This week, as I do every year, I am putting together the 30 page iPhoto book recapping our year as a family. I add highlights and special pages for each of our kids detailing their adventures and triumphs. Most of the pages, though, are family shots of me or my wife hugging our kids desperately, while they still smile brightly in the embrace. I give the book to both grandmas as well as my wife. For years, it’s come in their stocking and my kids still always impressed that Santa knows so much about our family. My mother just sent me an email saying she often pulls the books down and pages through them, marveling at how the kids grow and change.
However, for our own kids, the value of the books is quite a bit different. Of course, on Christmas day, they want to see what is in the book and if Santa has chosen flattering photos of them or has embarrassed them in some way. But that is mostly where their reading ends. The books sit on the bookcase shelf, unread unless my wife or I pull them down to remember what was happening when.
What the kids do pull down, and here is the rub, is their annual elementary school yearbooks. Already, they prefer to relive the intense school time with their friends and ponder their relationships with their buddies. It’s inevitable, but yet another painful reminder that they are slowly pulling away from us, still happy to be in the photos, but not needing to relive the happy family memories as much as their time with their pals.