A Stroll by the Mantel

I was alone downstairs the other night, with two lights on and the French doors open. The breeze blowing through them helped cool the house.

I was standing in front of the fireplace looking at the pictures that spanned the length of the mantel. I hadn't noticed them for a while. There were many new additions.

This is the place where all the family photographs are enshrined. We keep threatening to hang them on the wall in the hallway. But we never get to it. It's less spontaneous than placing them on the mantel.

If we were to hang these images, we'd have to make decisions. Who would make the cut? Do we go with the group shots from Hawaii or Paris? Shall we go with grandma as a young woman, or the shot recorded just weeks before she passed away? Nope, too much work. I'm more comfortable with serendipity.

Some prints just show up on the mantel. Many of them don't even have frames. They're propped up against someone else, looking like unannounced visitors just stopping by. I think most of them are friends of the kids. I know some of their names.

My personal favorites are the family shots. Because I have long arms, I'm pretty good at capturing group selfies. I know selfies get a bad rap these days, but I like them. They force family members to squeeze in tight against one another - something we don't normally do. One of my favorites is a B&W I took of us with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Boy, that was a great day.

I spend a lot of time writing about how to share photos online: Dropbox, iCloud, Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, and countless others. Those services certainly have their place. And when you can't be near those you love, receiving an email attachment is a wonderful surprise.

But when I'm missing my boys this Fall, I probably won't be combing through the image library on my Mac. Most likely, I'll take another stroll by the mantel and soak in those memories for a few minutes. I never get tired of those photographs.

Once I've had my fix, I'll close the French doors, turn off the lights, and thank God for my good fortune.