The year was 1985. It was the first time we’d all been together for Christmas in years – the perfect opportunity for a family portrait.
We all took our places. I was front and centre with my newly acquired Barbie doll in hand.
Weeks later, mum had a bunch of copies enlarged and posted to family across the country. As she straightened up our framed copy on the wall, that’s when she saw it. You had to look closely but once you noticed it, you couldn’t ‘unsee’ it. The best and worst practical joke my brother had ever played; ‘flipping the bird’ discreetly, close to his chest.
I can laugh about it now, but mum wasn’t laughing as she called to apologise to each family member who already had the photo framed on their walls.
What secrets are hidden in your family portrait?
Maybe noone’s making rude gestures or doing the classic ‘rabbit ears’ behind dad’s head but what does your family portrait really say about you? It doesn’t show the hard times, the tough times, the heartbreaking times… or the silly times, the fun times, the deepest times. We all put on our best smile for the family portrait but when the camera’s turned off, who gets to see the real you?
Too often we assume that everyone else has it all together and we’re the only ones who haven’t got it quite right.Their life looks just like their family photo… mine, not so much.
I used to think like that. But over the years, I’ve learnt that everyone has something going on in their lives at one time or another. The only ‘normal’ people are the people you don’t know very well yet.
Maybe you think your family portrait would look better with someone else in the picture. One of my closest friends is going through her third divorce at the moment and her words ring in my ears: ’If I knew two marriages ago what I know now, I’d never have left my first husband.’
A great philosopher once said:
Ever worry that it might be ruined
And does it make you wanna cry?
When you’re out there doing what you’re doing
Are you just getting by?
Tell me are you just getting by, by, by?
Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone’s bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
You’ve gotta get up and try, and try, and try
Your life may not look like your family portrait every day, especially first thing in the morning but that’s okay. It’s still beautiful.