Seriously. Is there a better holiday than Thanksgiving? A whole day to just eat fat food and give THANKS (and drink wine, lots of wine and then finish it off with lots of Bailey’s). Yes, I understand it was born out of white Pilgrim man genocide and when you think of it like that it puts a tiny damper on the day, but what it has become and what it stands for is pretty awesome.
I am a big believer in being grateful. I feel lucky that it is not a part of my makeup (or upbringing) to WANT a lot of things. I am certain I am failing my children and raising ungrateful spoiled people, but as far as my parents went, they did it right and they instilled in my sister and me the understanding that things, material things, are not the most important things in life. That being together, that every second that we have together, is what is important and it is not guaranteed and to not assume that every day we have with each other is just granted to us. It is a blessing and not saying “I love you”, “be careful” and hugging is not an option. I am so fortunate that I grew up in a loving and affectionate home and I do not waste opportunities, EVER, to touch my kids, to tell them I love them out of the blue for no reason, and to let them know that spending time as a family is my favorite place to be. We are blessed and I like that there are enough people the world that feel that way that there is a whole holiday devoted to counting those blessings.
Something that I do tend to take for granted is my job and what I give people. It is work for me…get up, go someplace, shoot some people then sit at my computer for hours and HOURS and then deliver them their pictures and then on to the next…over and over. And most certainly, at this time of year when I have been going strong since April with portraits and weddings I start to get to the end of my little rope. I begin to let thoughts of self pity sink in and I have even been known to resent having to to my job. I put out consistent work, but it feels worky to me sometimes and I know that it is time for a break. It has taken me awhile to realize that shooting, actual shooting, is my biggest stress reliever and that if I can curb my “poor me” thoughts as I hop into my car to shoot ANOTHER wedding or baby, I will feel 1000 times better when I am done with the job. And that is just it, when I think of it like a job it loses it’s luster and I lose sight of what I am actually doing. Giving people a day. A whole day to keep forever. A day that that is THEIR day and because I do what I do, they will have it for the rest of their life.
And that, for the love of God, is pretty amazing.
Because I got my sorry, self-pitying self, into my car and went to a place with my trusty camera, I am giving people one day that will never be forgotten. A day when the sun was shining and in their arms is the only place that their babies want to be. That they laughed out loud and looked at, REALLY looked at, their kids and marveled over how beautiful those people are that they made and how impossible it is to love someone as much as they do. A day that isn’t filled with ear infections and doctors appointments, or traffic, or worries about how their babies are dealing in school and who they will become, or the late electric bill or the endless laundry or the fact that their husband won’t put his friggin dish IN the dishwasher, or grocery shopping or dirty houses and no time to clean…all of that goes away, and then parents grab their kids and tickle them and laugh with them and know that THIS is what matters and THANK GOD we will have it forever because a lady who drank too much coffee on the way over is there with her camera. Parents will remember what it sounded like to hear their babies laugh, and what their little baby teeth looked like when they smiled up at them, their little waistbands with a diaper sticking out and how innocent they were and clueless to what life can hold. To our babies we are EVERYTHING and being happy and playing in the sunshine with the only people who matter is heaven to them. It is perfection and even though they won’t remember the feeling of that day, because I do what I do, they will know it happened. They will know that they were small enough to fit in heir parents arms and that that was the only place they wanted to be. When they get old and their own life fills up every inch of who they are, they will be able to look back and see that there was a time when it was simple and the only thing that mattered was being together. And hopefully, it will remind them that it is all that really still matters.
I wanted to share with you Abby’s family before I shut it down for the long, thankful weekend. These pictures and her family encompass every sentiment that I have written so far today. The baby giggles and the laughter from both Abby and her husband Ben stuck with me that day as I drove away from them, this amazing family who I feel like I have known all my life. I knew as I was shooting that I was throwing technicality out the window..it was 10am on a bright, sunny day with no real shade and while this on any other day would be cause for me to shut it down and then go feel sorry for myself, I instead embraced it and embraced them and let go of the need to shoot technically perfect and instead shoot a day..a forever day. They made me rethink, a little bit, the way I shoot. It doesn’t matter if every part of the picture is tack sharp and exposed perfectly. It doesn’t. The expression on Abby’s face as she hugs her boy tight or the way that sweet, spunky Gwendolyn looks up at her Dad, or the look in Ben’s eyes when he is holding his babies. THAT is what matters. It only matters that Emmett will be able to look back and know that there was a time that he fit perfectly in the nook under his father’s chin and that Abby will be able to look back remember what it felt like to snuggle both of her kids tight on a cold fall day when the sun was shining the brightest, clearest yellow light knowing that she had everything she needed right there in her arms. It matters that Ben will remember the way it felt to wrestle with his loves in the leaves and what they looked like as they cracked up in a way that only he can make them crack up. THAT is what matters. And I am so grateful that the path I chose to take in life allowed me the privilege of being a part of that day.
Thank you Abby, Ben, Gwendolyn and Emmett for reminding me WHY I do this and just HOW important it is. For being the wonderful family that you are, for loving each other as much as you do and for inviting me to share a little part of a forever day with you.
GO be thankful, people. Abby, I am thankful for one thing above all..that we didn’t lose you forever in Menden lake.