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An ugly event happens this time every year that causes me to lose my religion, and not in a cool R.E.M.-sing-about-it sort of way.

It is called the Family Christmas Photo.

“What on earth are you wearing?”

The youngest shrugged her shoulders. “The outfit you picked out for me.”

“Oh my,” I said, wondering at what point of recent derangement I had decided glitter jeggings and a stretched-out tank top was a wise choice.

On cue, the teen entered wearing her photo garb.

“Did I help pick that out too?” I cringed.

“No,” said the teen, with more than a hint of Mom-I-want-to-throw-you-off-a-bridge. “I was trying to find something to go with those glitter jeggings!”

The son, meanwhile, was wandering the house barefoot with a bottle of spray gel and a brush, like a wayward member of a boy band.

I don’t know how triplets do it. Even twins who dress alike.

Well, actually, I do know how they do it. It’s a little something called planning and it happens to be part of the puzzle I miss every year. I don’t need my three darlings to match for the annual holiday pic. I would be happy with some semblance of coordination. And it was clear I had once again led them down a dangerous path, this time involving skin-tight knickers that shine.

“Can you do my hair in that cool spiky way?” asked the boy.

Simple sweater and pants — he was the least of my problems and I told him so. Outfits that I days ago thought would look perfect on the girls were clearly a flaming disaster, and with our appointment in 30 minutes, I was feeling the pressure one feels the moment the old head is about to rocket off the shoulders.

“What do you mean you don’t have any shoes?”

Teen, now in a fresh outfit, was standing before me again.

“I don’t have any shoes,” she repeated in a fantastically not-helpful sort of way. “I have sneakers. Or sandals.”

I guess none of this should surprise me. Narnia has nothing on us regarding the mysteries swallowed up inside children’s closets.

There has not been one school concert for which my children were adequately prepared beforehand. Instead, the night before I am delivered the news that once again there is no white shirt to be had, no solid black pants in all the land.

Three children. Two concerts a year. That is six white shirts and six black pants gulped into the abyss annually.

“Can’t you shove your feet into something?”

I pawed through one closet, then another, looking for any possible option.

“Here, these are perfect!” I said, whereas “perfect” in this case meant a pair of her mother’s boots, a size-and-a-half too big.

Then out the door we ran — well in her case, hobbled — ready to smile. Picture perfect.

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Martha Petteys writes a weekly column for The Post-Star. Write to her at or visit her on Facebook.


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