thank you for the memories

Every family has strange, special, and meaningful holiday traditions that other families just don’t understand. These yearly traditions may seem more than a little ridiculous, but the love is always there. Unfortunately, things happen and life can seem cruel and the ones that we love won’t always be at our beloved Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas mornings, and all the little moments in between are forever changed.

When losses happen in what seems like the worst time of the year—although there is definitely no “right” or “good” time for it—during the holiday season, it threatens to ruin the whole thing. It can be almost impossible to enjoy yourself during these times because of course, you miss them, and there is a certain amount of guilt involved in enjoying yourself too much. There is not a lot that can be done to curb these feelings, but there is one thing that has been proven to lessen the pain just enough: old photographs.

When someone you love is no longer around to participate in all the family craziness that happens this time of year, sometimes looking at old photos is just enough to brighten the mood and bring along good memories that give just enough spark a bit of life and joy to the current situation. With photos as inspiration, we can laugh rather than cry in remembrance of holidays passed. Instead of being upset about them being gone this year, we can look at photos and laugh about the time Grandma set the sweet potatoes on fire in the oven. Or the time when your brother’s wife spilled food coloring all over the kitchen and effectively tie-dyed the white countertop making us all laugh so hard we almost wet ourselves.

There is something to be said for living in the moment. Leaving behind the cell phones and cameras for a bit, especially in today’s media-driven world. But there is also something to be said for making your kids pose in front of the fireplace with their grandparents and smiling on three. For requiring a photo to be taken with every birthday dinner, cake, and present. For making scrapbook on top of scrapbook so that someday, your thirty-year-old kids can sit on the couch when they come home for Thanksgiving and reminisce about the good old days in that happy-sad way that we do.

Photos possess a kind of magic that can take us back to the exact way a moment looks and feels, to the people surrounding us when it was taken, and often a longing to go back that moment maybe otherwise forgotten. Be thankful for the times when you don’t feel like smiling for one more photo in front of the tree, just like the however many years of your life. Someday that photo will represent something that is no longer there and words can’t express how grateful you will be for that photo, that moment.

Be thankful. For family, for friends, and for photos that are taken of those family and friends. Our memories would be blurry without them.