It was December 17th, 2008, in Lake Placid when the
dreaded decision was announced: pictures for Christmas. As the cotton
shirt, a red, white, and blue one, rubs on my chest like a plague, I
think to myself, I’m always morose about picture taking. As I finish
getting dressed, I surreptitiously tiptoe to the mirror to make sure I
look OK and ready for the picture. Of course, like a bullet, my sister
sees me and howls like a coyote in a cacophonous voice, “HA, Ryan’s
looking in the mirror,” chanting on and on. I walk away in shame.
Suddenly, my mother tells us it is time to go. As we walk to the place
by the pier, I start worrying. What if I screw this up? What if my lazy
eye acts up and I screw up the to-be perfect picture. What if I get in
trouble for doing something totally accidental? Am I a bad person? Head
spinning, legs wobbling, I think I am going to faint.
“Ryan,” my mother asks, “are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” I say, maybe a little suspiciously.
My mother says in her sweet singsong voice, “OK, honey, stand right here
between both of your sisters.” Great. I’m always in the middle because I
am the youngest, which means I am the shortest. I want to desist, but I
know that this is important to my mother. So I walk over step by step.
Heart pounding, each step feeling like my heart beat is pounding harder
I squeeze in between both my sisters. My brain feels overloaded trying
to process everything, including keeping my lazy eye from squinting. I
squeeze my hands so hard it feels like they might explode. My legs start
wobbling and I can’t feel my toes. As I can sense the picture coming, my
sisters yell, “FUNNY FACE!” As the picture is shot, I swing my arms up
making muscles while my sisters hang off the rail. My mother, even
though it is important for this picture to be perfect, laughs with
“OK, OK, let’s stop acting like monkeys and take this shot,” she says
hysterically. This is the moment I realize that this is important to my
mother. Even though I don’t enjoy pictures, I know that this is
important to her. As we line up to take the picture, I take my normal
spot and my mother starts the countdown.
As I rip the itchy cotton shirt, a red, white, and blue one, off my
chest, I look in the mirror. Even though I hate picture-taking, I
realize that there are things my mother does that she doesn’t enjoy, but
she does them anyways.