Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Family from Yosemite

For Christmas 2008 we decided not to have the usual gift exchange and declared that we would contribute to The Family from Yosemite, which is a compilation of family stories. The book started some years ago with an initial college paper by Billy. Rick eventually caught hold of it and the ball started rolling from there. This tradition of writing a story will be our gift. It will be our legacy.

It was very enjoyable listening to all the stories on Christmas day. As we talked with one another about our memories over the holiday, it was said many times, "That should go in The Family from Yosemite." I'm very much looking forward to next Christmas, wondering what everyone will write.

The following was my 2008 Christmas contribution:

"Maybe We're Just an Ugly Family"
By Martha Reynders Blair

Submitted to The Family from Yosemite
December 25, 2008

In 1997 Rick was preparing to leave on his mission. We knew our family would never be the same with the launching of our first child so of course, we wanted to have a family picture taken. It wouldn’t be just any family picture, but a professional photograph etching a moment in time of our family’s history.

Digital photography really hadn’t come into play in most of the private sector. The studio we filed into was definitely of the old school. We really wanted to look our best, but our dress and where we selected to have our photo taken were telltale signs of where we were financially.

Our children knew full well the importance of this photo. They
too wanted to look their best. We went into a room and were strategically placed by a photographer that unfortunately did not build our confidence. You could tell he was nervous with our big group. There were eight of us, Sam wasn't born yet. We steadily went through the ritually of snapping photo after photo. Again, we were all so hopeful in spite of the circumstances. Surely there would be at least one good picture of our family.

Weeks later we got the happy call, our proofs were ready!
I anxiously perused through all our samples, but was disappointed to see nothing to my liking. As anyone well knows, I can be incredibly picky and a perfectionist to the extreme. I try not to be, so as I walked out of the studio with proofs in hand, I told myself that maybe it was just me. Surely everyone else in the
family will see a picture we can be content with.

Hugh looked through the pictures with a similar reaction, nothing looked good. The children took turns too, eyeing each photo, but no one was impressed. Finally Billy came home. He approached the table filled with our display of pictures. His mannerism showed confidence, certainly he would find the photo of our family that we could display proudly.

He picked up one proof at a time and with disbelieving disgust set each picture aside in a pile, even so, he showed a hope that there would still be a few pictures to pick from in order to select the final photo. He went through everyone and then back to the reject pile. He looked and looked and shook his head with a sigh of disillusionment, and then with calculated dismay stated his unfortunate conclusion, “You know, maybe we’re just an ugly family.”

To this day when we look at photos, you’ll hear family members comment:

“Oh, that’s my favorite!”

“This picture is hilarious!”

“Oh, that’s a good one.”

“I’ve always thought that was a great photo.”

“I remember when that happened.”

And always there is the infamous line,
“Maybe we’re just an ugly family.”
The informality of family life is a blessed condition that allows us to become our best while looking our worst.
~Marge Kennedy


  1. Let's blame the photographer!!! It works for me. Hey, did I skip over something or did you already document the "real" story about the family from Yosemite?

  2. I thought it was great. I would love more stories from "The Family from Yosemite" book. Send them our way. We have have so many family pictures that are awful - I've just about given up on trying to get a good one. Where do you get all you quotes that just seem to fit perfect with each blog?

  3. What a great tradition, funny story, nice quote, smiles danette

  4. The book title is based on a story of our visit to Yosemite. We haven't been back. We're afraid someone will recognize us. After that episode if we ever left the house together, I would say, "....and I don't want to see the family from Yosemite." Everyone in the family knew what I was talking about. I don't know that I will post it. That story and the others seem quite lengthy for a post. Mine was a shorter one. We'll see.

  5. Fabulous writing and story! And I like the picture! I'd love to read more entires to your family book. What a fantastic tradition.

  6. ruben said that that picture is not that bad lol !

  7. HI Martha,
    Kelly told me I had to go on your blog and read this story! She was right....what a funny story! I think you have a beautiful family! Thanks for sharing that and I too would love to hear more about the "Family From Yosemite!"