Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Another Successful Holiday Card

Holiday cards are symbolic for me in a way I know they aren't for most people. I love to get cards from my friends and family members with pictures of their adorable children doing things children do: playing in the snow, splashing in the pool, mugging for the camera. Those cards symbolize normalcy to me. Normal families have plenty of pictures of their normal children behaving normally. I always assumed they didn't have to make the decision about whether or not to send out a holiday card based on whether they had even one picture in which all their kids looked normal. That's my criteria. I need one group picture in which Jonah doesn't look autistic. It helps if the other kids look good too, but all I really care about is that Jonah isn't playing with his fingers, biting at the base of his thumb, or flapping his hands. That's the way you can always tell the autistic kid in the picture, by the way. Just look at the hands.

This year, I got a great picture. Well, technically I didn't get it, but a photographer was able to get a good picture of all the kids in which Jonah doesn't look autistic. It doesn't qualify as a great picture by my mother's standards, which require that all subjects be smiling and staring at the camera, but I think it's sweet. Jonah is looking down at Hilary, his favorite sister, who sports a rather serene smile. Erika is rocking back a bit, almost laughing at something. Gretchen is in profile. Only Aaron actually looks at the camera. So this year, I sent out a card, which is something I wasn't able to do last year.

What's ironic is that, in considering this year's crop of cards, so many of my friends have opted to use the wonders of digital photography to design cards with separate pictures of their kids, instead of one group shot - an option I had always rejected in my quest to do what I thought normal families did. I guess I'm not the only one who finds it difficult to get a good picture of all my kids together. Maybe it's not as much about normalcy as I thought. Maybe it's just about being realistic about the nature of children.

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