As I look back through the photographic record of my childhood, I see a distinct pattern.
To commemorate most every special occasion, I was hauled out in the yard, strategically placed in front of something blooming with seasonal flowers, and commanded to stare into the sun until my retinas burned away, all while trying to smile and not look too sweaty and miserable.
Easter was an especially good holiday for playing fauna to so much spring flora as the azaleas, daffodils, sweetheart roses, and all manner of other gaudy horticulture would be in full bloom. Which makes me wonder sometimes – was the picture really about me as the cute, blonde and all-around irresistibly adorable and charming first granddaughter or was it about the damn azaleas?
Brother maintains that because flash bulbs were so expensive, there was really no other option if one wanted to capture the moment we all got dressed up in our Sunday best to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. You had to leave the dark recesses of your dwelling and venture out into the harsh light of day in order to even get a clear picture. I counter that high holidays are just an excuse to immortalize the yard of the month on Kodachrome.
Looking back through even older photos as well, the subjects often do not look terribly happy to be in the picture
and seem almost secondary to a more important subject, say a horseless wagon. Their squinty demeanors tell me that they too seem to have been commanded to stare directly into the sun in order to properly accentuate the real subject of interest.
In these days of camera phones, Facebook, Instagram and the overwhelming compulsion to share every mundane event, like what I ate for lunch, in all it’s photographic, plastic fork glory, are photographs even special anymore? In fact, once I am gratified by the image on the screen, I find I am hard pressed to ever get prints made.
I have fabulous images of my life…on my phone…on my computer. But what will Sonny have? A box full of yellowed, wonderfully smelly prints of him standing by random bushes? Unfortunately, I doubt it. His childhood will be immortalized in cyberspace or on an obsolete hard drive. It will be password protected.
It’s hard to get above your raisin’s though. That’s why every Easter (and first day of school, and Halloween, and 4th of July…) I too drag my child out into the yard, strategically place him on the front steps, and command him to look dapper and happy while staring directly into a ball of fire and trying not to perspire. “Smile,” I bark in the true spirit of Christian charity and motherly devotion, “For the love of Pete, stop squinting and smile!”
After all, nothing says Happy Easter like standing in the yard by a bush and wondering if you’ll be seeing spots all the way to church.