Archive for June, 2010
Here’s a really nice short story we stumbled across by Thomas M. Ledin.
The Family Portrait
Christmas day, 1977 my family posed for a picture taken by Mr. Bellows, our next door neighbor. That photo has become the benchmark for all family portraits taken of my family since, not a single one has equaled its magnificence. In that wonderful picture my family is much smaller than it is today, there are no sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, or grandchildren, just my father, my mother, my brother, my sister, and me. We’re all sitting up amazingly straight, and our smiles are so perfect they almost look drawn on. This photo is entirely beautiful in its simplicity, and truly impressive in its rarity.
I admit that a good family portrait doesn’t seem like anything to get too excited about, but consider the fact that every year since 1977 my poor mother has tried unsuccessfully to improve upon that masterpiece. My mom has that picture hanging in an ugly gold frame, large as life, opposite the front door in her house. It hangs there as a trophy for all to see. “My perfect little family,” she says every time I follow her in the front door.
I can recall with more than a little guilt the years my mother tried to corral us into neat little two rowed formations for a photo, and the grief we all gave her. We never made it easy on her, whether it was bunny ears behind Julie’s head, or Josh pinching the sensitive part on the back of my arm, or my dad’s favorite, passing gas a second before the picture was snapped. From 1977 on, no picture that contained my entire family came out well. We got some nice pictures of individuals, even a group of two or three, but when any more than that were told to sit still and smile somebody inevitably messed it up.