Photo Finish

Every year around this time, the local volunteer fire/rescue squad comes around from door to door seeking donations. This is one door to door solicitation we actually welcome, because these are actually the men and women who will come to our house if we need help and they are, in my mind, rather unappreciated (even by me...until I need them.) As a thank you for a donation, they give you a gift certificate for a free family portrait, to be taken at one of the fire houses in a week or so. We've always donated but never taken them up on the photo.

This year for Christmas, my mother-in-law presented me with a toddler sized turtle neck and then trotted out photos of Tim and both his sisters wearing said turtle neck, followed by the statement that all she wanted for Christmas was a photo of the doodle in the shirt. Aside from the fact that I find it hilarious that my mother-in-law saved this shirt (this from the woman who called us up not three weeks after our wedding to casually mention to Tim, "Hope you didn't leave anything important in your room back home because we've sold, trashed, or donated everything in there." And not because they needed the room - that room sat empty (seriously, devoid even of furniture) for the next 8 years til they sold the house), and aside from the fact that the shirt is not anything special, it does make shopping for her pretty easy.

So, as I've been trying to figure out when and where to get this photo taken, the firemen came and went and walking by the counter last week I spied the postcard reminding us of the free portrait. The lightbulb went off and yesterday I dressed us all for church in "family photo friendly" clothing and stuffed the turtleneck in my purse for a quick snap after the family photo (they insist on the full family photo before they'll do kids on their own) and we were off.

We headed to Burger King for a quick bite after church because it was just across the street from the fire house that was hosting the photos. While there I noticed that the kiddo had green marker all over his face. So I scrubbed away in the bathroom and got him presentable enough. As I got him situated back at the table, I noticed that his best khaki pants were covered in green marker. (He never comes home from church dirty - unless, it seems, we're going to go get our photo taken.) So ok, fine, we'll just tilt him such that, hopefully, his pants won't show. Or maybe it'll be waist up - we can work with it.

After lunch, we cross the street and look around for the door, only to see a little note saying the location has changed. Thanks to my handy dandy new smart phone, we get directions to the new location and make our way there. It's now about 1:20 - 40 minutes til meltdowns of epic proportions if a nap is not imminent. But we cross our fingers and hope for the best.

We have to circle the fire house looking for the door to the Bingo hall (which we only know is the photo location thanks to a sign on the main door, but of course the Bingo hall itself is not labeled in any fashion) and when we finally find it, we walk past probably 12 families all sitting in little groups of chairs chatting away. Optimistically I mutter to Tim that they're probably waiting for their photos to be printed. But when we see the sign in sheet with 15 names, only 3 checked off, we realize that hope was in vain. And so we decide that there is no way we'll make it - because I just don't think a photo of him throwing a fit in the turtleneck is really what my mother-in-law was going for. And so I guess I'll be getting his 3 year portraits taken in mid-December instead of when he's actually 3.

At the end of the day, all I could think is that most of the time, free never works out to be as good a deal as you think it should be.

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