NOTE: Below is a December 2015 update to a blog originally posted in December 2013.
When it comes to getting a photo of Santa Claus, I am the “Eddie the Eagle” and Charlie Brown of photographers. My two daughters (14 and 10 in 2013) are completely embarrassed about my photographic ineptitude, among many other things of course. Each Christmas morning I face the forced march of telling the humiliating story of how I failed to get a picture of Santa once again.Below is part confession and part diary of my failed attempts to get a picture of Santa Claus for my kids. What started out as self-amusement on Christmas Eve 2005, has now become a Farrell household tradition of failure entering its ninth year.
2006: This was the first year of the elaborate, James Bond-like efforts that accompanied the bad photo. I slept on the couch awaiting Santa. He arrived and startled me. I grabbed the camera (yes, it was an actual camera back then), and dove onto the floor like an outfielder diving for a fly ball and rolled to get into position. Then, I barely got this shot as he was leaving through the chimney.
Pop Up Fact: In a pure coincidence, it strangely resembles my dad’s boot.
2007: Our “guard dog” didn’t even budge as a large, fat, red stranger walked through our living room. I actually slipped and fell and took this laying on the floor. That seems to be an early theme. It was really noble of me if you think about it.
Pop Up Fact: The dog’s name was Nixon. No, he was not named after President Nixon but rather famous singer Mojo Nixon. Really. Google it. He exists.
2008: This is the pièce de résistance of the collection, and not in a good way. Dazed and confused by Santa’s middle-of-the-night appearance I pointed the camera in the wrong direction. This one still cracks up the kids and I still act embarrassed, when in reality I am so proud of myself I can’t stand it.
2008 (con’t): Shortly after the money shot of my nose hair, I collected myself enough to try another shot. I just missed once again with an actual camera once again.
Pop Up Fact: This was the year that almost screwed up everything. Notice the hair tie near the ball of the cap. Well, this looked strikingly similar to the hair tie that my then 5-year-old daughter wore at school a few days earlier. Yep, she noticed that. That was when I discovered I was actually quite good at lying to my kids. I am not proud of that, but that doesn’t discount it as a real skill.
2009: Time to bring the Mrs. into this. This year, I had the shot all lined up until Michelle got in the way of the camera. This turned out to be a blessing as the kids were mad at mom that year instead of me.
Pop Up Fact: This was the year I became really concerned I was starting to run out of ways to mess this up.
2010: Santa’s sleigh stopped on the lowest part of our roof. Getting the moon was a nice touch really, but unfortunately still no Santa. They don’t teach you that in journalism school.
Pop Up Fact: A similar-looking sled has been hanging in our garage for 13 years. So weird, right?
2011: We were visiting Michelle’s sister in Battle Ground, Wash., so we had to improvise. This Keystone Light-inspired shot came after a night of playing pool, ping pong and darts in the loft-converted-into-a-tavern in their barn.
Pop Up Fact: Did you know Keystone Light offers a limited edition, collectible orange can? I didn’t either. We didn’t find it, but I assure you that it was not from a lack of effort. Again, not proud. Just fact.
2012: Santa bribed Elfi with his cookies. I would have thought Santa’s hand would look a bit older.
Pop Up Fact: Elfi is short for Elphaba from Wicked.
2013: Santa was busy this year. After eating his cookies, he did a “Santa Selfie.” Technically, though if an Elf took the picture it would be an Elfie. Your move, Oxford Dictionary! Then, he dropped off presents. After thorough tracking on NORAD, I knew he would arrive at 2 am so I set a timer to go off as I got tired. Again. Fortunately, the timer got him as he was finishing!
Update 2014: It would appear that our daughters (now 15 and 11) are in a tug-of-war with Santa, but in reality he is making a getaway and they are grasping for anything to keep him here just a little bit longer. They are older and wiser now, but still have one foot (via footy pajamas) in Christmas past when it comes to Santa.
The real question is, what are they holding onto?
Update 2015: Santa went on vacation. And so did I (literally and creatively). He looks rested, tan and trim. I look tired, red and bloated. I did manage to move away from the buffet line long to enough to nearly get a shot of Santa catching a wave. And of course helping others. My daughters said Santa looks dreamy. Is that weird? Anyway, 2015 brought another near miss in a long history of missing the perfect Santa pic.