Is It Real or Just Another Highlight Reel?
The family stood together… a picture perfect site. There was mom and dad with their 2.5 kids beaming from ear-to-ear in their matching, embroidered Christmas pajamas. Their dog stood at attention with his new bone and bright red bow. In the background, one could see, the stockings were hung and spaced perfectly with OCD tendencies and care. Atop the mantle, an impeccably crafted ginger bread house, the kind that could make Martha Stewart jealous, was strategically placed front and center of the garland for all to see and admire. They looked like the typical, flawless family you find behind the glass frames of every Hallmark store in America.
As I continued to scroll through my news feed, picture after picture, each post was a slight variation of the last. Every once in a while, there was another type of photo thrown in the midst, ones that showed neatly stacked packages towering over Christmas trees. As I assume there was a tree behind all of that wrapping and plastic. These photos, even worse than the others, screamed – look at us and all the money we’ve spent – and they required a particularly lengthy eye roll and sigh before finally moving on.
Ahh yes! The pressure to snap the faultless photo that all others will envy can be truly burdening for parents. The question on everyone’s mind, will this year’s portrait qualify for the highlight reel? Sadly to say, ours was nothing but the contrary. Thanks to one very stubborn toddler and one very fussy newborn, we couldn’t get a single “picture perfect” shot throughout the entire holiday season.
We did, however, get a ton of candid shots that completely describe our family to its dysfunctional T. Here I am – still in my pajamas as family members pour through the front doors hours before expected. Here is my husband – less than thrilled to be spending time with his in-laws, but trying hard to put on a façade to please us all. Here are my parents – over opinionated and overjoyed to be spending the holidays with us. Here is my toddler – stubborn and demanding 365 days of the year, Christmas being no different and no exception to the rule. And here is my oldest – thrilled over all of the free entertainment. This is us. This is reality. We’ve come to represent.
Cut us some slack. I know I can’t possibly have the only family on the entire planet that had this type of Christmas. Someplace, somewhere there were other families going through the same struggles. Moms who discovered – no amount of bribery or treats – could get their kids to behave like civilized human beings and less like wild animals that escaped from the zoo. Please tell me I’m not the only one who yearns for this connection. For real friends to say: It’s ok that all your children ate was a buttered roll and cookies for Christmas, because God knows they won’t eat anything else! I need to hear: Dear friend, we did not take out a second mortgage to pay for the perfect Christmas. We did not tap into our children’s college fund to splurge on un-needed toys as well. You are not alone! I want to see the pictures of the exhausted, crying threenagers and the bored 8-year-olds sitting amidst a slew of new, unopened gifts. I need to know that my kids aren’t turning out to be as bratty as it seems and that this must be a normal rite of passage.
I’m so tired of scrolling through the highlight reel and crave to see something worthy of real. Something to let me know – You are human and so am I. After all, these are the memories – raw and reckless – that we will look back on one day with a smile and pure fondness in our hearts. Why chalk them up… (and photoshop them up)… to be phony and fancy? These are the frowns and squeals that made this the Christmas that it was – a holiday filled with loved ones in all of their truth and glory.
So you didn’t get the perfect picture… sit back, relax, and let it go… you are not alone and there is always next year.
Here’s a “like” for you… thanks for keeping it real.