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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Freeze Frame!

Every Christmas Eve, my brother-in-law takes a family picture. I would share it here but I don't have a digital form of it. My brother-in-law--being a long time photographer in the purest form--uses his fancy camera with a timer (so he can run into the picture himself!) with the big flash thing. Anyway, even if I could post it, I'd have to receive written consent from everyone else in the picture to post it on the internet! So, no picture.

Of course, the whole picture thing on Christmas Eve is a lovely idea. I wouldn't have it any other way. We get to see how much the kids have grown, how fashions have changed, and it reminds us how fortunate we have been to have so many years with all of us together. But, you know, as wonderful as that tradition sparked an entirely different and not quite as wonderful tradition for me---it's become a barometer of how I feel about the way I look. Yes, yes, I know how awful that sounds. It's vain and it's self centered and just plain wrong---especially during such a joyous and meaningful season. There I am, celebrating with my family, supposedly honoring the true meaning of Christmas and yet I'm completely absorbed by what I look like. Okay, okay....I know that scenario makes me sound like...well....a...hmmm........shallow bitch. Just hear me out....please. It's just that Christmas Eve is sort of a "dress-up" night. So, I give a great deal of thought to my outfit, I spend extra time on my hair and make-up and I check myself in the mirror from every angle. I do not leave my bedroom until I am convinced that I look pretty good. After all, it's Christmas Eve and I have to look my Christmas Eve best---to celebrate with my family and honor the true meaning of Christmas. I can't do THAT looking less than wonderful (you see, I get it). And, I have to consider the picture. Because--the picture will make or break my vision of my Christmas Eve. Many New Year diets have started as a result of that picture! There was one year in particular that sticks out in my mind. I was wearing my much loved red wool blazer with gold-threaded Christmas trees embroidered on it, a pair of black velvet pants and a gold glittery turtleneck. My hair was a bit longer so I had it pulled back into a sparkely gold ribbon clasp and I had on some very festive, rather showy Christmas tree earrings. Just the height of Christmas fashion! When I finished getting ready, I recall thinking that I looked pretty good---even though I had gained a good deal of weight that year. My mirror told me that I had hid the weight rather well. When we were posing for the picture, it never occurred to me that a side view of me at the end of the group was not the most flattering. You know----turned to the side with a view of my stomach and ass cloaked in bright red. Why it never occurred to me, I'll never know. Although my brother-in-law typically delivers the picture to us on New Year's Day, for some reason, he gave it to Carmen a few days earlier while they were visiting with their mother. When Carmen came home, he handed me the envelope with a bit of an odd look. "What's this?" I asked. "Some pictures...." he answered. He watched me as I opened the envelope.....he already knew the problem. I flipped through some very nice shots of the kids opening gifts, the kids by the tree and a few of them with their grandmother. And, then, I came upon THE PICTURE. "Yeah, well, it was just the angle...." Carmen comforted me, knowing what I was thinking. I stood silent, gazing at this woman who I hardly recognized.....was that the very same woman who, just days ago, looked pretty good? I mean, why would this woman wear a bright red blazer that clearly does not fit? Look how it pulls across her ass! And, why would she wear those pants that make her stomach look like she is pregnant? And, why on earth would she put on a clingy turtleneck? Look at the rolls above her big stomach and oh my gosh..... it looks like her chubby face is popping out of a gold tube! And, who told her that her hairstyle was flattering to her chubby face? And, what the hell are those huge things hanging from her ears---clearly fat-lady jewelry!!!! This woman needs help. So, I gave my beloved blazer to a dear friend who always admired it, I threw away the pants and the sweater, tossed the earrings and vowed never to wear my hair like that again. And, of course, I planned to loose a lot of weight. Fast forward to the following year. Christmas Eve. Black pants, black sweater, hair down, the only remnants of Christmas adornment--a pair of tasteful Christmas tree earrings and a pin. I stood in the back of the group--safely tucked behind my children with Carmen covering at least part of me. Picture gets delivered on New Year's Day. I see it. Have to get rid of that black sweater, those black pants, need a new hair style, the earrings don't work, need to loose weight....a lot of it. Fast forward to the next year..........well, you get the picture here.......

As most years, my brother-in-law delivered the picture to us on New Year's Day. I hesitated to open the envelope and peer inside. Because.....this is the year when I am supposed to look good. Well, better, at least. There I was---in the back row, flanked by Vince and Carmen with my mother-in-law, Toni, my niece and nephew in front of me. Why in the hell did I wear that necklace?


Daffodil Hill said...

You are being much too hard on yourself, Judi Dear! I think you look FABULOUS, and I'll just bet your Carmen thinks so, too.

Anonymous said...

Feel free to give me the necklace. You know where to find me. I'll be waiting for the necklace! Any accessory of yours has to be great.
Happy N-Y!

Anonymous said...

No, give ME the necklace! PLEASE!
love you! Katie