“Better hurry,” my wife Kara said. “There’s not much time.”
Our son Evan was perched on her knee, issuing warning coos. To the untrained ear, they might have sounded like happy-baby sounds, but we’ve had enough practice to know that the thunderheads would be rolling in soon.
“This stupid camera makes you punch seventeen buttons in the right order to set the timer,” I said, trying to stay cool. “I feel like I’m playing Simon over here.”
If you’re unfamiliar with Simon, it’s an old game that made you punch brightly colored buttons in increasingly complicated sequences, accompanied to the sound of robotic beeps. Believe it or not, Simon actually used to keep children entertained, but you have to remember that this was before Nintendo or Miley Cyrus had been invented. Before Simon, kids spent all their time wearing tri-cornered hats and chasing after a metal wheel, trying to keep the wheel rolling by smacking it with a stick. And also avoiding the plague, which back then was called mouse flu.
“OK, I think it will work this time,” I said, pressing the shutter button and running towards the couch. The way our camera works, when the timer is set, you get a series of long beeps followed by a couple of short beeps, which sends the signal to the dog to start sniffing your crotch. I suppose this might count as a canine version of a holiday greeting, but it doesn’t make for the best Christmas card photos.
Kara and I finally decided to break down and send a few Happy Holidays cards this year, though we haven’t quite worked out how to take a cute family photo, which is a prerequisite, if for no other reason than to prove that you can get everyone to sit still for ten seconds. We might just give up and choose an easier way to pass the time, like juggling flaming wreaths or figuring out what to get my mom this year that isn’t a sweater or jewelry.
We’d put off beginning the Christmas card tradition for many years because once you’re in, you can never get out, like the mafia or an alumni association mailing list. Once you send that first card, the only way out is to fake your own death.
But now that we have a baby of inestimable cuteness, we decided that it’s time to bite the fruitcake and start sending some cards around.
“Smile, everybody,” said Kara as I jumped onto the couch beside her.
“WAAAHHHH!” said Evan. Despite my best efforts, the dog heeded the signal from the camera just in time for the flash.
“Dude, the dog just did it again,” I said.
“Hey, where’d Evan’s other sock go?” Kara asked.
And so it went for nearly an hour. Trilogies have been filmed with fewer takes, and still we didn’t have a winner.
I’ve been campaigning for us to just send around our outtakes. Outtakes are always the best part of the movie, especially a movie with Eddie Murphy in it. Besides, taking 700 pictures to get one decent, calm shot of our family is basically the same thing as Photoshopping the love handles off of the model for the cover of Vogue. Reality has not been accurately depicted.
But Kara thinks we have the potential to get a shot in which the two of us, the baby and the dog are all behaving ourselves relatively well. She also thinks that root beer doesn’t get as cold as other liquids in the fridge. She has many crackpot ideas.
“We’ll try again tomorrow,” she said.
And so we will. And probably the day after that, too. Anyway, if you’re on our mailing list, I hope you’ll enjoy our first Christmas card, which should arrive in time for St. Patty’s Day.
You can say cheese with Mike Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.