It seems my focus for holiday photos had shifted from the perfect photo to just enjoying the moments with my crazy critters.
Many of the outtakes had me laughing out loud and my pets' reactions were priceless.
The best photo from this year was one where Sherman shook off a pair of reindeer horns.
There happened to be enough light that day for me have a fast enough shutter speed to capture the pair suspended in midair.
I was so amazed at how much more delightful the whole holiday hat photo session was when I turned my focus to the experience rather than expecting "perfect" results.
I pondered how much less stressful the holiday season may be if I stopped focusing on the perfect Christmas and just 'pawsed' to enjoy the experience.
What is picture perfect?
Several years ago, I decided to torture my pets by dressing them up for the holidays. My main concern then was to create a perfect photo for our Christmas cards.
There was lots of crying, screaming and gnashing of teeth from all parties involved. I learned a few tricks over the years. Treats and positive reinforcement were much more successful than yelling and scolding.
Additionally, adding elastic straps kept hats in place just long enough for a photo.
For this year's session, I was blessed with a sunny day over the Thanksgiving holiday. My parents' house was often seen in the background of my holiday photos. So, this year I decided to use my porch Christmas decorations as a backdrop and for the most part, the photos turned out well.
I got what I considered a perfect bunch of photos to use for Christmas cards. However, it was the shots that were imperfect that provided the most delight.
Finding joy in life's little imperfections may just be the perfect way to enjoy the holiday season with less stress.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.
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"The Nature of Things" features the writings and photographs of Anna Applegate, who is a lifelong resident of Pinegrove Township, Venango County. She is a graduate of Cranberry High School and Clarion University. After a 15-year career in the local news industry, she made a change and now works at a steel finishing plant in Sandycreek Township. She is a avid lover of animals and nature, and a gifted photographer.