Thursday, October 27, 2011

Photographs and Memories

I had this idea that it would be fun to put my Halloween pictures thru the years into a post on my blog. Mostly for my girls to see but also because I like to collect these kinds of memories and have them recorded somewhere. As I was scrounging around for photos I realized several things. You know I always learn things when I look thru my pictures, right? That saying, "hindsight is 20/20" never rings truer for me than when I blog about days gone by.

Digital photography is a beautiful thing. No awkward faces or bad lighting. No cluttered counters drawing your eye to the background instead of the foreground. Eyes open, clear line, smooth edges. Every event captured, tweaked, and marked in a photograph that we almost never hold in our hand.

The pictures I have from my girls growing up days are not digital. These pictures required a trip to the drug store or Fotomat to see what had been captured with a camera days, weeks, or even months earlier. These pictures were held in my hand and examined, sometimes framed but more often dropped into a shoebox or stuck into old fashioned albums that lacked photo safe paper.

When I see myself as a young mom I am catapulted back to the weary joy of those days. I hear a steady stream of giggly chatter that served as the soundtrack to our lives when small girls lived and slept and grew in our house. We didn't have a camera on us at any given moment. We missed things. Precious things that are saved only in our memory, and every now and then in a good or not-so-good photograph.

As I looked thru my photos I realized we didn't even take a picture every year on Halloween. We were most likely busy- finishing up homework, figuring out how to add a layer of warmth to a lightweight costume for trick or treating, eating our traditional pre-game meal of chili and cornbread and then afterwards dumping pillowcases or plastic pumpkins onto the family room rug to sort, trade, share, and revel in the loot. Often it would be the next day before I'd remember that I had wanted a picture.

We had our traditions, still do actually. We trekked to a local pumpkin patch and then Daddy was in charge of the carving. He would always ask, "Silly face or scary face?" and the girls always shouted for the 'scary face'. They were both little chickens and didn't really like anything too scary but on this day they wanted their Jack-o-lantern to look a bit frightening.

No carving kits, nothing to trace...just newsprint on the table and a regular old kitchen carving knife. The girls scooped out the 'guts' and watched as the face on the pumpkin took shape.

When the girls were tiny tots and we lived in North Jersey our neighborhood had big hills and lots of acreage between the driveways. Hubs put our babies in the wagon and hauled that thing up the mountain. Good thing we were young.

They didn't go to many houses but they didn't need to...just a few familiar neighbors who oohed and ahhed over their costumes and their cuteness and then home for hot cocoa and a piece of candy or two before bed. Only on Halloween.

We lived in Maryland during the elementary school years...a flat neighborhood with sidewalks and good friends.

The dads in our little cul-de-sac were in charge of trick or treating...they sometimes dressed up too and walked into neighboring subdivisions with the gaggle of kids from our court.

It was often raining and always cold.
That's part of the memory.

My girls celebrated one Halloween in England, our first year there. England couldn't quite decide if they were celebrating the holiday or not but I think in recent years its become more of a big deal. Mine were too old for trick or treating that year, but not for a party with friends.

As I look thru my pictures I realize afresh that my days as a 'young' mother are tucked snugly in the past. In 2011 I can appreciate the delete button on my digital camera.

In looking back I can also see that motherhood is full of rough edges and blurry lines. Its sometimes sloppy and almost always unscripted. Re-takes are found only in the gift of a new day, a chance to do a little better today than we did the day before. My old pictures are raw and unphotoshopped. Most of the time, so is life.


  1. Oh - now I want to go home and get out the picture albums!

  2. Great pictures, and your insight regarding retakes and life

  3. There is something about those old photos that I love. I need to spend some time looking through mine. This was a great idea for a post. The girls look adorable and their costumes are really cute. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Such awesome pictures I love how cute they are....Kids costumes an adult....I hate dressing up! Going to have to dig up some of Katelyns.

  5. Love the photos. What memories, huh! And especially enjoyed that thoughtful last paragraph. So true.

  6. That was beautiful! I love when you reminisce.

    Your post reminds me to enjoy Monday night and to be sure to take a picture!

  7. Your pictures were wonderful! Beautiful girls! And then you said that being "motherhood is full of rough edges and blurry lines. Its sometimes sloppy and almost always unscripted" - soooo true! You captured mothering perfectly!

  8. Nothing makes beautiful memories quite like old pictures, very nice post :)

  9. What great memories to go with the pictures. Your insight is great as well. This, you make sure your girls see!!!

  10. One of your best posts Joyce. I loved this!

  11. Okay, I love that poodle skirt costume - I had one just like it!

  12. Loved all the pictures. And I kind of miss the old method of developing pictures. It was always so exciting to get them and see how they turned out!

  13. Fantastic photos. And England still hasn't made up its mind!:)