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the best present ever…

After spending the month of November buying a house, remodeling, moving, photographing families and sending out photos for other people’s Christmas presents… it was time for me to think about my own Christmas presents.

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But I was feeling unmotivated, broke and out of time (we only had 18 days in our new home before our annual Christmas pilgrimage to Carbondale, Illinois.)

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But there is no place under my Grandfather’s Christmas tree for excuses.

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My Grandfather purchased and wrapped 100 gifts this year, so I had to get my act together quickly.

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Luckily my family likes my photos, so often times prints become my default gift. But this year I wanted to be more creative.

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And then it occurred to me… my mom gave me a baby book after Harper was born, which she very sweetly (and repetitively) encouraged me to use, reminding me that these days go so fast and that if I don’t write these memories down I will forget.

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But the baby book, although super cute and exactly the one I chose, was not inspiring me. Every time I sat down to work on it I would get stuck on family history I didn’t know or on an irrelevant question that I didn’t care about.

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And the thought of making one more scrapbook (I was a scrapbooking fool in high school, before scrapbooking was a verb) that would fall apart in 10 years… did not appeal to me.

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So I decided to make my own baby book that I would give to our parents and to Arann. Several 4:30am nights and 240 pages later, here it is…

 

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/3167637/da0665459db77ed5cf1ff47b5a47d0d53f054431?ce=blurb_ew&utm_source=widget

 

Watching my mom and Arann open their copies and flip through the pages on Christmas was the best present ever.

Making an Exception for Tradition…

This is my extended family. Every year we all meet at my Grandparents’ home in Carbondale, Illinois. This year for our family portrait, I wanted to emphasize how far we all travel in order to continue our Christmas family traditions. And to summarize for you: the total number of the miles traveled by all of my 17 relatives and their spouses in order to get to Carbondale, Illinois is: 31,327 miles (32,025 if you count the dogs’ journey) and 64,050 for a round trip.

Those are a lot of miles and that is a huge carbon footprint… and that doesn’t include all of the presents, and wrapping paper, and trips to the mall.

Being a person who cares a great deal about the environment… the crazy amounts of consumption that occurs in one week is embarrassing… but at the same time… I feel incredibly lucky. I feel lucky because:

  • I have an amazing family, and we have wonderfully bizarre family traditions that we have carried out for as many years as I can remember…
  • I know not many people have such a strong extended family, especially one that is so spread apart…
  • and because I know that these traditions will not last forever, so I better enjoy them while I have them.

So, for the spirit of Christmas and for the love of family, I try and contain my environmental gripes, and I wholeheartedly throw myself into the crazy seasonal consumerism as much as possible. But I still do little things to try and make myself feel a little better, such as shopping at the local Carbondale stores, instead of the big box stores and chains, and wrapping all my presents in newspaper and reused paper, and preventing my paper-plate-loving relatives from adding to the overcrowded landfills, just because they do not want to do dishes.

And in the end… traditions make it all worth while. Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for bringing us all together for all these years, and for teaching us the value of family. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

We interrupt this program…

…to say that I am in London this week to photograph a wonderful friend’s wedding. So I am taking a bit of a break from my usual blogging. But I promise, no re-runs next week. I will be back in Petaluma mid-week and hopefully full of all kinds of wonderfully inspiring photos. Say please stay tuned.

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