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Holidazed and Confused

by Kathryn Milewski 25 days ago in satire
Second Place in Holiday Card Outtakes ChallengeSecond Place in Holiday Card Outtakes Challenge

Why do I look like I'm stoned in my second grade Christmas photo? I don't know, but it would be perfect for a Christmas card.

Holidazed and Confused

Earlier this month, my mom and I spent a day decorating our living room for Christmas. After putting on Carrie Underwood's holiday album, setting up the tree and hanging multicolored lights, my mother opened a box of knick knacks to pretty up the hanging shelves just above our sofa.

There was some cool stuff inside: a nutcracker, nativity set, tiny Santas and even a Christmas-themed trophy my brother won from a video game tournament. Then my mom took out a rectangular green picture frame and placed it all the way on the lower shelf's end. Either I have a very poor memory or she had never put up the picture before, because I was surprised to find the person inside the frame was second grade me.

And in that frame, I don't look cute and enthusiastic. My expression is...um...

Well. You can just see for yourself.

If you know my face, you know that is not the typical way I smile for photos. Where on earth did that girl come from?

I don't know what the funniest thing about my expression is. Is it the droopy stoner eyes? The half-hearted grin? Maybe it's the fact I'm posing next to an ornament with another picture of me in it, although you really can't tell because there are several ornaments of random kids scattered across the tree. It's like I'm saying, yeah, I know I look better than these goons, with my little smirk and smolder.

"Why do I look like that?" I asked my mom after she placed the frame on the shelf. She just giggled and shook her head.

"Katy, I don't know why you do the things you do," she said.

I wonder how her and my dad kept it together when I gifted them that picture frame back in 2006. It wasn't a holiday card, but it served the same purpose; it was a trinket of love and remembrance made specifically for my parents.

I can recall the day the photo was taken, albeit vaguely. It's hard to know why second grade me made the weird expression she did, but having been in her shoes, I have two theories. The more likely reason is that my teacher called me over at a time when I really didn't want to pose for a photo. Second grade Katy was a crybaby and infamous for her overly-sensitive nature, so it's possible she was having a bad day and just tried to look okay for a photo she didn't desire to be in.

I was also one of those kids who had a hard time falling asleep - either because of monsters under my bed or because I was playing Pokemon Leaf Green on my Gameboy under the covers when I was supposed to be counting sheep. So another theory is that I was fatigued when the photo was taken. Hence the droopy-eyed, lackadaisical expression. I'm not high, just tired!

You know that meme popular around 2007? Disaster Girl? I think my face is similar to hers, just holiday-themed and without a burning house in the background. Here's a side-by-side comparison for reference. You can see the pure evil in our tiny eyes.

Disaster Girl's holiday twin.

When I posted my second grade photo onto Instagram with the caption, "Tis the season, bitches," my filmmaking partner in crime, Chris Orangeo, also noted my malicious expression. I hope it inspires him to write a holiday slasher movie one day...

Another talented artist friend, Jason Moua, also took a liking to my unbothered, possibly stoned gaze. If you've read the Creator Spotlight Vocal did on me a while back, you know Greta Gerwig is a huge influence of mine. In my humble opinion, Frances Ha is the best film ever made. Jason is well aware of my Greta Gerwig adoration, and perpetuates my addiction. We dressed up as Jo and Laurie from Little Women last Halloween.

There's a scene in the beginning of Frances Ha where Gerwig's character and her best friend are smoking/chillaxing on their fire escape. Here's a famous still from that scene:

Greta Gerwig in "Frances Ha" (2012)

Now here's Jason's masterpiece of my second grade head photoshopped onto Greta Gerwig's body:

I'm proud of Jason for using my second grade head the way it should be used: for dank memes.

My holiday expression has come into popularity recently, and not just from Instagram. If you've been paying attention to the holiday articles certain Vocal creators - including myself - have posted, you've seen my second grade stoner face before. The Vocal team displayed it on the banner for my 2020 holiday article.

When Vocal reached out to me about creating a story for the platform's holiday campaign, I was instructed to send two or more photos to be used for social media and design purposes. Since it's the holiday season, I figured I'd shoot over some yuletide-themed images of yours truly.

Here was the first picture I sent: very fancy and sophisticated. I was going for some 1960's, Mrs. Maisel vibes with this one. My hair is curled, too. I'm wearing heels and everything! Even the background looks festive.

Me on Christmas Day, 2019.

Here's the second picture, taken during last year's Christmas Eve party. It's a silly portrait of me wearing a beer pong ugly Christmas sweater. Yes, those are red solo cups velcroed to my chest. It's odd, but still cute, I think.

Me on Christmas Eve, 2019.

So yeah, the Vocal team had those two options of my current face to choose from.

But obviously, they went with the third option...

Do I regret emailing over my mischievous second grade stoner face? Maybe a wee bit. But the fact Vocal chose my awkward kid pic over Rachel Brosnahan vibes and a beer pong sweater says a lot about how iconic the photo truly is. In a way, the banner is like a wacky Christmas card with that photo you didn't want your parents to use, but they used it anyways because they like to scar you for life. In a loving way.

So readers. If any of you out there are skilled in the arts of meme-making and photoshopping, feel free to use my childhood face for any and all holiday debauchery you'd like. DM your creations to my Instagram account, @katyisaladybug, because I'd love to see what you come up with.

Anyways, getting to the point of this story. Is my second grade stoner face embarrassing? Definitely. But I think that's the reason why it would be perfect for a Christmas card. Especially a 2020 Christmas card, because we all know how crazy this year has been.

So my lovely Vocal audience, as thanks for sticking around with me and supporting my work during this weird time in our lives, here's a virtual Christmas card from me to you...

Author's Note

If I don't post another article before the year is over, I'd like to wish you all a happy holiday season and rockin' new year! :) This year on Vocal for me was pretty awesome. My articles wouldn't mean anything if there weren't people to read them, so I really want to thank you guys for all your likes, tips, and lovely Instagram DM's. 2020 was an isolating year, but the Vocal community made me feel less alone. Love you all! <3

And speaking of 2020...can you believe the year is almost over? Thank goodness. I can already hear the unanimous sigh of relief across the world. Sweet freedom, baby. xxx

Kathryn Milewski
Kathryn Milewski
Read next: Understanding the Effects of Addiction on the Family
Kathryn Milewski

Insta: @katyisaladybug

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