Twenty years ago, when I married my husband, I vowed to myself that I would stay up-to-date on our photo albums.
It was easier back then, because we wed in the dark ages before digital cameras. I’d drop off a roll of film at the grocery store and pick it up a week later, praying that at least some of the pictures were decent. Then, I’d take out my collection of Creative Memories supplies, and scrapbook to my heart’s content.
Oh, how times have changed.
Now I have photos coming at me from all directions; pictures on my phone, people tagging me on Facebook, my kids taking photos, my husband’s pictures — there are so many images that it’s hard to deal with them all.
A couple of times a year I force my family to upload their pictures on the Shutterfly app so that at least we have a digital archive. But it’s up to me to turn that archive into albums. I am woefully behind, and not because my family doesn’t appreciate my efforts. They love looking at each new album I create.
A few months ago, I decided to ignore the backlog of unfinished albums from 2015-2019, and complete 2020 to put it behind me.
The 2020 album starts quite normal with cute pictures of my kids next to a snowman. “A series of snow days prompts worries that the school year will be interrupted.” Next there’s a picture of my poodle. “Merlin wishes his family spent more time with him.” Then there is a lovely collection of photos of my Girl Scout troop going to Port Townsend. But after that, things get weird.
“Rumors and uncertainty about something called COVID-19. We shop at local businesses and go hiking at Snoqualmie Falls, and then wonder if that was a good idea.”
“School is canceled and Dad starts working from home.”
“There are shortages everywhere on things like toilet paper, flour, eggs and disinfectant. Bidets become hot items and women like Grammy come to the rescue sewing masks.”
“Mom gives Merlin a horrible haircut since the groomer can’t come.”
“Chalk art becomes so popular that chalk is difficult to acquire.”
I realized as I worked, that I wasn’t just creating a photo album, I was compiling a history book that future generations might read to learn about the pandemic. Of all the albums I’ve ever created, this one was the most important. It was crucial to assemble it while 2020 was still fresh in my mind.
“Driveway visit with Grammy and Papa.”
“We stay home and explore the neighborhood.”
“Fully stocked on masks and exercise equipment.”
“The virtual school year begins.”
“We celebrate Thanksgiving at home.”
“Girl Scouts cooking project over Zoom.”
“Happy New Year! Looking forward to vaccines.”
There will come a day when my grandchildren, or great-grandchildren or maybe even my great-great-grandchildren study the pandemic in history class. This album will be a primary source document for them to refer to. I still have a backlog of photos that need tending to, but I’m glad I let 2020 cut in line.
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.