They live in albums, often tucked away on a shelf or in a closet. They're beautifully colored Polaroids or round-cornered prints with the date stamped in the bottom corner. They're stashed in an envelope in your drawer, you keep meaning to add them to that album. More often now, these tangible pieces of paper are being scanned or snapped with a smartphone and added to the World Wide Web, popping up on Facebook and Instagram for #throwbackthursday or #flashbackfriday. Or sending happy birthday wishes to your sibling or best friend with an embarrassing, hilarious photo recalling "that crazy night." You see these amazing photos and read nostalgic stories on Save Family Photos; Rachel LaCour Niesen is on a beautiful mission to save and share family stories, one photo at a time.
Old family photos give us so much. I think about the times I've gotten lost looking through just a few, then hours later I've pawed through the entire album or only made a small dent in the box under my parents bed. All the while, a huge smile on my face, out-loud laughter, or just daydreaming about "that time" or "way back when." Old family photos give us permission to take a timeout from our current lives to remember, reminisce, honor, and learn from the past -- the people and places that have helped forge our journey along the way and made us who are today. You could say old family photos are timeless, but maybe more appropriately they're timefull -- full of emotion and sentimental remembrance, a tribute to that moment in time.
My adoption anniversary was a week ago today on April 15th. The day I arrived in the United States. I always look to the same photo I have framed next to my bed of my parents holding me just a few months after I arrived in front of my grandmother’s old home in Long Island, New York, where my family hails from. I look at that photo and see my parents, who have known each other since 7th grade, so young, so happy, so proud, quite fashionable. I sense a hint of “here goes” with hearts full of hope and love that first-time parents have. So green, total newbs! I look at that photo and see my usual chubby cheeks and then curly hair. I had no clue where I had come from just a few months prior. Born to someone, somewhere in South Korea, left in a basket in a public place for police to supposedly find me and bring me to an orphanage. I was lucky enough to receive an agent through Wide Horizons For Children, an agency in Massachusetts. I always pictured Vicki Peterson sitting behind a desk, with stacks of manila folders on either side of her, somehow magically matching abandoned children with their forever parents. What a job that is. I had the honor of attending Vicki’s retirement celebration in 2011 and am forever grateful to her for making my family. My brother is also adopted from Korea. I look at that photo and feel like the last 35 years were a blink of the eye. How much has happened, how lucky and fortunate I am to have been given the chance at life that I have. I think about how much faster the next 35 years will feel. I must make them as rich and full as possible. I look at that photo and remember what matters, how important family is to me. It makes all those little worries disappear; it makes all those times of frustration and feeling overwhelmed that I haven’t finished my long to-do list, haven’t improved in rock climbing like I’d hoped, haven’t cleaned the house like I needed to. That photo reminds me none of that really matters. That I’d be nothing without my family.
That’s why I love looking at old family photos.
Why do you love looking at old family photos?