My family took the easy way out – again.

We had our annual chance to do a professional portrait and decided to let (insist) son Gideon pose solo for the umpteenth time.

Oh, we’ve had three-person portraits before and every now and then I get an updated ‘rant’ for this column (amazing how editors can crop the Lance and Woolly Mammoth!), But this year , we ended up placing all our hopes on Gideon again.

My wife and I are always committed to doing better next time, but we have an unfortunate Ko (dak) addiction problem.

Let’s face it: Curing a cold is only a little harder than having three or more people all available, all photogenic, all well dressed, all tanned and rested, all cooperative at once.

There is a reason why “Synchronized Looking Halfway Decent” cannot field enough competitors to be an official Olympic event.

Aristotle claimed that nature abhors a vacuum. Well, he doesn’t really like letting people create a treasured memory, either.

Mention an appointment for a session and Murphy’s Law kicks in, producing a spontaneous rash of forced overtime, hot flashes, nasal torrents, migraines, bloating, ineffective toothpicks, pimples , nervous tics, suicidal ice cream cones, whining, strands of hair apparently controlled by an Indian snake charmer, blinking eyes obviously trying to send a coded message revealing the plans for D-Day, big- parents whispering “DO YOU THINK WE ARE DONE TO TIP THIS FOREIGN PHOTOGRAPHER?” “, Etc.

Mankind is fortunate to have individuals who can counteract all of this and produce great heirlooms. As someone should have said, “When God got tired of tidying up chaos, he left the job to professional photographers.”

Certainly, the Almighty is a mite irritated by photographers who use his son’s name to no avail the first time they meet Little Johnny, who has disputed appearances. (“Marlboro doesn’t have enough filters to make THIS kid look good! Maybe if I tie a chop around his neck, the shutter will open.”)

Even worse than the ordeal of getting a group photo is the stressful experience of deciding to buy a la carte or spring prints for the full package.

It’s heartbreaking to think of glossy photos of your loved ones that are casually shredded. And I’ve heard that the studios are stepping up. (“No hard feelings. For every leaf you throw away, we also uproot a rainforest tree and tell an Afghan orphan that his pet lamb is being moved to a farm in the upstate …”)

I realize that the charmed people whose life is a great Christmas letter (“While I am in Tahiti doing our colonoscopies – photos included – and decide to offer this island to Suzy or to Harvard University as wedding gift… ”) will despise me for settling for shortcuts. They’ll probably pontificate something like “Well, if that really meant anything to him, he’d take the time to do a good portrait.”

Honestly, I regret that photos of me, my brother and our parents together are rare or nonexistent; but I won’t apologize for being realistic about family portraits in the future.

I wouldn’t sleep better thinking that one day my great-great-grandchildren will fight over a framed image of ancestors struggling to look comfortable for two seconds.

“Hmph. You can have this one, sister. But I am looking at the photo of the woolly mammoth! “

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