A few years ago we started creating photo cards for our holiday greetings. We like to receive them from others, so we decided to join the photo card senders group. The cards are a convenient way for those we don’t see frequently to get a glimpse of what we’ve been up to, and more importantly to see how our son has grown. Plus, they are quick, easy and fun.
So this weekend we were doing our annual task of sorting through photos we took over the past year to pick a few that were appropriate for sharing. The first thing I noticed was that we were apparently woefully inadequate in taking group family shots this year. Why can’t we remember to take casual shots of the three of us together more often? Probably because one of us is usually the one behind the camera.
The next thing I realized is that none of the photos were particularly flattering of me. Of the few group pictures we had, one was from a family outing where we had been sightseeing in the rain most of the day (ie: bad hair); another was us grouped around the campfire during a camp-out and I obviously hadn’t showered nor applied any makeup. And yet another was from a bike ride, each of us in our goofy helmets and sunglasses. My husband and son of course looked cute in each shot.
In the past, there would have been no way I would have approved the use of any of these photo choices. If I was sending a picture out to a list of friends and relatives, some who haven’t seen us in a long time, I would want to be looking my best. But this year, as I browsed through them, I started to think why not? After all, I had to admit…they show the real me.
There is a rule that my BFF and I remind each other when we are working on our scrapbooking projects. “Remember to scrap yourself.” As busy women, moms, sisters, wives, and daughters, we are frequently the ones taking the pictures…. Plus our vanity often causes us to shy away from being the subject matter. But we will be conspicuous by our absence if we leave ourselves out. And more to the point, the people looking at the scrapbooks, or photo books, or yes, even greeting cards, will want to see us in them.
One of my on-going projects is a scrapbook of my mom. I have realized how few photos we have of her, for the same reasons I mention above – so I treasure the ones I do find of her. And funny thing…. As much as I like the photos I find of my mom where she is dressed up to go out with dad, or posing for a formal beautiful portrait, the ones I truly love are of the “real” her. Like the pictures where she’s traipsing through the woods with binoculars around her neck, or wading through a tidal pool in Maine looking windblown, or bundled up with her worn scarf around her head on a pair of cross-country ski’s, or looking a little tired as she serves up a picnic dinner to us during a road trip. Those are my clearest, best memories of her, in her true Real Woman self.
So flipping back through our potential greeting card pics, I’m ok with letting the slightly disheveled-me go out. Is there the potential that someone might say “gee, she’s aged this year”? Sure. But my hope is instead they’ll say “it looks like they had a great year.”