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She Said, Z Said: ‘Tis the Season for Awkward Family Photos

For moms and dads trying to present a picture of togetherness, holidays pose a real challenge

Z: I miss the days of awkward family photos on holiday cards. With all the collage cards, a family never has to take a good picture again.

She: We manage to take pretty bad pictures every year.

Z: Yeah, but that’s intentional. It’s ironic bad photography.

She: No. It’s because I have a bad camera, and — despite thousands of dollars spent on braces — Koss won’t smile with his mouth open.

Z: He knows how much it bugs you.

She: Yeah, and then there’s you, who thinks no matter how ridiculous your pose is or how weirdly you’re dressed, or undressed, that you’re being funny.

Z: I know how much it bugs you.

She: But you’re right about other families. I have seen very few awkward family photos this year. Most of the cards only have photos of the kids, and even then, the kids didn’t always pose together at the same time.

Z: Because they don’t have to. They can snap a cell phone pic and be Photoshopped in later.

She: Tell me the days of the forced family photo aren’t over.

Z: They may well be.

She: The next generation’s David Sedaris will have so much less material to work with if kids just sit in front of their computers and snap their own photos, and then text them downstairs for mom to assemble on Costco.com.

Z: My best family photo session was when the photographer kept calling my brother Bruce, “Ken.” There were a lot of laughing faces in that picture.

She: And did you all wear clothes you would never wear in real life?

Z: We wore matching colors, so yes.

She: Kids are much better dressed these days. I even saw a couple of kids in tuxedoes this year.

Z: What’s up with kids in tuxedoes? Are they mini James Bonds, or is there some fashion trend that I’ve been left out of?

She: Our kid will barely wear long pants, but everyone else’s kid is wearing tuxedoes for the holidays.

Z: Do they have to wear white tails after 6?

She: Who knows? I’m happy if our kid’s not wearing the same clothes he slept in.

Z: There also don’t seem to be that many bad Christmas sweaters in evidence. I don’t know if I even recognize this holiday any more.

She: I could probably pick up some awesome matching sweaters for us at the after-Christmas sales.

Z: No. Besides, there are still a few holdouts with some goofy looking families. And I’m not talking about any of our friends, so if you’re reading this, you’re safe.

She: Then who ...?

Z: Just go with it.

She: They’re not super goofy, just kind of funny. Like everybody is in sweats, or they’re all dressed in the same color.

Z: But you make us do that every time we go to Disneyland.

She: We’re doing it ironically. Kind of like the people with teenage kids who gave up on making them pose together and just sent adorable photos of their kids when they were 6 and 7.

Z: My favorites are the ones with all boys and no parents in evidence. There’s an underlying tension where you know that the kids started beating on each other as soon as the photo session was over.

She: Aw, how sweet.

Z: I give gold stars to any family who did actually pose together, even if it isn’t possible to get everyone looking their best at the same time.

She: Ah, but that’s where Photoshop comes in. Or we could just make resolutions to be nicer next year.

Z: Yes, dear.

— Share your awkward family photos with .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Or you can tweet her @lesliedinaberg but she might not understand what you’re saying. Click here for previous She Said, Z Said columns.

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