Christmas card outtakes

“Never work with animals or children.” That’s what W.C. Fields famously said. I’d like to add sheep to that list.

Each December we corral the family and a few select animals for our family Christmas card. The photo is often imperfect — only vaguely posed — and no one’s ever dressed up. My goal is simple: produce one photo where all eyes are open and everyone looks reasonably pleasant.

In the past we’ve recruited the dog, a horse and even a cat for our Christmas card, but this year I felt particularly ambitious. We’d use the sheep! With an early snow we were guaranteed a nice photo.

The sheep, however, were not willing participants. They had no interest in standing in the vicinity of two bouncy, snow-giddy kids. Instead they clustered in the corner of the field furthest from us. Maisie and Martin herded them toward us but there were several flybys before they finally gave up and huddled nearby.

In the meantime, I tried to keep the kids corralled and camera ready. (Hey, who’s crying? There’s no crying! This is a happy moment! Happy, dammit!) Kid control proved more challenging than sheep wrangling.

Fortunately, our photographer Liz ignored the chaos and clicked away. And in the end one shot out of 60 made the grade. Our eyes are open, the kids look cheerful and the sheep are relaxed. We fooled everyone for another year!