"Getting people to smile on demand is a bit tricky. Attempts to get my sizeable family bathed, dressed, and looking pleasant for a picture is like medieval torture. Just saying the words “family portrait” makes me break out in a cold sweat.
When my unenthusiastic family is finally lined up for this mother-initiated activity, I feel great compassion for our frazzled photographer.
"Pull that finger out of your nose," the photographer says. "Would the teenager on the back row take off the sunglasses? Now on the count of three, everybody look at me and say 'pickles.' One, two, three--pickles!"
(We don't have this problem in the Puddicombe family - In fact we intentionally keep it pretty relaxed - Probably why we do it every year!)
Why do we want to see ourselves smiling in pictures? Why not just snap a realistic photo of family members milling around showing their true mood at the moment? Because we all look and feel better when we smile.
While insisting others smile can be a cause of great frustration, getting ourselves to smile will always bring us joy.
I remember a time when I was worried about one of my teenage sons. I prayed long and hard asking God to teach me how to love my son. The impression I received was simple: smile. This answer perplexed me. Still, I gave it a try. I began smiling at my son more often. I made an effort to catch his eye and smile at him during breakfast and supper. I noticed myself appreciating him more and becoming keenly aware of his courage in the face of adolescence. I wasn't sure at the time if he noticed, or if it meant anything to him--teenage boys aren't famous for expressing tender emotions. Some time later I received a letter from this son, who had become an adult:
"Dear Mom, thank you for smiling at me. When I was making my most difficult decisions, I would see your face in my mind, smiling," he wrote. "I knew you loved me, and it made all the difference."
Smiling is also a great way to meet new people. Once I was sitting in the Marriott Center at BYU during a Women's Conference. I was one of the speakers that day, but none of my family or friends could make it to listen to my talk. I was feeling sad and alone, even though there were thousands of women all around me. At that very moment, the woman sitting next to me turned and smiled.It felt like she'd tossed me a ball of sunshine. Instantly, I no longer felt alone or sad. I had the impression that if this woman and I knew each other, we would be friends. It occurred to me that I was surrounded by family and friends--I just hadn't met or smiled at them yet.
We unlock our personal power for good when we offer the gift of a genuine and loving smile. Turning up the corners of our mouths helps us spread sunshine everywhere we go. So on those days when we feel inferior, worried, diminished, sad, or lonely, we need to get out there and start smiling. I've learned my day usually goes the same way as the corners of my mouth."
Adapted from 15 Secrets to a Happy Home, by Janene Wolsey
Let me explain why we LOVE this picture; the laughter is due to our sweet nephew Spencer, who had just struggled to get his family photos taken -walked happily into ours - he is actually holding Em's hand in this shot
I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes.
Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller (the store owner) and the ragged boy next to me.
'Hello Barry, how are you today?'
'H'lo , Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas. They sure look good.'
'They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?'
'Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time.'
'Good. Anything I can help you with?'
'No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas.'
'Would you like to take some home ?' asked Mr.. Miller.
'No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with.'
'Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?'
'All I got's my prize marble here.'
'Is that right? Let me see it' said Miller..
'Here 'tis. She's a dandy.'
'I can see that. Hmmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home ?' the store owner asked.
'Not zackley but almost..'
'Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble'.. Mr. Miller told the boy.
'Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller.'
Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me.. With a smile she said, 'There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, when they come on their next trip to the store..'
I left the store smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado , but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering for marbles.
Several years went by, each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr.. Miller had died.
They were having his visitation that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could.
Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts...all very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband's casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her, and moved on to the casket.
Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one; each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.
Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and reminded her of the story from those many years ago and what she had told me about her husband's bartering for marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket
'Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim 'traded' them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size.....they came to pay their debt.'
'We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,' she confided, 'but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho..'
With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.
The Moral: We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds.. Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath....
Today I wish you a day of ordinary miracles ~A smile handed out for free..An unexpected phone call from an old friend...Green stoplights on your way to work.....The fastest line at the grocery store...A good sing-along song on the radio...Your keys found right where you left them.