The Ruined Christmas Photo

Rob, Karen, Jamie, Jodie, Van, and Al Landry on Christmas morning in 1966 in Jennings, Louisiana.

I’ve been planning on posting this photo for a while now.  I realized last year that I hadn’t posted any Christmas photos from my own childhood.  I posted a few photos last year and decided to wait until this year for this photo.  I was actually going to use it next week, but I was pressed for time this week and this photo has already been edited to my liking.

Let’s go back to 1966 when little Van Landry was all excited about Christmas.  I was only six years old, so I probably didn’t stay up for Midnight Mass like some of the older siblings did.  After spending Christmas Eve in Lake Charles with all of my Landry cousins, we made our way back to Jennings for the night.  We may have driven around a few places in Lake Charles to look at some of the lights and decorations for the season.  I remember doing that a time or two.  We would usually get back to Jennings pretty late and it would be time for bedtime.

But how could we go to bed?  Santa was coming tonight!  It was too exciting!  I didn’t think I’d be able to sleep, but before you know it I was sleeping.  I always missed my chance to sneak into the other room and catch him in action.  The next thing I knew, I was waking up to the sound of Perry Como’s “Little Drummer Boy” or Fred Waring’s version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  Those songs and many more were regular Christmas morning fare in the Landry household at 758 Lucy Street in Jennings, Louisiana.  For some reason I also associate the music from “Peter and the Wolf” with Christmas as well.  I didn’t listen for very long, because when I became fully aware, I had to go see what treasures I had!

We usually had a few gifts and a stocking full of goodies.  Our stockings were actually one of our dad’s socks!  In the sock would be an apple, an orange, some nuts and some candy, and for me there would be a matchbox car.  Of course we’d want to open our gifts immediately, but our dad wanted to take a photo of us with our gifts beforehand.  Why this delay in our immediate gratification?  But we went along.  My dad got out his fancy Polaroid camera, got us organized for the photo, told us to say “cheese,” and snapped a photo of us smiling.

Christmas morning – Take 2

At least he thought we were all smiling.  When he took the photo, I decided to make a funny face to show the excitement I had for the day.  As he saw the developed photo after waiting a while, a look of dissatisfaction came over his face.  He fussed at me for ruining the family photo and decided to take another photo of us.  I tried to behave myself the second time, but you can see that I’m still laughing about the fun photo I took the first time.  I distinctly remember him fussing at me and it seems like it would have sobered me a little.  I don’t see any sign of it in the second photo.

I still like the first photo the best.

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