Monday, December 19, 2011

Home is Where the Photos Are

My grandparents continue to smile
upon us from the walls of my home.
My friend Marian over at Roots and Rambles said that I got her thinking when I wrote this on my Facebook wall, "Hanging photos of my family makes home seem even more like home." Now she's got me thinking about how family heirlooms help us create a sense of place, making our house into a home.

Photos are always the first thing that come out of boxes when I move to a new home. I must hang at least a few pictures of my favorite people around me before I can turn to the unpacking of dishes, clothes, and other living necessities. When I unwrap my wedding photos from newsprint, look at the giggling face of my daughter from when she was a baby, and place a photo of my siblings on the mantle, I feel like I am branding a new home. To me, putting out photos is like breaking a glass of champagne over the bough of a ship. Photos launch my new life in a new place, on untouched waters that hold awaiting happy memories.

Marian feels similarly about some heirlooms from her childhood and wrote about them, "I never realized the impact that having items from my family and from my childhood would have on how I felt about my environment. The connection with my family and with my past was strong and powerful.  It gave me a tremendous sense of comfort."

My Facebook post about hanging photos referred to some pictures I took this Thanksgiving when my siblings came to visit with their families. And indeed it was comfort that I sought when I hung them. It has been a difficult year for me, but Thanksgiving marked a turning point and a long weekend that I hope to remember forever. I sit at a new desk that I have placed next to my Christmas tree. The walls were bare. The lights of the tree helped further warm a sunny room on a cold weekend, but the space needed these photos to make it perfect.

I have family heirlooms that instill similar comforting feelings, but for me, it has always been photos that warm me most. I was attracted to photography in high school and studied to become a professional photo-journalist in college before switching majors. Photographs seem to capture the essence of a person and freeze it in time in a remarkable way. So, while my brother and sister may live a distance away, I feel their essence smiling at me right now while I write this from my desk. Home is where the photos are because I have those faces smiling at me from every wall and I feel blessed by their presence.

1 comment:

  1. And this reminds me that maybe I should break out the few photo albums I have from my mother's side of the family.

    My sons, now adults, never knew my mother, who died when I was 17. I don't think I've ever shared those photos with them.

    It's time.