One of my Sunday activities is to work on the annual Tayler Family photo book. In theory, I will sometimes have Sundays where there is no work to be done. We don’t generate family pictures and events every single week. The reality is that I have months at a time where I don’t work on the photo books at all. Then I spend the rest of the time trying to catch up. I began 2014 with both the 2012 and 2013 books incomplete. This is a byproduct of all of the many emotional events of 2013 during our year of transition. I just didn’t have the focus to work on it. When I did find the focus again, I decided to work chronologically. Besides, I knew that the photos and family stories of 2012 would not have huge emotional landmines waiting for me.
I finished 2012 a few weeks ago and began working on 2013. There is so much family story that is not in the photo book. I don’t have any pictures of the hard bits of last year. I don’t have pictures of Kiki’s birthday being unfortunate. I don’t have pictures of my stress, or any of the other hard things that happened as we adjusted and learned. I really expected that as I put pictures into place, my mind would fill in the gaps. That I would spend my time working on the pages re-living the emotions I felt at the time the pictures were taken. Instead what I have is a highlights reel from that year. I have a record of the moments when we laughed together, when we took trips, when Mom made all four kids stand together and smile for the camera. It is a record of all the good bits. There were a lot of good bits. That version of 2013 is just as true as the harder one. The hard things do not eliminate the joyful ones unless we choose to only remember the hard things, which is kind of what I was doing.
Once I’m caught up on the family photo books, my next Sunday activity will be to put together the One Cobble at a Time book from 2013. That will have a more even mixture of the hard things and the bright ones. I expect to re-experience some hard emotions as I put the book together. But I could be wrong there too. It is possible that most of the emotion will have attenuated to only a whisper of what it once was. That would be nice.
I’ve been making annual photo books since 2007. They’re my version of our family life together. At first it was to give the kids story books about themselves. They still serve that purpose, but they also exist because I like making books. It makes me happy to see pictures and words gathered together so that people can enjoy them. At some point my kids will make homes of their own. They’ll get copies of the photo books to take with them, probably digital copies, since there will be quite a stack by then. What happens to them eventually is less important than the fact that making them and having them brings me joy. That seems like a good use for Sunday afternoons.