A creative family photo is giving people all the feels.
Louisiana mom and blogger Chrissy Roussel shared a photo of her children with her siblings’ kids on Facebook. The photo shows the full set of 17 cousins wearing special T-shirts; each shirt has a number to indicate birth order and a color to designate which children are siblings.
“The kids are growing so fast that we try to capture them all together whenever we can,” Roussel told HuffPost. “Since they’re all so close in age, we thought it would be fun to line them all up by birth order.”
The mom said her sister Maryellen suggested the kids wear numbered shirts. “We each picked our own T-shirt colors and she ironed on the numbers,” Roussel said.
The family photo is in many ways a tribute to Roussel’s late father, who passed away three years ago. Shortly after he died, she learned she was expecting spontaneous triplets, and two of her brothers’ wives became pregnant as well.
Her family calls those kids the “Frederick Five” in memory of her dad, Frederick Michael Fox Jr.
“They’ve brought so much happiness and joy to our family when we needed it most. It is so bittersweet that he never got to meet them,” Roussel said. “The photo reflects so clearly my parents’ love for each other, in that all 17 kids are such funny, thoughtful little people. We consider this ― these kids ― to be his greatest legacy. I think that’s the sort of legacy that everyone hopes to leave, too.”
The 17 grandchildren range in age from 2 to 14 years old. Roussel’s sister-in-law Katie Fox, of Annabelle Rose Photography, took the photo, and the kids had a blast posing for it.
“Each one proudly marched to their spots when their numbers were called!” said Roussel. “It was a lot of fun for them.”
The photo appeared on the Facebook page Love What Matters, where it received over 30,000 likes.
In the caption, Roussel shared a sweet tribute to her father. “When I look at this picture of my parents’ 17 grandkids, I notice in particular those five rainbow babies who brought so much joy in the months and years after my Dad passed away,” she wrote. “We miss him so much, but we feel his presence every day through the love and joy of all these kids.”
Roussel and her family did not expect the overwhelming reaction to their photo. “It really took on a life of its own and just started popping up everywhere! My kids think it’s super fun,” she said.
“Also, my sister-in-law snapped away for about five or six minutes before declaring she ‘got it,’ so the entire process was very fast,” she added. “We took it with such little effort or fanfare that it’s crazy to think it’d go viral!”
People have shared their own similar family photos, both in the Love What Matters comments section and on Pinterest.
“I think so many people can relate to the joy that comes from being with extended family and having all your little ones together,” Roussel told HuffPost. “It just puts a smile on your face to see 17 little cousins lined up together on the beach. In addition, while the image itself is beautiful, I think people are touched by the bittersweet story behind the photo as well.”
The mom said she hopes the photo brightens people’s days. She added, “I also hope it encourages people to meet up with family and snap a few pictures!”