The family struggled to get a traditional family photo with smiling faces all around for their holiday card and it's a battle many of us know far too well.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 1, 2022. It has since been updated.
During the holiday season, we are all preparing it with decor, our favorite sweaters, candies, food, and Christmas cards. However, taking a picture for the annual family holiday card can be stressful for parents with young children. As they resort to making funny faces, constant movements, and several tantrums along the way, taking a good picture can prove to be an incredible challenge.
Andrew Leigh—Australia's assistant minister for competition, charities, and treasury—and his wife Gweneth experienced this struggle firsthand when they attempted to pose for a family portrait with their three children in 2015. While four out of five family members cracked a smile for the camera, the couple's youngest was simply not in the mood for it.
Speaking to TODAY, Leigh explained that they tried to do a photoshoot with the whole family for about 20 minutes. His son, Zachary, then 3, enjoyed it initially but "then found it rather frustrating that we were all standing still and looking at the cameraman." According to the father of three, the boy thought "Why stand still when you can play?" However, when he failed to get his way and his parents insisted on taking more photographs, the youngster obliged to look at the camera while making sure his displeasure would be evident to all.
In the photograph that was sent to friends and family, Zachary can be seen sitting away from his parents and brothers with his feet turned to the side and what Leigh described as "the world’s biggest scowl" on his face. Leigh added: "What you don’t see in the picture was that there’s a pond behind us, and Zachary’s next trick was to walk towards it. That got us moving!"
Leigh addressed the funny picture fail in an opinion piece in The Guardian in January 2019, when he discussed parenting as a politician. He said that when they sent the card out to their loved ones, their "friends loved it." He added: "People didn't want to see airbrushed politics; they preferred to know that our kids were just as grumpy as everyone else's... Mixing kids with life can have mortifying results, yet the imperfections can be glorious."
The 50-year-old also talked about how times are changing and "politicians are more likely than ever before to have young children, and we’re slowly adapting the rules to keep up." Members can now bring their baby into the chamber when there is a parliamentary vote. He said, "I’ve been in votes with as many as three babies on the floor – each causing coos and awwws aplenty among parliamentary colleagues."
He said that parents are usually extremely embarrassed when their children cry or sulk, however, he tells them "not to worry." He added, "some of us appreciate reality making a cameo appearance in what can too often be a pompous and formulaic parliamentary ritual."
Leigh added that being a parent and a politician is typically easier for men than it is for women, citing the difficulty of balancing work and family duties, keeping a connection with his wife, Gwenyth, and the occasional Christmas card frown. He wrote, "Ideally, both parenting and politics should be done with a sense of kindness. With children in your house, a politics of love looks a whole lot more attractive than a politics of hatred. You’re more attuned to the ridiculous and less inclined to take yourself too seriously."
"And maybe, just maybe, our youngest child will one day forgive us for featuring his grumpiness on our Christmas card," Leigh concluded.