Not What I Pictured. 

Holiday season arrives and some other chotches are finally hopping on the “Christmas cards are tedious” bandwagon. (I do love getting them. Just hate sending them.) If I have the time, I send out something to make people laugh.  That’s my favorite thing to do. I would rather make people laugh than land on the moon.  Also, I couldn’t handle the zero gravity thing.  There would be pee and brownie crumbs everywhere.  The other astronauts would hate me and throw me into space in my footie pajamas. Anyway.  Merry Christmas and happy something-so-you-won’t-feel-left-out holiday. I may not send cards this year. Know that you are loved or at least feign that you know it. Please send me a hairless cat as my husband refuses to give me one and I’ve got the 3rd child itch that I know is nuts… but I just want to dress something in silly clothes and coddle it for a few more years.

Every year, my friends get professional family pictures done and they look amazing. They send them to people as cards, frame them on their walls, make murals, and it’s all so nice to look at. I’ve never done that. My family never did that either. The closest we Veales came was getting featured in Cooking Light magazine for Healthy Family Vacations.  We weren’t faking it.  Every vacation we went on as a child was like a fun boot camp.  In one day we would windsurf, play tennis, bike, swim with dolphins, and get sunburnt. The next day, more of the same. No kidding. My dad was called “Times-a-Wasting Veale.” I’m the same way. I can’t sit still.  Anyway, Cooking Light photographers and writers followed us around on a normal vacation day (seriously). They took pictures of us windsurfing, water skiiing, biking, playing tennis, playing guitar, singing, having picnics and hog-tying (okay not that).  We were all so excited to see the magazine and eagerly awaited its arrival.  When it finally arrived, we ripped open the package, ignored the recipes, and looked at the pictures of ourselves. Martha looked like a teen model, Mom looked like Barbie, Dad looked like a GQ model, Charlie looked like a movie star, and I looked like the neighbor’s kid who comes over to play Parcheesi every day without warning.  Hooo… Oh… That’s what I look like? How did this happen? Am I adopted? I had always been funny. Weird funny. Silly funny. Crazy funny. But I think the moment I saw that magazine, I truly found humor.  The white haired girl with the baggy clothes and braces. It was as if I had just popped in from behind the rocks and said, “Can I play with you guys? My family just left me here.”  That was the moment when picture perfect showed me who I really was. The square peg. The one who could make people laugh in spite of themselves. When I make someone laugh, I feel beautiful and flawless. No photo has ever given me that.

Yesterday, my friend excitedly showed me an ad for a pin-up professional photography session. Hair, make-up, outfits included… Not going to happen for me. Like the time a friend was selling me on a cruise (never been on one, never will) and she said, “It’s like one big Vegas party for 5 days.” That sounded like hell to me.  And so did hair, outfit, and make-up.  I asked her, “Do they have something like a Huck Finn’s mother photo shoot?”  I love that my friend can look like a beautiful pin-up and has a blast getting dolled up. I love other people’s photos. The hair, the lipstick, the jewelry, and all the stuff that makes me feel like someone dressed me up in a Hello Kitty outfit and told me to sing Enter Sandman.

This season, take your portraits, and enjoy the beauty of your family.  Or… don’t.  Take a picture of your cat and photoshop a reindeer lamprey on its back. Give a portrait of authenticity this year. I have, and very few people still like me.


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