The best family picture

At the dinner table the other day, my son said “this is the first year Grandpa won’t be in our family picture”. With tears in my eyes, I simply said (with all my wisdom), “you are right”. We weren’t really talking about Grandpa at the time, or really Christmas for that matter….. But… it was on his mind.

My dad had this tradition (one of many) that he thought was pretty great. He wanted a family shot of all of us in front of the house on the porch. Not just once, but every year. The first one we took I believe I was 6 years old. We would all begrudgingly moan when he said “alright kids – it’s TIME!” in his really loud happy voice that only he has mastered. We had to always be in the same position in the photo – “that is what makes it so special”. The family grew over the years… my siblings and myself got married, babies were coming, and before we knew it the family picture was now a family of 14. Of course, the pictures became a little less frequent with all of us in different cities, but they still happened. And you know what? We grew to love them. I have most of them framed in my house. And now, more than ever, I will cherish each and every one of those pictures.

My son, 8 years old, has been in about 5 of those pictures. We don’t talk about them throughout the year, yet he remembers them. He knew that this year it would be different.

Thank goodness my dad made that happen.

And just this morning my youngest daughter was talking about how excited she is to find Santa sleeping on the couch Christmas morning like he was 2 years ago. 3 years ago we videotaped the fireplace all night long in the hopes to see “Santa” come down the chimney. He did and we have video to prove it. 4 years ago Santa left his bag and had to come through the house to retrieve it. This Santa guy is pretty amazing and will be missed this Christmas. He was always doing more than necessary and constantly making memories.

Our “last” family picture was the Christmas before last. That is when all 14 of us were together.

Traditions create memories that fill your mind with peace, love, happiness, and security. Family traditions don’t need to be “loved” by all. They don’t need to be stressful or intense. They don’t even necessarily need to be fun. They just need to be just that – a family tradition. One that will be cherished in years to come. One that will pass on to new generations.

Do me a favor and make a new tradition this year. Your kids (spouse, friends, etc.) will love you for it and you will have something that can be talked about forever.

I hope this year everyone has a Santa in their lives – we will miss him in ours.

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