Yesterday, my mom asked what was my favorite childhood Christmas memory. I tried to answer her question, but my answer was not a true memory or even a specific memory. My memories are stories that I have crafted to match the photos taken during my childhood Christmases. I have no idea if the stories I believe to have happened are even remotely close to reality.
Who is to say that my reality would be the same as my parents’ or brother’s reality, anyway? We all perceive things differently during a normal day. Throw a big holiday on top, add 30-35 years, and my realities may be much more fictional than anything else.
But I have those photos. I have proof of what I wore and what I looked like. I have proof of the gift that was my favorite, as determined by what item was clutched in my hand for the rest of the night. The rest is made up of fuzzy edges and fantasy.
My mind fills in the time between the photos with true memories. If I have never seen a photo of a certain moment, but I can recall all the details, then I am fairly sure it is an accurate memory. Or at least as accurate as a 30-year-old memory can be.
I wonder, now that I photograph so much of my children’s lives, will anything be left for fantasy? Will they need to remember any of it? The flip camera records anything the Nikon misses. How much of their childhood will have the fuzzy-edged glow that mine has?
My grandfather took a lot of photos. I adore those photos. I feel special when I see he took a whole role of film of just my brother and me. He played around with lighting and with our expressions. I have no memory of having most of those pictures taken, but the love I feel seeing them now, brings tears to my eyes. I wish I had more than just nine Christmases with my grandfather, but I am thankful every day for the way he taught me to see life through the lens of a camera.