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Revisiting (and Organizing!) the Past

It’s that time of year again—the cherry trees are blossoming, the days are getting longer, and then there are those two words that may or may not cause angst: spring cleaning! I may not love the idea, but it does have some merit. This year, for example, my husband and I decided to organize our family photos. I’m not talking about a small box of snapshots, but rather two large containers (each about the size of a microwave) jammed full of photos and negatives, the images spanning multiple families and generations.



Many of the more recent photos were easy to categorize—family vacations, birthday parties, and plenty of school-year portraits. Some of the other, “vintage” prints brought back memories of growing up, while others led to questions about family we never met. It is these family members that I have been thinking about the most. What was their childhood like? How did they do in school (if they even attended school)? Who was their first love? What world events shaped their experience?


Don’t get me wrong, my parents and grandparents often shared such stories with us, but as time marches on, the details get lost. I do regret not asking more questions, but that wisdom comes with age. Here’s my suggestion for your next family gathering: take the time to ask questions, really listen, and for extra points, document their answers. I promise you it will be time well spent.

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