Flash ... flash ... flash.
There she sits beneath the picturesque Christmas tree, your delicate angel child in her white snowflake, footie pajamas. The one you're blinding with your paparazzi moves: flash ... flash ... flash.
You make sure to get a shot of her beneath your grandmother's heirloom Christmas decoration, with the Lenox ornament honoring her first Christmas in the background. Oh, and the quaint popcorn and cranberry garland like you used to string with your family when you were a kid. It all sparkles quite magically. The image screams Hallmark.
Then reality comes calling the next morning when you find your angel child has snatched her Lenox ornament from the tree and is chewing on it. Your heirloom Christmas decoration is shattered around her. Her feetie pajamas that looked so darned cute during the photo shoot are now covered with red stains from gnawed-on cranberries that she chomped off the homemade garland while grinding popcorn shards into the rug. "But I only left you for a second," you gasp. "I just had to pee."
I'm as much of a sucker for a beautifully-trimmed tree as the next wannabe decorator. But after enduring five Christmases with little kids at my feet, the buying and decorating of my trees has dramatically changed. Yes, I went through the, "Oh, they won't bother the tree" phase. Then one year, when my twins were toddlers, my husband Scott and I put a safety gate around our tree. When I returned to the family room after slipping to the bathroom for a nanosecond, what I found was my daughter Abbey inside the gate, the cranberry and popcorn garland on the ground, my son Jonah in the act of eating the garland, and several ornaments lying broken on the floor.
Not exactly a Kodak moment for the scrapbook.