I'm back from a hectic two days in Salt Lake City. I went to see a friend, but plans changed, schedules were busy, and there were boyfriends with priority so I left early.
The night before was an interesting sociological experience with enormous families. Mine is small, we are more on the quiet side (by comparison), and getting together is a reunion we shoot for every 5-10 years with only half of us showing up (I haven't been to one since I was a teenager). This family Christmas party was the opposite- there were so many people it was standing room only in the house and I could barely hear when I was talking with someone. A giant pot of green chili was on the stove and could have fed well over 100. There were probably close to 70 people there- and that was just aunts, uncle, and cousins. And only half of them live in Salt Lake.
I felt out of place being a non-relative at such a shindig. Especially when one of the cousins told me, "The more you try to fit in, the more you'll stand out." That was about the point when I kept my mouth shut and engaged in conversations with people who wanted to talk and not ask me questions.
That morning while talking about family, the giant Rubbermaid bin came down from the closet and we poured over the old pictures with my friend's mother, who has been organizing the albums little by little over the years when she gets the chance.
Since I had just gone through pictures with my aunt and uncle, I talked about the importance of having a designated family archivist to keep everything together in one place. In my mother's family, that was my aunt, who had duplicates of everything and an extensive file system full of the genealogy research she had done. We used to joke that she was the "picture whore" but it's a good thing she took control because it means everything is together. Since she passed away this last winter, I'm not sure who the next picture whore will be.
On my father's side, I'm determined to fill this role. My great uncle did most of the dirty work with tracking our family history back to the Revolutionary War. He was extensive and organized, and since he died, all the carefully reprinted photos, birth certificates and newspaper clippings are sitting in the trunk of my car in a plastic tub one would use to wash dishes in the sink.
I've got to get it together.
I also appreciate that we all need to hash out who's who and what's what with the photos. It means we have to get together more and consult each other to put it in order. There is nothing like someone else's family to make you appreciate your own.