The Family Christmas Portrait

Merry Christmas from my family to yours

A few years ago, I ran a small photo studio. I had my share of uncooperative subjects: cranky toddlers, sulky teenagers, and bridezillas. I dealt with all of these situations with grace and professionalism and the sessions always turned out well. But there is one photo challenge that leaves me frazzled: creating the family holiday portrait.

We have a bad habit of waiting until the last minute to get into the holiday spirit. Therefore, we have to scramble to shoot the photo, design the Christmas cards, and place them in the mail.

This year we decided to take the photo after church since we were already dressed in decent outfits. My daughter, Nee, and I prepared the equipment while KayEm and the boys waited. I asked Nee to sit for a few test shots so I could make sure that the exposure and focus were correct. She complied for a few minutes and then the complaining began.

“Daddy,” she whined. “I don’t want to take any more pictures. Can we just get everyone else so we can wrap this up?”

“Fine,” I said. “Go get your mother and brothers.”

Instead of going inside, Nee yelled, “MOMMY! COME OUTSIDE! WE’RE READY!”

“Stop yelling,” I said trying not to raise my voice. I pointed to the door and instructed Nee to quietly get the rest of the family.

My son, N, burst through the door like a Tasmanian devil. As he whizzed past me I noticed that he was dressed differently.

“Why are you wearing a different shirt?” I asked calmly.

“Because Mommy told me to,” he said as he ran around in circles.

I turned towards KayEm who was adjusting Nee’s hair and asked her why she had changed N’s shirt?

“I wanted him to match the rest of us,” she said.

I tried to remain calm as I explained why the shirt wouldn’t work. After a few minutes of debate she agreed to change N’s shirt.

Several minutes later, N came back outside wearing another shirt. I still wasn’t pleased by his choice, but I kept my mouth shut.

As I arranged the family around our playset, I could tell that my 3-year-old son, X, was getting a little cranky because we were cutting into his nap time. I hastily set the timer and dashed into my position next to KayEm before X lost interest.

I took two more shots before I was satisfied with the photo. Then I made the mistake of asking the family to take a few shots inside the house.

“I don’t want to take any more pictures,” complained Nee.

“Daddy, I just want to play now,” said N.

“No more pictures, Daddy,” said X.

“Fine!” I said and sent everyone on their merry ways.

All of my frustration dissipated when I viewed the portrait on my computer screen. Despite all of the drama associated with the creative process, I was pleased to have a nice family portrait to share with my family and friends.

Merry Christmas,

About author

Frederick J. Goodall

Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at or on Twitter at

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