The difficulty lay in the fact that the only ones who hang out together are Oz and Norm, and they are both wary of Mulder and Stevie. Plus, I wasn't going to look or smell familiar to them because the plan was to do a 'Photo with Santa.'
That's me and my sister on my very first Christmas. I actually don't think any of our family's Santa photos featured the classic 'traumatized child' but I was pretty confident that my pets would be up to the task.
Despite my attempts to make this year's photo easier for the pets, I knew it was going to be difficult for me and family helpers. First I had to find a Santa costume that met my expectations--you know, something with old-world Father Christmas details that would cost me an arm and leg and yet ironically end up totally hidden from view in the final photo.
My parents let me transform their family room into a mall Santa's winter backdrop, my dad was at the camera, and my sister Jenny and brother-in-law Matt wrangled the two most wiggly pets: Norm and Oz. I had confined them both in a bathroom, and sent Jenny and Matt to get them. Meanwhile, I grabbed the two more docile animals, Stevie and Mulder:
Unfortunately my beard and Mulder are the same color, so I should have placed him on the outside.
(Costume note: I foolishly didn't try on the costume until the night before the photo shoot, and if I had done so sooner, I might have been able to lengthen the pants and better attach the boot cuffs. Of course, the boots didn't even show up in the final photo!)
Then Jenny and Matt arrived with Norm and Oz, and it was go time. I COMPLETELY forgot to make a face for the camera and spent the whole time trying to talk the animals into staying in my lap. Just in case you were wondering why my eyes look a little...lifeless. Honestly, I'm amazed I remembered to even look at the camera.
We got about 3 or 4 shots total before Norm escaped--which tends to be the pattern every year. He is most wriggly, silky cat; he can get out every grip (except the one my sister finally used: the classic scruff-of-the-neck. Even though they were grabbed that way by their mom's teeth as kittens/puppies, I can't bring myself to ever hold them that way--unless it's time to get in their carrier).
But then Norm made his great escape, and Oz was quick to follow!
I cut the photos pretty small for my Christmas cards, which meant the full backdrop got mostly cut out. Next year the plan is to join the rest of the world in printing photo cards, instead of putting photos in traditional cards. While I love the idea of a little 3x4 living on someone's fridge year round, I think photo cards will ultimately save me money (boxes of cards + photo prints + stamps for an over 200 person Christmas card list can add up quickly), and will allow me to showcase these types of outtakes as well.
Here's the final photo that went out!
I hope you all had Merry Christmases and Happy Holidays!