Behind the Scenes

It’s not quite the top-secret ‘Barbara Walters Most Interesting Person of the Year’, or the People Magazine Sexiest Man of the Year, but there has been a certain level of buzz and enthusiasm for our annual Christmas card and letter. I think the excitement began several years back when I was still of child-bearing age, and I’m told the readers of our letter would scroll down to the bottom of the page before reading anything else to see whether or not I was announcing the upcoming birth of another child. Let me assure you, there will be no such announcement forthcoming. Well, I’ll clarify…if there IS, then you can most definitely look out your window for a Star in the East and follow it, because it will be the Second Christmas Miracle.

The taking of the annual Christmas card photo is a feat in itself, but years ago Mike and I decided that we would always be in the picture, which has its advantages and drawbacks. One of the drawbacks is the inability to be on the other side of the camera, attempting to get everyone to look in the right direction and not cry or fight or make faces. So for all 24 years as parents, we’ve done all we can do to create the perfect environment, at the perfect time of day ~ after naps, but not with sleepy faces ~ and before a meal, but not too close to a meal so the kids aren’t crabby and irritable from hunger. Through the years, as we’ve added baby after baby to the family, the annual taking of the Christmas photo has been anything but ‘perfect.’

This photographic event has taken on a life of its own, which I have somehow allowed to pressure me into the one-upping of last year’s picture. After September, I start devoting a teeny portion of my brain to coming up with a new and creative color scheme for everyone to wear, and attempting to get everyone in the same place at the same time. So with seven kids and a son-in-law, this year’s photo session was the Christmas equivalent of the parting of the Red Sea. We had all of the kids home for Thanksgiving, my parents were visiting so my mom was available to take the picture, and the color scheme was neutral enough that everyone could grab something from their closet for an impromptu snapshot. Within a matter of minutes, hair was straightened, makeup applied, outfits donned, and the photo was taken. No more pinching of inner arms, or bribing for smiles, or pausing to address wayward behavior ~ in the bathroom with the wooden spoon. Nope, this one went off without a hitch.

In an attempt to keep the suspense without giving too much away, here are some behind-the-scenes photos…

I’m practically a movie-set director, staging the scene that works so perfectly in my mind:

But not quite getting the cooperation I am looking for:

And for the first time, we needed to call in reinforcements: the LADDER!

Today, less than 24 hours later, the family has disbursed. Mike and the team have left for their game in Arizona, Matt raced back to Cal Poly to take his finals, and Cooper and Kristen have gone back to their place. But for 30 minutes of Thanksgiving weekend we experienced Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards Family with no tears, no attitudes, and a beautiful Christmas picture and letter ready for publication. Let the festivities begin…



  1. Mrs. Crawford says:

    I can hardly wait to get mine! 🙂

  2. Jill says:

    I love you mommy(: Singletary christmas card.

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