Our Family Photo Went Small Town Viral, And This Is Why

by Kira Gilbertson
Originally Published: 
Kira Gilbertson

We won a bag of free groceries. That’s how the whole thing started.

We live in a small Midwestern town. Our town is blessed to have any grocery store at all, let alone one that is incredibly active in the community. This little store was celebrating 10 years in business. There were tons of raffle giveaways offered throughout the store. My husband was lucky enough to win a free bag of groceries.

I was stoked. A free bag of groceries for a young family is a huge deal. Plus, we never win anything. It felt like we won the lottery (it was a slow day).

When my husband came home from work, we packed up our little crew and headed into town to pick up our prize. I figured that it would be a quick run, so we went “as is.” In my case, that meant I wore what I had slept in, my hair was in a pile on my head, and I was sporting yesterday’s makeup.

We walked into the store and turned in our winning ticket. The owner was excited. He asked if he could take a picture for the store’s Facebook page. Of course we obliged. The owner smiled and announced the photo was “Christmas card material.” We said our thank you’s and headed home.

Kira Gilbertson

It was not until a couple hours later that I saw the photo pop up on my newsfeed. We look like a hot mess. I am disheveled, the kids look miserable, and my husband… well, he always looks good. I laughed it off and drank a little wine to numb the embarrassment.

The next morning I realized what had happened. This photo had gone a small town version of viral. My dysfunctional little family was now famous in our town of a few thousand. Folks liked and commented at a fevered pace. I tried to ignore the constant notifications, but it was impossible. I resolved myself to the reality that my family would be known as “that family” for the foreseeable future.

Weeks passed and I had practically forgotten the whole ordeal. That is until we went to a community picnic. The kids were running around playing when a woman approached me. She said, “I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated that picture of your family. It is refreshing to see a family’s reality. It made my family feel normal!”

Once the shock wore off, I laughed and we talked about our little families. She was lovely, someone I hope to have my own playdate with soon.

The experience of my family’s dysfunctional reality being put on public display was humbling to say the least. However, inadvertently sharing a true family photo has helped me to appreciate that all families are perfectly imperfect.

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