I am probably in the minority, but I absolutely LOVE January. Not that I don’t miss the sun or the warm weather, but January is a time for me to totally snuggle into home and hearth and give up all deadlines. January for me is all about staying home in yoga pants and sweaters, catching up on all of the movies and shows we didn’t have time for in the summer, making lovely home-cooked meals and comfort food, reading books wrapped in a blanket on the sofa with a cup of tea, board games with close friends and good wine.
This is also the time of year that I make a point to tackle some project that most of us dread, or that takes a crazy amount of time but has to be done. Two years ago it was sifting through our home videos and transferring them to DVDs. Last year it was getting our wills and estate planning done, as well as gather up all of our important documents, account info, etc into one thick binder easily accessible by our children if needed . This year it’s working on organizing all of our family photos and compiling them into manageable media, ie. hardback albums.
I think the theme is obvious here. Middle age is hitting me hard. When you are a young mom and think of the future, you think about getting ready for your kids to graduate, go to college, get married – and all of your efforts go toward that, emotionally & financially. When you are a middle aged mom and think of the future, you think about preparing in a whole new way. You start to see your parents and all of your friends parents downsize, consolidate, release everything that doesn’t matter and start to make room for what does…and you pay attention. You start to think of everything in your life in terms of lasting value, to you and to your children. You start to think of what will be left behind. You start to think of what you want that to be.
I am fortunate in that I already know what that will be. It’s the photographs.
I always knew it would be the photographs. The instant my first child was born, I was seized with the need to capture her on film, to freeze moments forever so that I would never forget the sweetness of them. And I knew that I didn’t want the only images of her to be the ones done at Picture People. I started thinking about photography and soon had a really good camera. I took a ton of pictures of her, trying to capture the everyday miracle of her. Every once in awhile I got a good one. My friends and family all oohed and aah-ed and requested copies. I remember how thrilled I was to get this one – I loved her expression and her peeking from the tree:
It really is a pretty good shot. Some would say it’s wonderful. If Facebook existed then, I’m sure I would have gotten several “OMG she’s so cute!” and “You should be a photographer!” comments. But the problem now is, although I have this picture which means a lot to me, I don’t have any professional pictures of her like this… because I didn’t realize that they could be SO MUCH BETTER. I didn’t think the difference in exposure, sharpness, clarity was very different, and I didn’t think the expense was worth it. I had other things to spend money on. This was plenty good enough.
Yes, I was on a budget, but who isn’t? I managed to buy them nice clothes, shoes, toys, books and games, NONE of which we still have and don’t care that we don’t have. Trips to Chuckie Cheese and McDonald’s. Music CDs and boy band concerts. Oh, and I took them to Sears at Christmas and Easter to get pictures for the relatives. Girls sitting on the Bunny’s lap or standing next to a giant “4″ for their birthday. Gimmicky and cheesy and NONE of which I would ever put on my walls now. I so wish I would have skipped the money I spent on that and budgeted for really good photography, no matter what the cost. My girls SO deserved it. I SO deserved it. And my grandchildren deserve it.
This is Stacey’s daughter Genevieve, in a photo I took of her last spring when she was playing in the yard. She is so REAL in it – the childish nail polish, the slight gap in her 7 year old smile, the texture and slight wave to her hair, the exact brown of her eyes. Sharp, well lit, clear, expressive. A photo that someday will be studied in wonder by her own daughter, looking for resemblances and clues to the child that she was. A photo that is going to be left behind as an heirloom, and deserves to be. A photo that is worth every penny.
A photo that is priceless.