11/30/2012 01:46 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Worst (Best?) Christmas Portrait Ever

Every family has 'em. Piles of throw-away snapshots that you can't bear to actually throw away.

Before digital cameras our generation put every picture, no matter how bad, into a photo album. After all, they were precious -- and we shelled out big bucks to have them developed.

Then there are the CLASSICS. The ones you should have thrown away, but instead you frame them. This one is ours.

Seeing this snapshot made us think. If it were taken on a digital camera, we would no longer have it -- it's simply too easy to delete photos right after they are taken. Think about it: We thought we were sitting for a lovely family portrait. Clearly, all heck is breaking loose and none of us could have been in an outstanding mood. We would not have found this picture the least bit funny at the time -- we KNOW we would have deleted it then and there if we had the chance.

When Veronica's mother got her photos back from the camera shop a full month later -- enough time for the horror to subside -- then, and only then, could a grandma find the hilarity in a picture like this. And boy, did she.

The photo was blown up, passed around to our extended family, even hung on walls. Our family is a bit sick and twisted that way, but hey, it's a crazy funny picture.

It was Christmas time and the first time Veronica's family had gotten together in California since we started procreating. Grammi (Veronica's mom, far left in her festive red sweater) was beside herself with glee to host Christmas at her home with her only grandkids. Veronica's brother (the guy beaming in the middle, obviously pre-children by the relaxed look on his face) hadn't met our girls prior to this visit.

David (far right), with his '80s permed mullet is worth a place on anyone's wall. We believe he's wearing a leather tie -- ala Duran Duran, a truly tragic time capsule. Clothing always dates a photo, but David circa 1988 single-handedly harkens back the smell of Aqua Net. He looks as though he could be the youngster's other grandmother (just in the photo, not in real life!), awful on so many levels. Strangely, he seems to be finding humor in the situation.

Veronica (hunkered over at the top) is trying her best to look her best holiday-happy, but her hunched shoulders under her weirdly nautical shirt with the scary big bow betrays her underlying horror. In her cold sweat, she must have pushed back her mall bangs -- exposing what Uncle Jeff calls the family "five head" (most folks can raise their hands to their foreheads and lay four fingers there -- hence, forehead. The Stewarts can do five). She looks as though she's muttering the S-word under her breath.

We can only now imagine the joyful noise our daughters were making. And just how did we keep them sitting there? Did Grammi install seatbelts on her special-occasion couch? We had to be chasing them around and setting them back down. That further explains the sweaty lack of mall bangs -- no amount of Agua Net can Extra Super Hold under those circumstances.

Funny thing -- what we both remember most is the cackle coming from Veronica's wickedly amused stepfather from behind the camera. And the day the photo arrived for Valentine's Day, framed and matted, from Grammi.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Awkward Grandparent Photos