Me, at the end of my illustrious dance career
It's always a bummer to see family photos at an estate sale, framed and forlorn, resting atop furniture for sale. If anyone buys them, it's for the frame, and presumably the photo gets tossed.
I love my family, I love images of my family, but I can't get on board with the whole concept of covering every surface of my house—or a few large surfaces designated for this purpose—with framed family photos. In mix-matched frames, cheap or expensive, or matchy-match frames. I don't like it. The clutter! Maybe it's because I don't have a ton of surface space in my house. Which is maybe because all those tabletops and shelves are covered with books, I dunno.
For a while, I thought these pictorial shrines were a Southern thing, or a Texas thang. The first time I visited Texas, I stayed at the home of Lindsay's parents. I remember availing myself of the powder room (another term I never used till moving here), and being disturbed—and then highly amused—to see it decorated with framed family photos. In the bathroom? Seriously? The best was a little oval portrait of high school Lindsay with big glasses and a floppy Cure-style hairdo sitting atop the toilet tank. What kind of crazy narcissists was I getting tangled up with? (Years later, when I was planning our wedding, my mother-in-law told me about how it's always nice and traditional to have an enormous framed portrait of the bride and groom greeting guests at the reception. Hint, hint. I'm pretty sure I told her she needed to stop smoking so much crack, or some words to that effect.)
Lindsay was a big Hee-Haw fan
That may be extreme, but I realize this need to blanket one's living space—especially the public living spaces—with pictures of ourselves is not a Southern thing; it's a human thing that's dated back centuries, probably millennia, and that I'm the weird one (weren't there family portraits on the surviving walls of Pompeii?). I guess we had framed pictures sitting around my house growing up but they were engulfed by another form of clutter—tchotchkes—so they didn't really stand out. At my own house, you'll find a gallery of family photos in the guest room—which also serves a museum showcasing furniture from our past lives. (Not sure I'm being a very good hostess: I read in a feng shui book once that it's bad to display family photos in your bedroom. Or was it mirrors?) I've limited our main public display to one photo per family member, the four you see here, which I keep on top of the Telefunken stereo console that doesn't work, in the "formal" living room that no one really hangs out in since the cat died.
There's me, age 8, fierce in my Spanish dancing costume, the last year I was forced to attend dance school. Lindsay the preschooler, in his beloved Hee-Haw overalls (really that picture is more about the overalls than Lindsay). The older daughter at age 3, surrounded by prop bunnies and ducklings for an Easter portrait (yes, an Easter portrait! Who ever thought my kids would get formal Easter portraits?). And the baby, as a baby, quite unrecognizable now but I thought she would feel left out if I didn't get her framed mug out there within a few months of joining the family. To this day, she doesn't acknowledge that photo or even believe that it's her.
The baby eternal
I'm never happy with the arrangement, I don't like the frames, and I keep thinking I need to switch the photos out for different ones, or at least update the kids' pictures, but then I can't commit to any. (I definitely don't need to be looking at updated photos of myself—happy to remain a pissed-off Spanish dancer forever.) Then I wonder, should I add more people? I mean, we have a ton of great photos, both ancient and recent. But if you add one grandparent or sibling or dear family friend, then you have to add all of them. And what about the pets? Should they be included? Live and dead? Or is it enough that they have a shelf in my office reserved for urns of their ashes, their collars and other relics?
I know. So many questions on such a small matter. But that's how I roll, in case you haven't noticed by now.