Every holiday, it never fails. At some point, someone has to say it, “everybody gather round, let’s get a picture”. Soooooooo, everyone gets up from their comfortable position, crams awkwardly up against one another, and waits.
“Whoops, we are going to need a camera”. After a brief intermission, a family member returns from the bedroom with the camera, which has not been used since the last family gathering.
“Oh crappit, the battery is dead. Everyone relax for a second, but don’t go anywhere.” No one has ever left the scene of the family picture, because we all know that it would mean certain death.
“Here we go, everyone get ready. Say cheese….”. No flash. No click. I am in a room full of the most intelligent and educated women in west Tennessee, and not one of them can figure out how to work the camera. The same camera that they couldn’t work the last holiday, and the one before that, and so on and so forth. My back is sweating. I was frustrated at the act of taking the picture from the word jump, I am really agitated now. I look at my brother, who gives me an eye roll. Half of him is frustrated with the taking of the picture, the other half is praying to God that I don’t go full flipping Donkey Kong, and start drop kicking nephews, head butting drywall, and biting the corners off of the concrete fireplace. He is well aware of how quickly this scene can turn Jerry Springer. I am coming unhinged.
At some point, between a mom, some aunts, and a cousin, they figure out how to get the camera to snap a photo. “Cheese. One more. Wait. Back up. Don’t move. Cheeze. Straighten your hair. Wilson, stop pouting. Ted, stop being a dweeb. Breemon, wake up. Cheese. Fletcher, get your finger out of his ear. Archer, stop eating the fake fruit. Grayson, is your sister still breathing? Andie, stop picking your nose. Cheese. Ohhhhkay!”
Back to the couch. All the frustration that goes into taking a picture. The same picture that I have been getting frustrated over, for almost four decades. I don’t understand the importance of the picture. It seems really stupid. At leased it SEEMED really stupid until a couple weeks ago.
Amanda and I were on a mini-vacation in Gatlinburg, TN, when a lady, who looked to be mid-sixties, approached and asked if we would take her and her husband’s picture. Of course, I was happy to take the picture, and I just assumed that her husband was just going through the motions, like all men. I snapped about ten quick shots and returned to her, the camera.
As she excitedly began scrolling through the ten, almost identical, pictures of her and her husband, she let out a gasp and began to cry. She wrapped me up in a hug and continued to moan. She said over and over again, “thank you, thank you, thank you.” She was so happy. She was so full of life. She was full of excitement and gratitude. She was overwhelmed with emotion.This was her “thing”. This was her blanket. Her insurance. This was her acknowledgement that her husband would not be around forever, and her insurance that he most certainly would. This was a demonstration of love- a moment of pride. It was her way of being able to show the world how much she cares and how much she is loved. This is her placing her family on a pedestal and shouting that she is glad to be a part of it. It was a showing of loyalty and unconditional caring.
As the couple walked away, it all made perfect sense. The pictures, the holidays, the frustration, and the bickering. It is all a sign of love, and pride in your family. I feel fortunate to be allowed to be in a picture at all. Let alone in a picture, where you can’t just walk out of it. It’s the picture you are in it, for the arguing and the smile, the disagreements and the fun, the good times and the bad.
Say cheese. Smile big. Know it means something. I need to get over myself, it’s not all about me. Squeeze close. Be patient. They will eventually find the button. The memory will be preserved. It will mean something to them. Take the damn picture, and then get back to the game.
Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,