I’m still uncertain of why the photos hung on the Christmas tree for so long at the Martin house. Mercifully, I think my mother has mostly retired the old, laminated images with mall Santa Claus — the ones with a hole punch at the top to allow for a ribbon loop used to hang them.
Those always seemed to be the only old holiday photos in our collection. They were as amusing as they were embarrassing.
I won’t hide from them. I’m pretty good at laughing at myself, and I’ve always been good at laughing at my siblings.
Let’s just say I’m pretty glad we’ve developed into the digital age where we can store any number of photos on our phones or tablets and share them. Some end up being just as embarrassing — like me in the oversized, adult footie pajamas purchased for me a few years ago — but at least they’re a little more private.
The pictures don’t sit on the tree for any passing person to snicker at.
But more importantly, we have additional photos to treasure and look back at. In the old days, you had to bust out the Polaroid machine or the old develop and print cameras.
Some families did a lot of these types of photos. Others weren’t so lucky.
I tend to think our family lacked on the amount of photos from holidays. No one goes without these days because your phone does more than any old family camera used to.
The mall Santa photos were an annual chore. When we were little, we cried. When we were older, we got annoyed the younger kid cried. When we got a little older, we probably grew tired of taking those pictures.
Kids today tend to ham up for the pictures. Take a selfie on the cell phone or pose with family and friends for a quick portrait.
I also tend to think social media has increased the availability of professional family photos around the holidays. We all know one or five people who take pictures for a living or as a serious hobby.
You can schedule those informal shoots and post them to Facebook. Grab the best one and use it as the subject of this year’s Christmas card.
This has become the norm in the blink of an eye.
Yet, many of us — myself included — still drag our kids to the mall for a visit with Santa Claus. Just don’t try and bring your cell phone out.
No, no. You have to pay those exorbitant prices for the cheapy Polaroid style photos. Get them in a keychain or in a weird keepsake frame. You can even get them in Christmas ornament form, slightly more intricate than the ones of my youth.
I know my son is part of the “most photographed generation,” yet, again this year I will get those old style photos with Santa and probably hang them on the Christmas tree. Maybe I should go collect some of the old ones with me and my brother and sister and put them back up next to Cale’s.
Hey, it’s only fair.
Once embarrassing and tedious, old holiday pictures become treasures to us as we grow older and get more sentimental. Be thankful for all of them, even the ones you wish were never taken.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.