Wednesday was the day of our annual family portrait. When I say annual, I really mean the inaugural annual family portrait, of which I will speak more presently.
It’s funny how one event can spark another. In November we were burgled – a horrible event – which cost us far more than the value of the personal effects that were stolen. But the burglary proved the catalyst for another event – redecorating the hall.
This is a mammoth job as the hallway is the hub of the house. You can’t get from A to B in our house without a trip through the hallway – it’s like Damascus, only colder. There are nine sorry looking doors off of our hallway, and they all need a lick of paint, and don’t even get me started on the walls.
The idea behind the redecoration is simple, we needed a lift after the burglary and it seemed like a good idea at the time. I had a deadline – which I missed – of two weeks to complete the work, and I have just about scraped over the finishing line at the end of week 5 of The Project.
In our hallway is a cupboard where everything that is too important to put in the garage but doesn’t yet have a proper place to live is kept. It’s a bit like a stationary cupboard, a wardrobe, an airing cupboard and toy chest rolled into one.
Well, the cupboard was just one of the many jobs to tackle in my quest to revamp the hallway and cheer up my wife in the wake of our misfortune. Loly and I began to remove the boxes, clothes, toys and electrical goods from the cupboard and came across the precious family photographs.
If you have read my previous posts you will know by now that we have three children in our family, aged 15, 12 and 4 years. We began looking through the pictures as you do, and began to notice a worrying trend. When our older children, Aisha and Marcus were small we took lots of pictures. Had an ice cream? – lets take a picture. Got a new bike? – snap that! – you get the picture, if you’ll excuse the pun.
We snapped everything that moved and most things that didn’t. But along comes child number three, Rafael, and we… well, we get complacent. Complacent and busy as any parent of more than two children can tell you. So suddenly we have a collection of family photographs with the kids growing up and not one proper portrait of the family since we became five.
Having been made a very good offer for a photo session with a particularly fine local photographer my wife decided it was time to right a wrong. She made a few calls, cajoled my parents in to tagging along, and we were all set.
Let me tell you now my wife is an organiser. The big day arrived and she had prepared well, clothes had been selected, washed, ironed and ready. Children were scrubbed and shiny, hair and teeth immaculate. We arrived at the photographers studio in good time and she ran through what she wanted from him. A series of formal shots, individual and group, followed by a quick change into smart casual wear (colour co-ordinated of course) and we were in to the fun shots.
Nanny and Grandad arrived and they were ushered through the process by my wife who ran the whole set like a seasoned pro. Even the photographer announced his pleasure at her detailed planning even down to the poses we would sit.
The only spanners in the works were – us. Ever tried to get that magic shot of a group of people where everyone looks their best? They are as rare as hens teeth, and our family proved no exception. One otherwise perfect picture spoiled by an untimely blink, resulting in my daughter looking asleep in the picture. Another ruined because my four year old son Rafael keeps looking at the monitor instead of the photographer, and so on, ad infinitum.
Three hours later we emerged into the bitter December cold clutching a price list for prints and a cd to browse through containing a couple of hundred images. The shoot wasn’t exactly an ordeal and we got some priceless quality pictures with my parents that I, and I think they will cherish for many years to come.
So here we are a six weeks after our horrible intrusion and I am taking stock, reflecting on a chain of events that has seen much good come from evil. Our hall is now a haven of beauty in an otherwise tired and ugly house. It has inspired my wife to plan many more labours for me as she seeks to lay claim to a building in which almost every wall is stamped with the personalities of those who came before us.
Far away in distant Los Angeles, in Miami, and in distant Guayaquil in Ecuador, our extended family have seen their cousins, siblings, daughter, auntie and uncle as they look now, courtesy of my brand new Facebook account, not as they were two years ago, when last we met.