Saturday, February 8, 2014

Say Cheese!

As I've mentioned before, I am the memory keeper in the family. At least for my mom's side. Even from the time I was a young child, I spent hours looking at the stacks of photo albums at my grandmother's house. I know all the pictures and all the stories.
I am probably about 4 years old. This is at my grandmother's house.

 Sometimes, I am not sure if I remember the event because of the event, or because of the picture.

In my family, partly because technology was poor and partly because we're bad with pictures, we have a lot of bad pictures. This has become strikingly evident as I am compiling a life story in pictures (which is the third one I've done in the past two and a half years, which makes me very, very sad). My grandmother tried to take pictures. My dad took some, When pressed into service, my mom would even take a few. My aunt sent the doubles to my grandmother so she could see what was going on in their lives in New Jersey. And the majority of the pictures are terrible. You can tell my family is French because they liked to chop the heads off of people.


We have tons of what I like to call "the blur."
Now, I can't just toss this picture because it is one of the few I have of my brothers and me with both my grandparents. My grandfather passed away when I was 13, so there are not that many more years after this one. [By the way, I can tell this is New Year's Day, simply because we are all wearing the outfits that my grandmother gave us for Christmas. Just preceding this series of pictures in the album was the pictures of us opening the boxes with said outfits in them. And matching socks. My grandmother always gave us matching socks to any outfit.]

But this brings me to another point. Take pictures.

Take pictures of everyone.

Even if you don't like the way you look, get in the picture.

There are very few pictures of my mom with us as kids. There are tons of my brothers and me, but very few us the five of us, or even candids of my mom with us. She doesn't like to have her picture taken. I can show her a picture from the 1950's and know, without a doubt, her response will be, "I hate my hair in that picture." As such, she has avoided the lens. And, as a result, until the last few years, we don't have a lot of pictures of her. And certainly, even fewer good ones. There are very few of my mom holding us as babies, which I know she did. There are not ones of my mom with me at my dance recitals or my brothers' games, but you can bet your tail she was at every one of them. She still is.

My husband's family is even worse. They don't like to have their picture taken, so they just don't. For a while, if you made them, they looked like they were being tortured. Sure, they would be a great laugh on Awkward Family Photos, but it is sad when it is the last family portrait of my husband with his father.

At my great-aunt's wake a few years ago, I noticed that there was not one picture of her smiling. Now, she was not a happy woman, but she also didn't like to have her picture taken. Now, I'm sure she smiled at least occasionally. Wouldn't it be nice for her grandchildren to have a picture of her smiling?

Let the family grumble when you say "Ok, time for family pictures." Don't grumble when it is your turn to get in them. Smile. Pretend you like each other. Get everyone in them. Don't worry about how you look. Even if your clothes are the most stylish and your hair is in current fashion, it will be laughable in 30 years anyway.

The important thing is to get the picture. Capture that moment so you and your descendents can look back and know about the family. Know that you spent holidays together. Know that you had a goofy side.

Let them see the generations together.

This is the only picture I have of the 4 generations on my dad's side. My grandfather soon became too sick to sit up, but this is how I remember him, sitting at his table and reading.  For you local peeps, where I am sitting is about where the hostess stand is at what is now known as Scarborough's Restaurant.

I enlisted the help of a friend to capture family pictures. We got all the families with my grandmother and then the whole family together. She passed away just two months after we did this. I like to think the sunlight on her in this picture is God's light.
I've finally convinced my mother-in-law to let me take her picture and to even enjoy it. I love this 3 generation shot.

And for goodness sake, don't forget to smile.



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