It’s 7:00am on Christmas morning. I hear stirring upstairs so I rush to the bathroom to throw in my contact lenses and wash my face before the anxious littles attack their gifts. I throw on a sweatshirt while exiting the bedroom and prepare to stand guard at the bottom of the stairs so that no one is able to start opening until I say, “Go.”
My husband makes his way out of bed and lights the fireplace. I keep one eye on the stairs while turning on the Keurig and then race back to call roll and see if everyone is now awake and ready for presents. They are.
I get out my camera, my husband uses his phone to take video. And, like the paparazzi, we wait to capture every one of their steps and reactions as they race down the stairs to see their piles of gifts.
I tap away on that button, trying to catch surprised eyes and pleased lips that turn upwards.
“Turn it so I can see the front.”
“Is that what you wanted?”
“Don’t cover your face with it, hold it nice so I can see you and the truck.”
I take picture after picture after picture.
And, this year, I’ve resolved not to do it.
Why? I’m not sure it’s healthy. Here are three reasons I’ve been stewing over since last year:
Reason 1: I totally miss the moment. To be honest, I only ever see our Christmas mornings through the lens of my camera. I rarely give two-handed help to children who can’t seem to get the wrapping paper off because that would require taking a hand off the shutter. I don’t talk with my children during that special time, I talk at them. Their morning is spent getting and then posing and mine is spent directing the show. Truth is: It’s so much work I don’t really enjoy it.
This year, I think I’m going to be like Elsa and let it go. I think we’ll capture those initial surprise shots and then I’m going to try to put the camera down and just be there, with them, being a part of the fun and interacting with them without a camera or phone in between us.
Reason 2: I’m not in any of the pictures. I’m a bit of a photo book addict. I’ll admit it. Shutterfly loves me so much they probably have me on some VIP customer list. But, I notice every year when I go to finish our photo books that I’m not in any of the holiday pictures. Some years I wonder if I was even there. If I’m completely honest, I’ll confess that I’m not begging to have my no-makeup, hair disheveled, 7am Christmas morning photo taken. But, I think it’d be healthy for me to (I’ve learned lot about going make-up free this year.) It also makes me wonder: What am I really teaching my kids (especially my daughter) about where her value is found if I will only be photographed after a half hour of grooming? Hmmm…. This leads me to reason three.
Reason 3: I sometimes wonder if we take too many pictures. We live in an age where we photograph and share just about everything. (Did you catch what I had for lunch on Instagram?) I’m beginning to wonder whether or not this is healthy for our children. My older children now know that smiling and standing still is a requirement for any special occasion. Yet, I know they don’t like it. They’ve just learned that it’s the price they pay for going somewhere fun or for participating in a celebration. I make them stop enjoying and pose so I can capture it. Sometimes I make them stand there for as long as it takes to get all four of them smiling. This often involves bribery. But, other times, I’m embarrassed to admit, it involves threats. Wow, even writing that sounds horrible. I make my children stop being in the moment and then get angry and threaten no dessert for the week if they don’t smile. Ugh. I act like I care more about a good picture than I do about their feelings. (If emoticons were at all appropriate in blog posts there would totally be a sad face here.)
This Christmas, I think I’m going to minimize my photography efforts and, instead, maximize the amount of time I spend enjoying our time together. No one really needs 342 photos of just one morning anyway, right?
What do you think? Do you find yourself behind the camera so much that you miss the moment?