Lately it feels like I have been drowning in pictures. Twenty five years worth of pictures, to be specific.
For about the past twenty years, I had a big old plastic container that was shaped to fit under my bed that I have been filling with pictures. Rapidly filling with pictures. In fact, the past seven or eight years, the box has been overflowing under the bed, and making a huge giant picture disaster. I have gone through fits and starts of photographic organization through the years, trying to keep up with putting them in albums in chronological order, but there always seemed to be more pictures than time. Then that whole stupid scrapbooking phase hit, and like everyone else, it only bogged me down more, because now, not only did you have to have your pictures organized and in albums, they also had to be cute. And crafty. And if you were really on the ball, you had to have a separate scrapbook for each child. With stickers and cutout letters, and paper with scarecrows and stuff. Man oh man, am I glad that craze is pretty much over.
Digital pictures dramatically slowed the overflowing of my picture box. For the past many years now, the majority of my pictures are stowed somewhere between my computer and the box of CD's we keep in the cabinet above the computer. It's much less messy that way, and on the surface seems to be more organized, but in all honesty, I probably will never see most of them again. Also there is the problem of how many more shots we all tend to take with a digital camera. Remember when a roll of film with 36 exposures would last you your whole week long vacation? Now we take 36 shots of the cat sleeping on the couch, just because we can. We know we won't have to look at them ever again, let alone pay to have them developed. Out of sight out of mind right? But hey, at least all those cat pictures aren't accumulating under my bed.
Anyhow, one fine Saturday about a month ago, I decided to tackle the box of pictures under my bed. Audrey and Olivia helped, and we spent a good half day sorting pictures into piles by year, and going through all the old school picture packages I had crammed in there as well; the kind that comes with one 8x10 that gets hung on the wall, enough wallet sized ones for every living relative you have, and four million one-inch stickers with your kid's face on them that you never look at again. Am I a terrible mother if I admit to throwing some of them away?
Then I got some big old albums and a gigantic box of page protectors from Sam's, and spent most of another Saturday getting all the portrait- type photos put away. They are even sorted by child and grade. I really impressed myself with my follow through and organizing skills, and that one album weighs at least ten pounds.
That left me with piles and piles of snapshots, taken over a span of more than twenty five years. These were mostly the left overs- the really good shots, for the most part, had already been put into the aforementioned scrapbooks and albums. But these I could not bear to part with. They were candid shots of my kids, and the pictures triggered memories of days I had forgotten, and captured certain looks on my children's faces that I didn't want to lose, even if the light wasn't perfect. or if someone was hitting their brother or squinting funny.
So, for the past month, I have been sorting and arranging and sticking all those old pictures on whatever old scrapbook paper I have left over, then cramming them into page protectors. They are mostly in order by date, but not all the way. There are no cute captions, no stickers, no fancy borders, not even a description of what was going on in the picture. But hey, my plastic box is emptying, and the space under my bed is clean for the first time in twenty years. I'm about half way through, and not yet convinced I will ever reach the end, but I will soldier on.
And then, as so often happens, one project turned into another. Going through all those snapshots, I realized we have some great pictures of our kids.We also have beautiful kids. And we don't have hardly any displayed in our house. So I decided to change that. I got on the computer, and pulled up some pictures of our recent trips, and printed off a bunch to hang on the wall downstairs. Then I got all our old family portraits out, cleaned them up, updated the frames a little bit, and hung them on the wall too. That took another day and a half, but after nearly five years, it seems like it is about time we get something hung on the walls.
Even with all this progress, I still feel like I have pictures floating everywhere around the house. It seems they multiply in the night. Knowing that we have a few more years of school pictures and birthday parties and family vacations, I am vowing to stay better organized. But I'm not holding my breath, unless I really do start to drown in pictures.