The Writings

A Christmas Story (Minus Ralphie and the Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle)

So, today is Christmas Eve, and it would make sense to write something about Christmas, but there are TONS of posts about family portraits, holiday things, and Christmas lists (who does those? LAME!).  So, I figure why not take a step out of the ordinary and write about my Christmas day only two years ago.  If you're trying to avoid your family, how about we take a little walk down Memory Lane and relive a Christmas that would ultimately change my life.

Traveling in our Wayback Machine, we set the dial to the distant year of 2008.  On this fine, fair-weathered Christmas Day (because Virginia Beach doesn't really get cold... ever), my family and I geared up for an excellent holiday.  As usual, I woke up at the extremely late hour of seven o'clock in the morning to the sounds of my brother and sister yelling at me to wake up as they jumped up and down on my bed.  In an ever-so-lovingly manner, I told them to get the hell out of my room so I could get some more sleep, but alas, this was never to be, as is the case every year.  It's a tradition we keep firmly rooted in our family, and I'm sure I will not stray far from tradition this time around, except maybe with a few more endearingly-put expletives.

Because everyone past the age of 20 in my household needs a little extra Christmas spirit at this time of the morning, especially when dealing with the younger ones choosing to speak with their outside voices instead of inside voices, coffee is continuously being made at what seems to be a snail's pace, since it can never get made fast enough when trying to deal with kids set to warp speed as they eagerly await opening presents.  My family is a little weird, in that the two younger ones are more eager to hand out the presents and will fight to the death over who gets to do the bidding.  Another tradition is listening to mom's ceremonious "If You Both Don't Calm Down and Take Turns Handing Out Presents, Neither One Of You Will Open ANYTHING" speech, which marks the official beginning to the exchanging of gifts.

We always start handing out each others' gifts to our family members first, since Santa always seems to deliver more kick-ass presents than we're willing to shell out the money for (we love our family, but not enough to buy everyone a Lexus like the other families must do - commercials wouldn't lie, right?), so to spare competing with the jolly fat man, this is how we begin.  I received a lot of great items, and when we got to Santa's gifts, they were just as awesome as the rest of the family's gifts to me.  However, as we typically do, the best is always saved for last, and this year's gift was a little more best than in years past.

I saw the box from afar, and while I was being made fun of by the younger siblings that their packages were bigger than mine (a remark that isn't held to Christmas and not exclusively said by family members), I knew that it still had to be a big deal, since it was the last present under the tree.  As I opened it, I saw the letters "DSLR" and knew exactly what it was - my first camera.  I took photos of everything (except my mom - if I did that, I wouldn't be alive today, for sure) and took a few walks around the neighborhood to get used to my camera.

I had SO much to learn, and boy, did my pictures SUCK.  I had no concept of composition, my photos were under/overexposed, my post-production was horrendous as I boosted the contrast too high and made everyone's skin turn orange, and I was shooting *.jpgs, not *.raw (JPGs!  TERRIBLE!).  All of that didn't matter: I was taking photos, and even though they were lame photos, I was taking them and I was having fun.

From then on, my camera was with me everywhere I went.  I took countless walks around Washington, DC, and brought it with me when I visited family in Ecuador.  I kept shooting and shooting, and even after I found a job in the restaurant industry a few months later, all I could see were photographs everywhere I looked.  Without question, I probably looked like a child walking around with his favorite blanket as I toted my Sony Alpha around, but we were attached at the hip.  I'm sure my parents were unaware of the beast they just released, and even more unaware of what it would lead to, such as using my Associate's Degree in Culinary Arts for nothing more than making amazing meals for myself at home.  Oh well...

Two years later, I am celebrating Christmas without having to worry about rushing off to the restaurant the following day (if that - some years, I had to celebrate by working in the restaurant).  I've upgraded to a Canon (yes, Nikon users - that's an upgrade) and have taken a wide variety of photos in the last year.  I can't believe what my one camera has been able to do and where it's taken me, but it wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for that one Christmas two years ago.

So, if you want to blame anything for having to put up with my pictures and obsession of photography for the past two years, blame Christmas.  Bah, Humbug!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

- Patrick