Every year around this time, we have our family photo taken. This used to mean packing up the kids and going to a portrait studio, where we could always count on a trained professional to eventually hurl a stuffed animal at us and demand we leave &

but not before making us look through our entire package of portrait options. We, of course, never actually purchased any of those packages because they all had the same sequence of photos:




My daughter sticking her tongue out.




My son picking his nose.




Me putting both kids in a Vulcan death grip.




All of this captured in front of a snowy backdrop and available in 8x10, 5x7 and wallet-sized prints.




For this reason we started taking our own family portraits a few years ago, using the ease and mobility of digital photography to transport our children to a highly secluded area where, upon arrival, I informed them (1) we are not actually on our way to Disneyland, (2) no one can hear them scream, and (3) no matter how miserable they are, we're not leaving until everyone in the picture LOOKS HAPPY!




Sure, my children may hate me now, but someday, when they have their own families, they'll look back on these times and realize: Hey, I hate to admit it, but my Dad was right &

it's probably too late for litigation.




Being miserable, of course, is the foundation of any memorable family tradition. While it's true that actually going to Disneyland would certainly be fun, particularly if I found a way to include it on my expense report, the question remains: Would it be as memorable as watching Dad trying to beat the automatic shutter-release, only to snap yet another shot of what appears to be our family under attack from a giant, blurry buttocks?




I don't think so.




Why?




Because in the time we would have spent waiting to get on ONE ride at Disneyland I will have photographed my rear end &

on average &

30 times. Therefore, through sheer repetition alone, I have already dug a deeper groove in my children's memory than anything they'll experience at the Magic Kingdom. That, of course, doesn't count accidentally stumbling into an employee break area where a headless Mickey and Pluto are yelling at each other in Korean.




My point is, each family has an obligation to instill at least one tradition everyone hates. That way, no matter who's mad at whom, when it comes time to participate in the annual Tofurky toss, everyone can put aside their differences and agree as a family, "This is really stupid."




It's also important to remember that as children get older they can find comfort in these traditions, particularly when deciding between (a) continuing to live at home after graduation or (b) exiting the stage with their diploma and immediately driving to an apartment locator service.




Possibly in Sioux Falls.




Because of this, we will once again be heading off to take our family portrait, and in the process creating the kind of memories my children will have for a lifetime.




Assuming, of course, my butt doesn't get in the way.




You can write to at the Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR 97439, or visit his website at /blog/