About a year after Andy and I moved into our house, we were attempting to tame the mad jungle that was our yard when Andy stood up and started yelling, “Google! Google!”
We hadn’t yet been married long, so I was unable to translate this into: “Hey Kirstin, that car that snaps photos to post on Googlemaps is here, so stand up and smile with me.”
That is how I ended up with a picture of myself picking weeds, bent over with my butt in the air, posted on the internet for all eternity.
Andy, incidentally, is smiling and waving.
I figured it was no big deal. Eventually, Google would come around again, archive the old photo, and replace it with a new one.
Ten years later, and the photo of my house still includes me and my behind—because apparently Google thinks it’s more important to design lifesaving autonomous vehicles.
Or possibly the photo’s permanence is purposeful. Maybe Google has a collection of embarrassing snapshots, and someone saw mine and said, “Ha! Get a load of this one, Sergey! It’s a keeper.”
I should be used to unflattering photos. My parents have a collection of them from my childhood years when I didn’t know how to smile. There are two ornaments that hang on my parents’ tree every year. The first was made by my sister, who’s always had a talent for art. It’s a Christmas tree with green fabric carefully glued to one side and red on the other, not a scrap of wrongly colored fabric daring to step out of place. Her smiling picture rests in the center. My ornament has green and red fabric mashed on top of each other with glue globs, except in places where the cardboard underneath is showing. You can’t touch it because the glue’s still drying. In the center is little me, brown ringlets carefully curled, grimacing fiercely for the camera.
Annabelle has inherited my childhood inability to master the smile. She grimaces, but she adds her own touch of flaring her nostrils. She’s also never looking at the camera. I’m proud to say she outdoes me.
Colin and Andy both close their eyes for every picture we take. Seriously—Every. Picture. We. Take. My reaction to this is an exponential curve in which I’m cool about it until about the twelfth time, after which my annoyance level skyrockets. We all interpret this data differently. I think, “Man, am I ever easy going about those two ruining every picture,” while Colin and Andy think that a 57th take is maybe pushing it, and why can’t Mom be happy with 56 pictures of them with their eyes closed.
Baby Carson is smiling goodness when I can catch him just right, with two dimples and a cleft chin. You’d think he’d be the hard one.
Every year I have dreams of a Christmas card photo that’s like my sister’s ornament—with all of the pieces positioned neatly and artistically in their proper spots—and every year I get one that’s more in the style of my ornament. Here’s what this year’s card looks like: One smiling baby. Me, yelling, “Gaaa! You blinked again!” Andy and Colin, smiling with their eyes closed. And then Annabelle, gazing off into the distance, grimacing and flaring her nostrils, looking like a little philosophical bull. Happy holidays from the Kaisers!