The second biggest lie I ever told

With a title like “the second biggest lie ever told” I assume I will have to come clean with the first biggest lie I ever told. The first (and biggest) lie came to me in a stroke of maniacal genius at a slumber party one night. We had been watching scary movies which had some sort of tragic story line and got the girls to talking. One girl started in with some sort of family secret which I think revolved around a parent being drunk and disorderly at a family Christmas party. I’m not trying to make light of the serious ramifications of addictive behavior but let’s just say we were literally all Catholic schoolgirls and pretty much every one of us at the party had an identical story to tell. When it got to me I was thinking on my feet and went with the biggest flat out lie (also the easiest to get caught in) in the history of lies. I proceeded to tell all of the girls at the sleep over that the people they thought were my parents were not actually my parents because my real parents were murdered on the farm that I grew up on. I need to pause here and apologize to anyone this actually happened to because I know there are people this has actually happened to – you are heroes, I am feckless and I am also very sorry. I do not know what came over me other than I wanted to participate in the game and the shame still haunts me today. For the record I continued with this snowballing untruth all the way through to telling my best friend’s parents that this was the honest truth. You can imagine my biological mother’s surprise when she picked me up from the slumber party and the host offered her sincere condolences on the fact that her sister and brother-in-law had been murdered on a farm and she (my mom) had taken in her niece(me) and raised her like she was her child (which of course I was but my mom probably wished I wasn’t at that moment).I can assure you that was one of the longest car rides of my entire life and we probably only lived 10 minutes away. We still get a good laugh about this today when I am being unreasonable and my mom reminds me that my real parents were actually murdered on that homestead all those years ago.

The second biggest lie I ever told is one that I tell almost every year and I am in very good company telling it. It is much harder to prove the falsehood as there is photographic evidence of the lie being “true”. What I am talking about of course is the family Christmas photo. Each year I convince my weary husband and my noncompliant children to huddle around me smiling as if we are the happiest people in the entire world. There are times when we actually fit that bill but I can assure you that as that photo is snapped, we do not. I can recall multiple times after taking (twenty? forty?) photos driving to Walgreens and having them printed and crying over the catastrophe that occurred moments before. Annually, the kids are crying and refusing to sit still or put on darling reindeer antlers, the dog wonders out of the frame and my husband laments the day digital cameras were created. This is of course because I can see instantly how inaccurate the photo is – somehow on a tiny digital screen I appear at least 15 pounds overweight. My eye is a little squiggly thing and for some ungodly reason I have wrinkles when I’m quite certain they don’t exist otherwise… Furthermore the camera picks up every molecule of dust and out of place object known to man…you may think you’re getting a frame of four faces in front of the Christmas tree but somehow you will capture a pile of newspapers that didn’t make it to the recycling bin as well as the dustbin that swept the dog hair that appeared right in front of the Christmas tree skirt moments before the flash went off. It’s a gift really…

The only year that our picture truly captured who we are was the year my husband took photos of each of us, cut our heads out and pasted them on to tandem skydivers. We went on to write underneath “have an adventurous New Year”. It’s almost comical to think that we were the most ourselves when we were disembodied. My point is that the picture of perfection that I’m always aiming for is a big fat lie. Not technically as bad as killing off your parents, but destructive nonetheless. If I send out a photo where I have no wrinkles and I’m appearing slimmer than I am in real life perhaps someone will open it from the mailbox and think that I have it together (or at least that I occasionally run a comb through the kids’ hair). But then I run the risk of them bumping into me at the grocery store or worse yet Walmart at 2:00 PM on a Sunday afternoon and thinking my god what happened to her; she looked so normal in the last picture I saw of her?!? As Christmas draws closer I will once again ask for a family photo but I am opting for real (with a dash of concealer and a few swipes of mascara) this year and hoping that lightning will strike twice and my husband will have another brilliant idea, as long as it’s away from the barnyard, I should be in the clear.

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