Wednesday, January 3, 2007


I like to clean on New Year's Day. Something about a fresh year makes me go digging through closets and sweeping in the garage. Call it a fresh start.

This year as I did my annual "unearthing old stuff" clean-up, I found a plastic shoebox full of old pictures. Are you like me? Does a discovery like this turn your well-intentioned cleaning binge into an hour-long sobfest in which you relive every single memory? Things rarely make me sentimental ... but pictures can send me in a tailspin. Which is, of course, precisely what happened on New Year's Day.

Exhibit A: 23 year-old me holding 5 day-old Jo. Baby pictures usually make me weepy anyhow, but this one knowcked the wind out of me. First of all, I was just a baby ... what was I doing with one?!? I really don't remember being that young when Jo was born. We have a girl at church who teaches Sunday School who is 23. I can't even begin to picture her married, let alone with a baby. But there I am: sitting on the couch in my husband's baggy flannel pj bottoms, cute hair and bags under my eyes looking like I haven't slept in oh, five days or so. And Jo! I know she was a big baby (she weighed in at 10 lbs. 2 oz. at birth) but somehow I don't recall her being so round. She was a whopper. No wonder everyone who saw her thought she was two months old!

Exhibit B: Me holding 3 month-old Jo on the carousel at DisneyWorld. Talk about an alert baby. There's Jo in the Baby Bjørn, peeking over the layers of blankets and somehow looking directly at the camera as we whirled by. We're going to Disney for the first time since that trip in just a few weeks. And guess who has decided that she absolutely must get an almost identical shot with her little girl? Yes, that would be me.

Exhibit C: Was Atticus the cutest baby ever or what? All of my kids are cute ... even the ones I don't have yet. I know this because I am inherently biased toward my own children. But Atticus ... this kid was cuteness personified from the second he slid from the womb. The picture I found on New Year's shows him sitting on the floor chomping on a teething biscuit. His hair is red and curly, his cheeks are plump and pink and his eyes are big blue lakes. Man, is he cute.

Exhibit D: Too many couples have split up since my wedding. I found no less than five photos of couples who are no longer married in that box. It broke my heart to see them together, frozen in the happy moments. Each one of them married with the intention of being together forever, and yet somewhere along the line the promises fell apart. I know most of their stories--who did what and who hurt who, who hung in there and who just walked away. Looking in those faces was hard. I couldn't put the photos aside without praying over them.

Exhibit E: Logan was once Mr. Sedate. I forget this all the time. There was once a day when that boy sat on my hip from sun up to sun down, and took no interest in getting anywhere. Really. He was a calm, quiet people-watcher with no desire to do anything else. Really. No, really.

I realized as I looked at the photos that in another ten years, I wouldn't be able to have these moments of happy discovery. Thanks to the blessing of technology, all of my memories are stored on my computer. While I love the convenience of having them all on hand, I don't have hard copies of most of them. There are no doubles to put aside and forget until a later date. No image is ever really that far away; if I stay away from the computer long enough, they will begin to randomly flash across my screen, reminding me of moments from five years ago or five days ago.

And that's probably for the best. Because nothing puts an end to a good cleaning rampage better than memories.

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