Christmas 1988

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I have been meaning to share this photo for a couple of weeks, but Elf on the Shelf posts and traveling and the holiday in general have kind of taken over.

In 1988 I was eleven years old. I remember the day this picture was taken.

Back in the 80’s they had these tall, and what I would consider dangerous, tables they sat children on to take photos. The table was generally covered in some sort of shaggy covering. Under the shaggy covering there would be what I would call risers. These risers would help one child sit up or sit taller and assist in positioning the kids on the table.

There are three consecutive years that a child is crying in our Christmas family picture. The crying came from an injury directly related to this stupid photo table.

This particular year my little sister is crying because my middle brother (the one wearing the dark blue/maroon/green striped shirt) knocked her off the table when he was climbing up to get on the table.

A similar story played out the year before and the year before that. One year it was my middle brother crying. One year it was the youngest brother crying.

Christmas 1988

When I found this picture a few weeks ago I asked my twins (6) if they knew who the people were in the picture. They wanted to know if “that little girl” always looked like that. What is wrong with her eyes?

Poor baby.

It was funny to see my kids try and figure out who each of these children were in this picture. They related everyone to their cousins. They though the oldest boy (James- wearing the grey and red striped shirt) was their cousin Troy. Funny thing is, Troy is James’ eight year old son.

They pointed to my baby brother, Josh, and just knew that was their cousin Mason. Mason is Josh’s four year old son.

Once they realized the children in this picture are my brothers and my sister, they KNEW the blonde girl, with the late 80’s teased bangs, was their mother. As a little girl.

You were a little girl mom? That is what you looked like?

We grew up broke. I mean flat broke. One year before this photo was taken my father fell 30 feet and broke his back. He was not expected to survive, but he did. Our family already struggled significantly, but the sole money maker now being disabled and hospitalized for months on end,  made money even tighter.

Up to this point my mother was a stay at home mom. She was now forced into the workforce after my father’s injuries. She made $5.00 an hour and did her very best to make ends meet for five children while taking care of her husband who was paralyzed from the waist down.

Christmas after Christmas  I remember family members bringing gifts to my parents the night before Christmas so we would have presents under the tree. Year after year our names were on Angel Trees. I remember a few holidays there were local churches who brought boxes of food to our home.

But look at us in that picture.

We were clean. We were fed. We were loving children.

We were happy- never victims.

The difference family makes. Family truly is everything.

When I think of my struggles as a mom, I am reminded what a difference my mother has made for her children.

Parenting is hard. Tough love is hard.

And in the wake of all the crazy and devastating junk in the news lately, I am just so thankful and happy for my family. Not just the family in the picture above, but the family we’ve all gone on to make for ourselves.


  1. Sally Sullivan says:

    Thank you for sharing this story.

  2. Kim Idell says:

    None of my kids guessed it was you. You were all so little! I love that you are all so close as adults.

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