Thursday, May 25, 2006

All in the family

Mi familia
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
Just about this time a year ago, I received an unusual gift - a photo frame that looks like a family tree with metal-esqe medallons dangling from decorative limbs. It's just big enough to accomodate seven locket-sized photographs.

This is exactly the type of doo-dad that would stop me in my tracks at the trinket shop. The kind of thing that would have my head spinning with possibilities. I might even pick it up and carry it around for a while before I talked myself out of buying it.

Sadly, I'm not nearly as crafty as I appear. If it takes scissors and glue I'm likely to throw my hands up in the air and call a truce. Sure, I made a photographic Family Tree for Annabel, collecting dozens of images from our families' histories, but the cutting and pasting required was the virtual variety.

The frame has migrated around the house for the past 12 months. Moving from table to table, mantle to mantle. But sadly, it still contains the images of strangers that came ready-made.

As I aimed my camera at Annabel today, trying to capture her "writing a card," to Ama Linda, who will be visiting soon as she makes her way home to Maine for the summer, the tree was foremost in my thoughts (and shallowly in my viewfinder).

It occured to me just how excited I was at the prospect of seeing my mother-in-law, and how lucky I am to have real, honest-to-goodness family (who make the effort to come and see us, gush over our kidlet and sing into the answering machine on our birthdays) and not just two-dimensional reminders of their existence.

There are other things I take for granted, too: I remind myself how nice it is to have my own parents a stone's throw away; how much I miss the people who have their own busy lives and schedules to keep across the country, even though I know they'd like to live nextdoor; and how amazing the Internet is for allowing me to keep in touch with every one of them without even thinking about it.

It's a good thing, too. Because otherwise, I know I'd have to give names to the ready-mades and invite them for Christmas. That's just the kind of gal I am.


Mom101 said...

I say, mix the ready-mades with the real family. It's the closet anyone can ever come to picking their relatives.

wordgirl said...

Although a photo tree like that would have charmed the pants off of me, I would be totally thrown by the need to measure and cut (and that means using number sense...which I don't have) in order to make the pics fit. And that would be hard.

toyfoto said...

I can honestly tell you the thing is intimidating.

Andrea said...

I like it. That's the kind of thing I'd go for. Don't get me wrong, the frames would have the store people in them for a few months. But I'd get to it. And then I'd be proud. My problem is finding the pictures to put in. I'm not as good at taking the pics as you are.

One of the biggest struggles my hubby and I face is the difference between the interaction with his family and my family. My family doesn't go out of the way for people and unless something is on their home turf, they don't much trouble themselves. Like this holiday weekend. We're traveling to see my parents, grandparents, and an aunt and uncle. The aunt and uncle are having a BBQ Saturday night, and the grandparents don't know if they're going, even though they live 5 minutes away, even though they haven't seen us since Christmas and that was only for one day.

On the other hand, last Tuesday was my husband's cousin's birthday. We had dinner and cake and ice cream together, cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. In two weeks, most of the family is taking a 20 hour drive to the beaches of North Carolina for 10 days together. It has its stressful moments because no family gets along all the time, but oh the memories.