Picture This….

How many printed photos do you have in your home? When was the last time you printed a hard copy of a photo?  The other day I realized that a house only really becomes a home when it’s filled with pictures.

I grew up in a house that had photos capturing the special and everyday moments in our lives. They didn’t cover every inch of space, but there were enough on the walls, fridges and shelves to make us smile and remind us of moments filled with adventure and fun, filled family and friends.

In my 20’s when I moved out, my little studio apartment was filled with faces and places I loved.

I don’t know why when I was married, there were barely any photos in the house.  I don’t know why I never went the distance and framed pictures, or stuck them on the fridge door. Other than a wedding picture on the mantle and one or two formal photos of our family, there was nothing.  Even when my kids were born, we didn’t plaster the house with grinning baby faces and awkward school photos taken each fall.

For over a decade, I was vaguely aware of this sterility, of a house with no photos, but to this day I don’t know why I didn’t act on it. How hard is it to print a picture?

I never realized the importance and comfort to be found in those moments frozen in time until I went to visit my aunt and uncle in Boston a few years ago. I was nine years and two kids into a marriage that was having problems.  I didn’t want to admit to myself or anyone that it was in trouble, but I was taking a few days to visit my family whose home I hadn’t seen in over a decade.  Upon entering their foyer, I was greeted with a tasteful sea of photos marking life’s milestones and spanning decades.

I can’t say exactly what hit me, but at that moment I was awash with sadness and found myself wiping tears out of my eyes. This was a home.  My house was just a house.  It didn’t display those moments of joy. Because the truth was, every time there was something to celebrate, it was more of a tactical manoeuver in organization and political correctness, than it was just being in the moment and being happy.

These photos dancing in front of me were all happy.

Three years after that visit the separation papers were finalized.  My kids and I moved into our home last summer.  It’s been a busy few months unpacking, organizing, and finding balance with my boys and their schedules.  But last weekend I finished the first phase of my project, creating a memory wall of photos.  There’s a pathway from my hall to my living room and down to the den that’s complete with pictures and moments of mayhem and fun.  There’s a fridge door with smiles on impish faces. My kids were so excited to see them, recalling those moments and talking about where they were when the photos were taken.  After 13 years, it feels finally feels like I’m living in a home.

If a picture tells a thousand words, there are lots of stories now surrounding us with laughter and love.

Are you living in a house or a home?  If your walls are bare, or your fridge is clear, it may be time to download some photos. And on days when your happiness (or sanity for that matter) may be tested, it’s those smiles and memories will help carry you through the darkness and remind you of what a wonderful life you have.