On Easter Sunday I set out to get some pictures of the family.  I thought getting just a handful of good shots could hardly be impossible, right? Looking back over these pictures later, I laugh–both at my children’s inexhaustible store of non-picture-perfect expressions, and at my foolish optimism in thinking any other outcome likely.

200 pictures on my camera yielded a few cute ones; but I think the imperfection is lovely, too. The comic relief is another dimension of memories worth keeping. I imagine my children laughing over these pictures as adults, teasing each other about weird expressions and Mom’s fashion choices. Seriously, she made you wear that hat?! I hope they have that sort of relationship all their lives, and that joy in a shared history, goofy family pictures and all.

On the back porch swing at my parents’ house–where I used to perch with a book on balmy afternoons.

I could not get all three to smile at the same time.

She smiled…and they chose that moment to consult together.

Loving brothers…and skeptical sister.

One great smile, one pensive look, and one evaluating her exit strategy.

At last–the shadow of a smile on E’s face.

This is the best family shot we could muster. B was talking (no surprise there), C was thinking about something, and E was yelling. And her hat and dress were both askew.

Actually, this is representative of all their personalities. So maybe it’s the best family picture possible!

She was only standing still because she was being shy with my parents’ kind neighbor who came over to take a group picture. (I promise I fixed her hair. Those wispy little locks defeat me.)

The Easter gathering: it wouldn’t be complete without a Cardinal hat.

After lunch the kids raided their Easter baskets: pinwheels!

And noisemakers! They sound like the dying croaks of very sick animals, but the kids love them.

Puppets!

E roaring like a lion. She looks quite dainty, but she produces a tiny guttural growl and it is very serious business.

The boys proceeded to run back and forth across the yard and up and down the sidewalk, clambering up the hill in the front yard and then tearing off again.

B navigating the underbrush…

And giving me his ladykiller face.

Holidays are never perfect. This morning I read a post about another family’s also imperfect Easter; and I was struck by her point that holidays seldom turn out as we expect, and we then tend to dwell not on what we can love in that moment but on what we thought it would be. I know I am guilty of this. These high and holy days never look quite as I imagined. The pictures aren’t heart-stopping. I forgot my daughter’s diaper cover. (Yes–classy.) Food is spilled. The afternoon goes by too fast. Children have the audacity to argue and complain on Easter.

This year there was a bigger imperfection–a new hole. For the first time my brother was not just absent from our table, as sometimes happened on holidays, but absent from this life.  This is not as it should be, as it would be in my head or as it was meant to be when the world was made. The past year has been heavy with this and other losses, with deaths and griefs. Holidays bring us together, and they also bring up the sore and empty, echoing spaces. I remember holidays from my childhood when the ideal image was marred: someone didn’t show up, someone stormed out, someone was far away behind bars and could not come. All that felt wrong–because it was wrong. That special day is just another slice of life, marred like the rest of it, but still sparkling, here and there, with something beautiful to remember.

And so I’m happy I have these pictures: signs of small good things, and reasons to laugh a little, and steps–I hope–in the right direction.

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