The Art of Taking Pictures in Front of Other People’s Decorations

 Photo by  Sabri Tuzcu  on  Unsplash

Photo by Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash

You might remember that one of my children’s shared passions used to be wandering around the neighborhood looking at children to stare at. Well, we’ve taken our game to the next level this holiday season. Their new passion? Wandering around the neighborhood after dark and stopping to pose for photos in front of other people’s decorations.

The giant inflatable snowman at the end our street is particularly alluring, but the children are not too particular. To be clear, they are not too particular about which displays we take photos in front of. They are quite particular about literally everything else.

The giant snowman called to them one evening this week. It tends to do that right when we should be getting ready for bed. I wanted to resist and insist that they straighten up and listen to my directions for a change, but who am I kidding? That snowman is really big. It’s legitimately giant. I’m not overselling it. It’s truly a sight to behold. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it migrated south for a nice vacation after its stint in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

So, of course, we loaded up the double stroller and trudged down to the opposite end of our short street. None of the kids had shoes on and at least two were in pajamas. On the plus side, at least one of them had socks. We passed by the twinkling, multi-colored icicle lights on our neighbor’s house and the Santa in a fishing boat and Scooby Doo inflatables at a house further down the street. Neither of those were deemed photo worthy. We had a one-track mind. It was giant snowman or bust.

We pulled to a stop in front of the corner house a few seconds later. The four-year-old climbed out from his hideaway in the basket under the stroller and the seven- and two-year-olds clambered hurriedly out of their seats. We were discussing the best angle and positioning for our picture with the giant snowman when the house’s garage door started to open.

“Off the grass,” I whispered ferociously.

The boys scampered back to the sidewalk and tucked themselves behind the stroller. A man walked out of the garage, unlocking the door of the car sitting in the driveway.

“Freeze!” my four-year-old whispered, sticking his arms out to the side to better emulate a child-sized statue.

“Who needs to freeze?” my seven-year-old asked.

“ALL. OF. US,” the four-year-old replied. It was dark, but with the help of the glowing light emanating from the snowman’s giant stomach, I could see in his eyes that he was deadly serious. Good boy.

The man retrieved something from the passenger side of his car and retreated into the garage, closing it behind him. He may or may not have seen the three humans and one child-sized statue standing on his sidewalk about fifteen feet away, eyeing his giant snowman suspiciously, but the important thing is he at least pretended that he didn’t see us. If it came to talking, God forbid, I had hastily planned to say jovially, “What a lovely night to walk around the neighborhood and look at giant snowmen and not take pictures in front of them!”

Luckily for everyone involved, it didn’t come to that.

“OK. Hurry!” I implored. “Stand by the giant snowman now! We have a picture to take.”

And take that picture I did. If you’ve stuck with me this long, I’m sure you’re getting impatient waiting to see the giant snowman. Well, here you go, I guess.

 Amazing, right?

Amazing, right?

I thought we might be able to head home after the first picture, but I was wrong, obviously. The two-year-old insisted that we continue around the corner. She had spotted a normal-sized snowman and wanted to see that for some reason. When we got there, it was a huge letdown. Two-year-olds won’t listen to reason. They have to find out for themselves that normal-sized snowmen are boring after you’ve just been within touching distance of a house-sized one.

We did stumble upon a light display a little further down the road that was synced to music. That was fun but yielded only this picture of the four-year-old, so it was also a bit of a disappointment.

 Fine, I guess

Fine, I guess

I put my foot down at that point. When I say we’ve been walking around this neighborhood for an hour at bedtime taking pictures in front of strangers’ snowmen and enough is enough, my kids listen. Because I am an expert parent.

The seven-year-old raced ahead of us as I pushed the other two in the stroller back down our cul-de-sac. It was fine, though, because he was the one wearing socks. And with that, our evening adventure was over. But, our passion for photobombing other people’s decorations burns with an intensity that will not soon be extinguished.


If you love this post, I have some good news. My book, Fatherhood: Dispatches From the Early Years, is available at Amazon. And if you haven’t, don’t forget to like my Facebook page and sign up for the email list to get updates right in your inbox.