Monday, January 2, 2012

Under the Tree of Tinsel

A good snapshot stops a moment from running away. ~Eudora Welty

It was their first Christmas together as a married couple. They’d married in mid-January at 8:00am in the morning, a time which would allow her boss a chance to attend before returning to open his shop. "I was like a daughter to him", Mom explained. After the wedding, they took off and drove several hours until they reached their home, their first home. One year and ten days later, they became a family of three. This picture was taken just a month or so before their first child, Linda, arrived. It must be her teddy bear Mom is holding in the picture.

This picture was one inside a stack of photographs given to me a few days ago, a belated Christmas present from my cousin Cathy. Cathy’s Dad, my Mom’s brother, passed away a few months ago, and Cathy saved a few of his photographs to give to me. They included several pictures of my Mom and Dad’s wedding day, shots of my parents with their own parents, and a few of their early years as parents themselves. As I opened the package containing these photographs, I felt my eyes water in gratitude. All in black and white, the images are striking, expressions on my loved ones’ faces captured forever.

I have always loved taking pictures and ever since I got my first camera when I was barely in first grade, I’ve been fascinated by how a photograph can preserve an emotion that otherwise would fade in one’s memory. There is beauty in our attempt to capture time in this way and in the way photographs become more precious as time passes.

The photograph of my Mom and Dad sitting together under their Christmas tree is one of my favorites. I love the way my young Mom is holding the teddy bear, the way my youthful Dad has his arm wrapped around his bride of nearly a year, Dad’s slippers and socks, Mom’s white blouse, the furniture, and even the way I see strands of tinsel on the tree, the same type of tinsel my Mom had us don our tree with for years. She explained to us how the Christmas lights would be reflected in it and that if placed one piece at a time (rather than thrown in clumps), the tree would look truly beautiful.

It makes me smile to see how very happy and content my parents look in this photograph. How blessed I was to have been born to these two wonderful people another 16 years, 16 Christmas trees with strands of tinsel, later.

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