Ah, The Family Picture

US Wealth Napolitano |

By: Alex Weiss, CFP®


I have such fond memories of taking family pictures while growing up (which I think may not be that common). The process as I remember it, felt like something between a badge of honor and a practical joke based on what my parents had me dressed in. As we get ready to stretch our stomachs on Thanksgiving, I can still hear my Mom saying,

‘Now stand over here so we can take your picture.’

Let me be clear about one thing: not all family picture experiences are created equal. My first vivid memories were of putting on an itchy sweater or a clip-on tie that my Mom thought was cute (and I’m sure I hated) only to pile into the 1992 Dodge Caravan with wood paneling. The destination to take pictures was as 90’s as it gets: Sears! Heck, what a store. You could get your car serviced, buy appliances, go Christmas shopping, and have the annual family photo taken in one stop– what’s not to love?! Anyway, the tradition went on for years and when my step-dad and all of his kids came into the picture (literally and figuratively), we had to squeeze in 8 teenagers, 2 adults, and my baby brother, Nate. Nate is 5 years younger than me and he was never little, but always the baby in our hearts.

If you haven’t had the unique experience of going to Sears for a photo, they placed you inside a ‘booth’ that was a glorified box with whatever color background you wanted. Well, we took up so much space crammed inside the booth that whoever was closest to the flash had their face whited out, while the person on the opposite corner looked like they had been tanning for a few months. For a bunch of teenagers who had pimples and lacked confidence, this always added a layer of complexity in pursuit of ‘the perfect picture.’  

If it wasn’t a formal picture taken at Sears, it was either during Thanksgiving or Christmas (or both) that all the kids and cousins were forced to line up to capture the occasion. As a new parent, I now realize the importance. I also understand how hard it is to get the timing right. It was nearly impossible to coordinate everything at Sears,

because as soon as my Mom parked the minivan, we immediately scattered. At home as opposed to Sears, she tried to corral us to get the picture before dinner found its way on the outfit, or grass stains onto the pants, or one of the other thousand ways an outfit got ruined amid all of the madness.

Now I find myself putting my daughter through a similar rite of passage. We took family pictures this past week and while nothing terribly exciting happened, I am sure we will have our own bloopers along the way. Unfortunately, we did not take her to Sears so she could have the same experience as her dad, rather we went outside for some socially distanced pictures. If you have any funny, endearing, or just total flash back family pictures you want to share – we would all love to see them.


Until next time…