“Now listen up, people!” I feverishly eyeball my family in the rear view mirror as I pull into the park on two wheels. “We have fifteen-minutes to get a decent family picture for the Christmas card, so phones stay in the car. Books too, Laney. And no running, jumping, yelling, screaming or touching unless the photographer tells you too. I will not hesitate to shut the wi-fi down for the entire weekend. Got it?”
I watch a universal eye-roll from all of them. I can’t see Corey, but I assume he agrees with the mob, if he is listening to a word I say. In an attempt to decrease the amount of pain inflicted on all of us, I booked a “mini-session” which consists of fifteen minutes in a pre-determined location with just enough time for us to want to murder each other with fingers crossed for a good shot. I throw the van in park and my family falls out like hostages arriving to their execution.
“Hey Angela!” I wave to our photographer as I approach while she sets up the cozy holiday scene.
The rest of my family moves at snail-like speed, “Lets go. Pick-up the pace.” I hiss out under my breath.
“Are you ready for us?” She waves us over and begins to place us in the bed of a pick-up truck with giant wrapped presents. With six of us, we are squeezed pretty tightly with presents on each side. Already sweating, I take a deep breath to relax and accidentally let out a loud fart. Our neatly stacked family scrambles like roaches when the lights pop on.
“Oh give me a break! I wiped most of your asses, caught your puke and cleaned up your crap for years. It doesn’t smell that bad. Get back over here!”
My baby boy returns to the scene by climbing in the truck from the side. “Stop it, Austin!” Of course before he can stop he tears a hole in his knee. I look up to the sky, “for the love of all that is holy.”
“Sorry, Mommy.” Austin bounces back into place.
Angela arranges us again in a loving family pose, only this time she has to hide Austin’s leg.
“Put your phone away, Andi!” James yells to distract me.
“You too, James.” Laney quietly throws out.
“Ugh, idiot.” Andi begrudgingly slides her phone in her pocket and James does the same.
The Star Wars theme song begins to play and Corey hops up to grab his phone. “Oh Ruby I really need to take this, honey.”
My face is stone. If I ever had the ability to shoot fireballs from my eyes, I pray today is that day. I imagine I resemble Darth Vader, daring Corey to move just one inch before I obliterate him and his phone.
He slides his phone back in his pocket. “I’ll call ‘em back in a few.”
My mask melts away and my best ‘I-love-my-family-and-the-holidays-so-much’ face returns just as Angela asks us all to look her way. I manage to spit out just loud enough for my family to hear, “you all better smile like your lives depend on it.”
With a quick turnaround, I was able order the Christmas cards and an ornament for the tree. This is first family photo we’ve taken since Austin and after the shenanigans it took to get it, I’m not sure there will be another until they are grown. I head out to grab the mail, I’m excited to see the package from the print shop for Mrs. Ruby Errore. I can’t wait to check them out, so I pop open the box and look at my crazy, but beautiful family. Their smiles bring the tiniest of tear to my eye and remind me that even with the shenanigans, I am so grateful for the space they hold in my heart. As stressful as the holidays are, I do get nostalgic for all the memories that swarm in. From Andi’s first Christmas to the year I was pregnant with Austin and even when it was just me and Corey and Bambi, I love my crazy life and this crazy family of mine.
I’m not sure why it took me a second to look down at the message on the card. The nostalgia is quickly washed away while I shake my head in disbelief as I read:
Merry Christmas from the Mitchells
Michael, Trixie, Bob, Tatiana
Are you freaking kidding me? My family’s picture with the names of strangers and not even enough strangers at that. Who the hell are the Mitchells and why are they on my Christmas card? Did the Mitchells get a Christmas card with:
Merry Christmas from the Errores
Corey, Ruby, Andi, James, Laney, Austin
Standing in the driveway as the snow falls down around me on the 20th of December. I realize there is only one thing to do. I head inside, stamp and address all seventy-five cards and drop them in the mail.
Merry Christmas from the Errores and the Mitchells.