Photo Albums and Other Old Stuff
- September 19, 2019
- Lori Travers
Faded photos falling out of loosely bound albums have become a normal occurrence in my home and I don’t even take the time to fix this problem. There’s something about the tangible, timeless pictures that push me into another time, reminding me of experiences I can cherish and in a way, hold them in my hands.
I used to have a pretty cool Pentax camera with a Tokina SZ-X 370 macro lens. Though I didn’t really know how to use the thing, with the little I did know I could photograph memories from 30+ years ago that are still with my shabby album. And though I had to wait for the pics to be developed before I knew whether or not they were album worthy, it caused me to be more mindful of the pictures I was taking. There simply wasn’t enough room for saving 3,000 images on Cloud out there in cyberspace.
My grandbabies are 4 and 8 and it’s fun to see their faces while they skim through these antiquated portrayals. The culture is zooming through life barely making time to be still, process, think though, and even cuddle. And yes, you can do all of this while flipping through the pages an old album. They are able to see history…their mom’s, their aunt’s and uncle’s, their grandma and grandpa’s. What did people wear then? What were the hairstyles, the car models, the kitchen appliances? And what did the house that mom was raised in look like? And where in the world is New Jersey anyway?!
I am all about simplifying life and downsizing. But throwing away everything that has some history attached to it makes my heart sad. Many homes I’ve been in tend to have very little said about where they came from. The countertops are clear, there are no classic books to browse through, the furniture looks stiff and uncomfortable, and the kids’ bedrooms resemble that of a window display at Rooms To Go.
Have we been scrapping our very history?
I’m reminded of the precious story in Joshua 4 of how God allowed the Israelites to cross over the Jordan, moving forward as the Lord commanded them. He told them to pick up a stone while walking through the water that God had, once again, piled up high on either side! They then were to place those stones on the place where they were going to camp to set them up as a memorial to the glorious things the Lord had done for them. This is what Joshua 4:20-24 says:
“ And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
There seems to be a subtle fading of the past, whether it’s U.S. history, biblical history, or your family’s history. The culture seems sadly ho-hum when it comes to age old wisdom. All is fresh, new, cutting-edge…no room for tried-and-true. I realize this might sound whiny, but from what I read in God’s Word, He seems to think remembering where we came from is valuable. Trashing everything that represents another time and place simply isn’t wise because we have so much to learn from the past.
Regrettably, I do not know much about my own history. My parents had me late in life, my grandparents were all gone by the time I was 5, and my brother took any family inheritance when my dad passed away 8 years ago…pictures and all. It feels like a branch was broken off the tree and I’m standing at the bottom, unable to reattach it. I’ve learned how to move on, but more like an amputee must learn to thrive, unbalanced by what has been cut off.
If you’re blessed enough to possess an antique, use it as a history lesson of sorts. Teach your kids the value of a skilled craftsperson, the era in which it was created, personal memories surrounding the item. Let them feel textures and see colors, fancy nail heads, and mixed woods that were not stamped out in droves with little quality. Savor age-old photos.
The stones of remembrance were not just for the Israelites in a time and place that has no bearing upon you and me.
May we, in this time and space perceive the value of learning from the past, in all of its darkness and in all of its glory.