Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To My Parents, Who Make Funny Faces

December in our family is not just about Christmas. It is about birthdays--two of them, in fact--my mom and dad, the love birds who are five years and one week apart. I could probably say something about both of them being Sagittarius--I do, after all, have a history of writing horoscopes--but truth be told, I don't know a lot about their shared astrological sign. What I do know a lot about is their shared tendency to make crazy faces in photos.

We recently stumbled upon a few prime examples from their youth, and my parents were just silly enough to put them into a digital format and send them to me. ME, who has a BLOG. Didn't they know that these photos would eventually find their way onto the interwebs?

But see, that's the thing--they don't really care. In my family, there has never been a lot of vanity. It takes quite a lot to embarrass one of us, and I consider that to be one of the greatest gifts that they could bestow on me and my sister. When we were growing up, comedy and kindness were always king in our house. Fart jokes trumped poise-and-beauty most days of the week, and when a camera came out, we tried to make nice faces--we really did--but more often than not, one of us looked ridiculous, and the most ridiculous photos always seemed to be the ones that made it onto the fridge.

The photo at top features my mom and her sister, and I see so much of me and my sister in their expressions. (Especially after a drink or two.) When we were growing up, Aunt Ginny and her family would come over for holidays, and we would watch our mother transform from a vacuum-wielding stress case to a goofy sister. Between the two of them, there would be jokes mumbled under their breath followed by loud eruptions of laughter. Each year as we got older, the mumbled jokes got a bit louder (and crasser), which was how we learned to be quite polite yet incredibly bawdy little ladies--one of the more important lessons I've learned in my life, I must say.

My dad, on the other hand, has always been an outright goofball--there's nothing subtle about it. I looked through one of his photo albums recently from when he was a kid and was delighted to see that he was making a funny face or doing something unorthodox in nearly every photo. On Halloween, his friends dressed as space rangers or cowboys, and there he was, dressed in a hula skirt with a coconut bikini top. And here he is again in the photo below--yup, he's the one on the right, in yet another bikini top. (Who the other two guys are, I'm not sure, but, um, they seem to share a similar sense of humor.) I guess I didn't realize that people took pictures like this in the '50s. Didn't their mothers scold them for making faces? Or tell them not to cross-dress? Did I imagine that everything looked like a Norman Rockwell painting? Well, clearly it didn't--my father is living proof.

And so, for their birthdays this week--my Dad's was the 13th and my Mom's is today--I wanted to pay homage to their goofy sides. This personality trait is one of my favorite inheritances, and, I believe, has contributed greatly to the richness of their lives. To know my parents is to know great fun. After all, nothing is so serious that we can't laugh about it.

1 comment:

  1. That strip of Mom and Ginny is my favorite thing ever. We have the best parents! Even if it's annoying that their birthdays are so close together, and so close to Christmas.