I looked at her in wonder. Wasn't Eddie Bauer all about the outdoors?
Frantic calls for borrowed sweaters soon had Traci's troops dressed semi-warmly as we all gathered in front of the camera. Her sister and family sporting thick wool sweaters appeared comfortable and serene.
"How did you know," Traci called to Tiffany from her side of the staged portrait, "that we were taking the picture OUTSIDE?"
As Traci's teeth chattered, her sister answered matter-of-factly that she'd been told.
There was a pause - then a quick snap.
"Mom always liked you best!" Traci sang out with laughter, as other chuckles and teasing joined in.
It was the "picture perfect" family photo.