Our family's long-standing Christmas tradition has always been sitting down on the lap of good 'ol Saint Nick, filling him in our wish list items while he squeezes our sides and pats our heads, and going home with a shiny new 5x7 photo to add to my mom's Santa photo album.
See, my mom has this book that makes the rounds on Christmas morning that is filled with our family Santa photos for the last 30 years. THIRTY YEARS! It blew our minds when we realized we had hit that milestone. That's 30-years of coordinated outfits, waiting in ridiculously long lines, and paying for over-priced 5x7's to fill this little book of memories. But the memories—oh the memories. They're worth every penny, every minute, every bad and embarrassing outfit and hair 'do (and hair don't!) that's contained in that book.
Whether we're all together or doing our own thing for the holidays (since my sister now lives out of state), we always make this tradition happen. Sometimes we're in the same shot, other times we have to take our own, and we've even had my brother-in-law hook us up once or twice with a rad photoshop edit because it just wasn't going to get done. Either way, we now have 30 of these little precious memories that we are able to look back on with a smile. My mom tells us each year, "This is my favorite Christmas gift." We think it's ours, too.
I can't give you the collage and not break it down, can I? See the 30 great (and yes, some are definitely awkward) photos below.
1986 - Seattle, WA: My very first Christmas photo. 1987 - Seattle, WA: And then we have a sister.
1988 - Seattle, WA: This Santa was one of our favorites. 1989 - Seattle, WA: Matching Easter outfits... at Christmas. Cute!
1990 - Seattle, WA: Matching again. 1991 - Seattle, WA: Where's my teddy bear?
1992 - Seattle, WA: This one might be my favorite of all. And there's my teddy bear! 1993 - Spokane, WA: And little Stew-man was born.
1994 - Spokane, WA: Matching Norwegian lusekoftse's (sweaters). 1995 - Hot Springs, AR: Stew wasn't so happy about Santa that year.
1996 - Edmond, OK: Marnie and I in velvet, Stew only happy after mom came in. 1997 - Edmond, OK: We loved this Santa... and Stew's pants.
1998 - Edmond, OK: Oh, the beginning of a really couple awkward years for me. 1999 - Edmond, OK: This was the year I discovered tweezers... and braces... and what being a teenager was.
2000 - Mason, OH: New city, new grumpy Santa. 2001 - Mason, OH: We look really happy to be taking this one.
2002 - Eagle, ID: We moved again! We love Idaho. 2003 - Eagle, ID: One of our better years.
2004 - Eagle, ID: In my senior year of high school—yes! 2005 - Eagle, ID: Skater boy brother... what a cutie. Marnie was extra tan after just getting back from a tropical trip.
2006 - Eagle, ID: Marnie was cheering for University of Idaho, I was a Boise State Cheerleader. Matching again. 2007 - Boise, ID: Both brunettes for the first time! Stew finds a love for ties.
2008 - Boise, ID: We had just flown in from Hawai'i. Very tan. 2009 - Boise, ID: Marnie and I were in college, Stew was in high school ROTC. All I have to say is that I was about 40 pounds heavier in that photo than I am today.
2010 - Boise, ID: We all looked really happy. Good memories. 2010 - Seattle, WA: Marnie and Andy couldn't make it to Boise, but they made sure to still visit Santa!
2011 - Boise (Photoshop): It was a crazy year so my brother-in-law photoshopped a picture of us with Santa. It did the trick! 2012 - Boise, ID: This was taken the day before Daniel and I got married.
2013 - Boise, ID: Stew's hair was orange because he dressed up as Ron Weasley (from Harry Potter, if you don't know) for a Quidditch something-or-other. 2013 - Spokane, WA: Marnie & Andy living it up in Spokane! Separate pics again.
2014 - Boise, ID: Stew and I matched on accident! Fun to have mom in the picture again. 2015 - Boise, ID: Marnie and I were trying to decide what to wear, but there was a Seahawks game on so we just drove over and took the picture during halftime. Easy as that!
Thirty years. Can you believe it? I love looking back and reflecting at the changes we've made, the life hurdles we've combated, and just where we were at during that time in our lives. This tradition is so, so special to us... and it definitely gets conversation going at a party when we bring the book out.
And here's a close up of our 2015 photo, because Santa's mustache is too on-pointe not to share.
Merry late Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone.