Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Life in my Years

I've always done a big Christmas card letter mailout thing. In the 90's, it was something of infamy. I've tapered its production off a bit, trending with the current penchant to abandon paper for any other type of media available, electronic preferred. My early letters were simple word documents, tucked inside of the Hallmark card chosen for the season after careful deliberation. There was one year where I lucked out and found the cutest card set, that offered matching stationary and envelopes, so that they coordinated perfectly with the card. It was like they were made just for me, as the house window on the front looked like one of my windows.

As the boys came along, I added the obligatory insert of the photograph. For the longest, I added a photo only of the boys. Wardrobes were planned, days were blocked out, family alerted - all systems go for THE CHRISTMAS CARD PHOTO SHOOT. I will confess I may have been a little too serious about it all. My guys were always fairly good-natured about it. I am consistent enough that they can predict my behavior. Time will certainly tell if my boys need therapy. 

I love my arsenal of cards and photos sent from years past. I can recall so many of them in my mind clearly. And for those that have slipped through the aging crevices of my gray matter, I have only to glance at the card or the photo and the memory rushes back to me. Good times. A good life.

At one point during the annual Christmas card exchange extravaganza, I received a letter in kind from a college buddy who I knew was taunting me with his barb about family cards with missing parents. I took his point at its merit and decided henceforth that we would send a family photo. I am not certain off the top of my head which year we first began our family photo, but I remember clearly the taking of the 2006 photo.

We had been in our north Texas home only about a year, and I knew our wooden staircase would be the perfect backdrop for the photo. Sunday afternoons are the go-to photo session timeframe. Hubby works every Saturday during the Christmas season and I've never been one of those gals that took the family photo outside of the season. The photo has to be current to feel right to me. And I need a little winter daylight.

In 2006, the boys were in 5th and 6th grade and Steve and I were in the early, kind stages of the 40's. Of course, finding decent clothes for the boys at this age that they were willing to wear and be photographed in - and that I approved of - was the biggest challenge. Once we had established a detente on what they would wear, Steve and I worked our wardrobes around them. Harry was a last minute addition to the photo. He ran up into the photo and I scooped him into my arms. I loved my little Yorkie and it seemed only fitting he be included.

About 10 snaps and I knew I had a keeper among the jpegs. When I sent the family photo out with the cards, I ended up doing a filter, so that the tone of the card was close to sepia, but the wash of the jeans was a lovely blue. I loved that we were all in our jeans and barefoot. That was how we lived at home - comfy shirts, comfy jeans and comfy toes. I love the bright smiles of the young pre-teen boys - their sweet spirits shining out, unencumbered.

This photo from December 2006 sits on my desk and I see it every day. It's one of my favorites. I loved it so much that on the beginning of the last full calendar year that we would be a family of four, I re-created it. I did the much ballyhooed scrapbooking project that year called Project Life - snapshot a day - and I wanted a photo of the four of us for the launch of my year long photography essay.

I grabbed us on a day that we were a) all home and b) wearing complementary clothes. Heaven forbid I have wardrobe requirements of my busy teenagers. It was just a simple blessing for my heart to capture us all at the beginning of that year that I knew was momentous for us all...that year that was going to go too fast for my beating heart.

I love these two photos side by side - one taken at the end of our first full year together in this home, and one taken at the beginning of our last full year together in this home. Classic juxtaposition. I love thinking of the boys, through all of our north Texas years, going up and down those stairs countless times in a day. I love envisioning them at their different heights and growth stages. I can see them in my mind's eye, growing up and up and up, rising in height just as certain as the wood planks themselves do.

I love knowing they are home - by their bounding of the stairs...or even sometimes sneaking on the stairs, as if the stairs will absorb their weight and won't reveal their passage. From where I lay in my bed, I can see the foot of the stairs. Many a time have I lain there in the AM and PM, watching for their descent or ascent.

I know that I cherish the noise of them being in the house. I know when the stairs are quiet that I am home alone. I walked up the stairs yesterday. Over eight years of traffic on them has them scuffed at the edges. I can polish them, but the paths of these boys are marked on them and I would not undo that for the world.

As I searched for elements for my page, I happened upon the little sentiment that seemed perfect for my page:

It is not the number of years in your life that count, it is the life in your years.

These boys, and our life all together, have been some of the sweetest life in my years. Sunday afternoons all together, in comfy jeans and chilling at home, is absolutely my kind of happy. 

My Kind of Happy ~ Family Photos ~ December 2012

Paper: October Afternoon
Fonts: Honey Script, Chaparral Pro

1 comment:

  1. This is lovely Penny. The papers are so warm and cozy, echoing the sentiment of your photos. Of course, wonderful photos too :)