Awkward Family Photos

My brother got married a couple weekends ago.

I am truly happy for him, but I kind of have a love-hate relationship with weddings. Receptions are fun and it’s always a good day to celebrate love. But I am not a big fan of ceremonies, not just because I have a small boy sitting next to me that has absolutely no patience for anything that doesn’t include snacks or dinosaurs, but because sometimes I don’t either.

I’ve heard some uncomfortably intimate vows exchanged, seen unbearably long slideshows and heard some pretty painful renditions of classic love songs that were maimed beyond recognition. I know a lot of people that would call these awkward happenings “good TV” but I don’t enjoy watching people embarrass themselves.

Thankfully, for my brother and sister-in-law’s sakes, the wedding didn’t suffer any of these foul-ups.

All in all, it was a pretty smooth day, no overly complicated problems to solve, no bridezilla moments. The most awkward and difficult portion of the event (in my opinion) was trying to assemble our herd of Cubans for a family photo.

It’s incredible to me that a family that gets together every 6-8 weeks for birthdays never takes a moment to snap a few family photos. Yet at every wedding, we make it priority one to get every relative, significant other and pet into one happy portrait. It’s usually my grandma that seizes what she perceives to be an opportune moment and rounds up the family with an urgency that rivals any disaster preparedness drill. And there are enough of us that when we stampede towards the nearest exit for picture time, we basically clear a room and probably leave any remaining guests to wonder if there was a fire or other emergency that they should be filing out too.

With so many people to gather, it’s very difficult to get 100% turnout on the first try. Once we start lining up in photo-formation we quickly find that several people are missing. Then with the rest of the family still in their portrait-perfect rows, we usually send out a small search party with the aggravating task of dragging in the stragglers.

Call us hardcore, but we don’t accept many excuses for not showing up for family photo time. You were next in line at the buffet you say? Well, you’ll just have to line up again later. The baby needed to be nursed? Just bring him along still plugged in, no one will care, we’re all family. We’ll be sure to tag the blanket in the picture before we post it on Facebook.

It’s a real headache to get over forty people in one frame, all looking in the same direction, smiling with both eyes open in fewer than ten attempts. Then when you consider the pandemonium of howling back-arching babies, whiny kids and grouchy adults, it compounds the difficulty exponentially.

I honestly don’t remember if we ever got one successful family picture at this last wedding. It’s a hassle each time, but I’ll be really sad if it never happened.

Because even though I am complaining and irritated that my son is a sweaty mess from running laps around the reception hall like a sugar-crazed maniac and my hair and makeup have so deteriorated that I look like I was just discovered by a search and rescue squad after wandering a mountainside for a week – I still want to preserve the moment. I want to look back and see all the people I love in one happy picture.

There are some pretty obvious reasons for capturing moments either with pictures or little celebrations like counting your blessings or making the most of time together. But I would like to suggest another reason: to keep your heart tender, full of grace.

Think about how you feel towards your loved ones when you look through wedding albums and baby books or when you pour yourself into planning a special anniversary date or even how you feel when you tell the world on Facebook that your kid just got Student of the Month. You are proud. You see them in a more forgiving light and warm feelings that are often forgotten in the little annoyances of daily life are rekindled.

I actually hate to get my picture taken and sometimes it’s an inconvenience to stop and take pictures. But I never regret that minor interruption when I look through my albums full of friends, family and happy experiences. As I thumb through old photos, I never get tired of marveling at how blessed my life is.

When I am reminded of how truly precious the people in my life are it makes it easier and even a pleasure to respond with love and grace.

 

Angie Derrick 10/10/2012 ©


  • I believe in Jesus, loving people, living fully and creating good things. Whether it's art, food or finding solutions, I am always in "creative mode". With this blog I hope to encourage and help others to live in whatever "mode" God has called them to.

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