Thinking about the Thanksgiving, I can’t help but remember my own childhood. Some of my favorite memories are of Thanksgivings spent at my grandparent’s house. My grandparents had a fancy dining table with a matching china hutch which was rarely opened except on these specialholiday occasions. Then we got to take out all the good stuff, china, crystal, and silver.
I remember Grandpa liked to use an electric carving knife to cut the turkey. Why such a thing ever existed is a mystery to me, but I remember the sight and sound of it well. My grandmother, Tutu, was fond of assigned places at the table. The younger generation was tasked with making each place card, and sometimes we would be allowed to decide where people sat – a big honor! I also remember Tutu had a set of tiny cordial glasses that looked like miniature versions of her cut crystal stemware, and she would let kids have a tiny glass with a tiny amount of wine with the dinner just like the grownups. She had little crystal salt cellars on the table, an old-fashioned thing that isn’t really used anymore, but I recall being so fascinated by them because they were so small and held tiny crystal spoons. They had beautiful Noritake china and this amazing set of hand-embroidered napkins and table cloth to match the china perfectly. The kind of thing you just never see these days.
At the end of dinner while people had cake and coffee, my grandmother would retire to the kitchen where she would load the dishwasher and wash the dishes, often not partaking in the dessert at all. As I got older, I joined her, and often it wound up being all the women in the kitchen, cleaning up as the guys visited with each other at the dining table. Looking back, I think there was bonding that happened between those of us who cleaned after the meal. It showed respect to the person who cooked and served all day. But it also brought us all together in a quiet moment, when all we were doing was focused effort on cleaning.
Vivid as these memories are to me, they are just stories to you – and more importantly to my kids, or my husband, or other people with whom I share my life. Wouldn’t it be cool if I had photos from some of those events or those little details that only live on in my memory? I wish I could show my sons photos of my grandfather with that stupid electric carving knife. My grandfather passed away when I was still in high school. My husband and my sons never met him. I wish I could show them what our family looked like when I was growing up. But of course, documentary photos of your family were almost nonexistent back then. Usually what you have is one or two terrible photos taken by one family member and with luck, the picture is in focus.
I’m advocating documentary family photography over the holidays because I think these moments should be captured. And I think everyone in the family should be a part of the story. Hiring a professional to capture your friends and extended family over a holiday is a way to share your history and your traditions with future generations, in a way that reaches far beyond family lore.
Much as I love oral family history, I think it can be made so much more real if you have photography to accompany the stories. Our lives are constantly changing; people move, china breaks, walls get repainted. Documentary family sessions help you tell the story of your Now, and be able to share it or many generations in the future.
Are you interested in booking a Thanksgiving family photography session? Contact me!