Looking at the family Christmas pictures the other day, I was reminded of this article in the Smithsonian magazine. The famous Renoir painting depicts the group after the meal. The wine bottles are half empty. There are some grapes, no other food. The author reminds us that Renoir shows the best time of the party, replete with satisfaction and good feeling. The painting is about the people, not about the food.
We always take our annual Christmas group shot with everyone except the photographer seated at the table, still beautifully set and undisturbed by the process of dinner. The seating plan varies little from year to year… the children are older, as we all are. This year we even included our little dog, present for the first time.
Maybe we should consider taking the photograph after dinner… after the little children have been excused, after the first courses are cleared away and the chairs have been pushed back. No one is concerned about serving or clearing. The kitchen is a mess, but the dining room table is laden with trifle and Christmas baking. No one is in a hurry to move. Coffee has been served, the host and hostess can sit back and relax with the guests, and we are all thinking with joy and gratitude about how fortunate we are to be here together, in this place, in this moment.