Friday, December 10, 2010

Family Photo

There is no such thing as a berry-colored sweater. The sweaters currently displayed on store shelves are labeled “cerise,” “red raspberry,” “modern fucshia,” “boysenberry,” “magenta” and “burgundy.” Though the color variations are minute, they are different.

I know this because my mother-in-law assigned our family “berry” for the family photo that’s to be taken during the holidays. I need two sweaters and three neckties.

The photo idea is simple: Girls in plain-colored sweaters, guys in light-colored shirts and ties. Three families, three colors.

But, the berry-colored sweaters my mother-in-law and I saw in early September were sold out by early October, and I’ve spent the past six weeks trolling the internet and scouring clothing stores for a similar color and style. And neckties? It appears that manly men wear as many different shades of pink and purple as women.

We corral nine kids and eight adults together for a Converse family photo every Christmas, but this one will mark Ken’s folks’ 50th wedding anniversary, so we’re hiring a professional photographer. He or she will ensure our hands are folded in our laps and that we’re all looking at the camera at the same time. A few weeks later, we’ll have an example of our best behavior that’s appropriate for framing.

The upcoming photo shoot will be the second my family of five has endured this year. We sat for one in June to celebrate my mom’s 75th birthday. (It too, was color-coded by family, though I suspect setting up a shot of two families whose children are vastly different in age will prove easier than arranging three families with teenagers, even with color-coding.) The best shots of the June photo shoot occurred while the photographer was moving chairs: My husband and two boys twisted their faces into absurd shapes; the boys covered their sister’s eyes and tickled her; my brother and his wife flipped their kids, ages 5 and 2, upside down. If I study those photos long enough, I can hear the laughter and feel the pinches that produced the squeals.

So secretly, the Converse family shots I’m more interested in reviewing are the candid shots the public will never see. They’ll be a bit blurry, but I know they’ll generate deep, from-the-gut horse laughs and be the subject of “I remember” stories for years to come.

Let’s just hope they occur after the formal portrait for which we’re color-coordinating.