Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Family Photos

Will this be the year we abandon the ‘family picture?’
So Christmas passed, and soon Hanukkah will too. For the first time in thirteen years, the Breens have not taken a family photo to send out and to keep as a record of our kids growing taller and their parents growing older.
Something in the equation of {December = this ‘n that} has been lost on us this year, and I have no explanation. We are still here, and we are still very much a family. DH still takes artful photograph, and my kids, in their mother’s opinion, are as fully worthy of being photographed.

Three years ago my mother passed away the day after Thanksgiving. We intended to take the photograph a week earlier, and I was going to bring the one we chose to show her. Something came up, and we postponed it by a week. My mother loved those photos, and the thought kept ringing in my ears: you should have taken it when you intended, so she would have seen one last Breen Team picture.
It took all the muster I didn’t know I had to get it done only a week later. I thought of it as a sort of act of defiance: Here Mom, better late than never. But we did it, and this one’s for you.
Note we are all wearing black except for my daughter who wore her grandma’s favorite color instead.

The next year my father died, also right after Thanksgiving. He was the one who scanned the printed card for me, so I could send some electronically.
All I could think, while smiling at the unmanned camera, was that he would have raised an eyebrow at the backdrop of an aircraft carrier behind us, seemingly abandoned on a rainy day, and his family looking oddly happy.
It was bitter sweet, thinking of the first time in ions that he would not have scanning duty, and would not see the card.

But we did take the picture, and we did send the card.

We barley managed last year, but we did not let December pass without.

Not this year.
What‘s our excuse? Could it be that I just can’t envision anymore who the audience for our photo is?


  1. It's bittersweet, but I've noticed the same thing, with traditions changing as the kids grow older and elders of the clan pass on. You certainly have a lovely and photogenic family.

  2. I think this is normal. Time changes things. When my daughter gets older, I'm sure I won't send photo cards anymore. And when loved ones pass during the holiday season, it makes it difficult to want to do certain things like this.

    Happy Hanukkah!

  3. Thank you for your touching post, Mirka. I think many people have bittersweet feelings around the holidays--I certainly do. You have a warm, appealing, friendly-looking family!

  4. Mirka, I will always enjoy your family photo if you choose to send one. But I agree with Ruth and Kelly that family traditions can change and it can be okay, even if bittersweet. Our Christmas this year has been very different. We couldn't make plans involving other people, even our own children because we didn't know when we might need to be traveling out of state to help with a new grandbaby. And our children decided that the way we'd been doing gift exchanges was not satisfying, so we cut way back on gift giving. As I said, it was a very different Christmas. I'll be searching for new ways to make it all meaningful next year. New traditions can be started at any time, and, I'm sure, have the potential for being just as special as past ones. Hugs to you, dear friend.

  5. Aw, Mirka ... it's hard when a loved one dies near the holidays. My mother was sick all through Nov and Dec. and died in Jan. 25 years ago, and it can be so hard.

    However, I love sending and receiving the family pictures. I save all the ones from our friends (including the homemade cards, letters and poems) and they go in our photo album! Sometimes we take them out and read them and it's such a joy ... the next best thing to a visit. So don't give up on the family pictures. You have such a beautiful family.

  6. We did family photos until the year the best one showed Older Son rolling his eyes; I think he was in 4th grade at the time. We knew then it was time to pause the tradition. We started it again when they reached the other side of adolescence...but somehow, this year, we forgot, too. And I'm really ticked, because there's about 20 lb. less of me this year than last and it would have been nice to have a record! Perhaps after supper tonight...

  7. What a beautiful family! I enjoyed seeing your cards :)

  8. Beautiful family! I know what you mean, though! I don't have a single "Christmas Family Photo" with all of us in it. I wish I did. One of us is constantly taking pics, so not everyone can be in the pic at the same time until I learn how to use the delayed timer!

    When you lose folks you love, grief is necessary. Maybe taking a break from your photos is part of your grieving process. Ya know? After my dad died, I couldn't write a word for months. Then one day... I did. I've been back in the groove ever since.

    And maybe one day, you might decide to go back to the Christmas family photos. Maybe it will be a type of celebration. But if you don't... that's okay, too!

  9. It's possible the picture is tied up with your grief process, and later you'll feel drawn to do it again. Or your kids might get to the age where you naturally stop. Whatever you decide, or merely end up doing, is fine. Sometimes we have to feel our way along.