Photo Souvenirs :: a gratitude gift


I always tell Ben how the photos are my favorite souvenirs. This has been my opinion for a number of years and for a number of reasons. One main reason is because they give permission. They don't clue the viewer into the ragged  moments of the travels. They give permission to only remember the good stuff.

When I get home and the bags are hardly unpacked, I plunk myself down and start going through the photos. When I'm done with the cuts and edits, before the mental memory of a trip has set like cement and I've made my decisions about the adventure, I corral Ben to sit with me and we go through our snapshots

One after one after one.

We begin to recant the funny bits, the wow moments, the awful ones too. In the collective, the hard moments seem a little less dominating and all the sites and sounds and tastes come back without the ache of our feet and the whines of a snack time too late.

I obviously am all about being real. Being honest. Being authentic. I'm learning, however, that in the midst of authenticity is the genuine need for gratefulness. Sometimes I have to start from square one and start just thanking the good Lord for breath to breathe and legs to walk far enough to ache. 

Sometimes I do throw my hands up at the difficulty of it all. Sometimes, the best effort for gratitude I can muster is to thank God for my ability to grieve. To feel so deeply, I'm learning-even the heavy-is a gift.

This past trip was in all sorts of ways exhausting. It would be easy to want to not travel one bit. Yet, it's been a great skill to learn how to acknowledge the fullness of the hard while still ending on the beauty of the adventure.

Traveling abroad with littles is HARD. I repeat, it is hard. As in, multiple times a day looking over and thinking that perhaps this is a bit more than we could have ever signed up for.

Yet, traveling with littles has enormous beauty and so much hilarity. It takes practice, but I'm giving my self permission to choose to see things and share them as it most blesses. So the funny stories get remembered, the sweet gifts get properly praised. 

And so many sweet moments were in this trip.

Like when my girl was very sure that the castle we were seeing was, in fact, her possession. She was Queen Eowyn and she was pleased to finally find her place. So pleased was she that she wept as we left. In between tears many a tourist heard the moans of a three year old girl"My castle! My castle...I miss my castle..."

Oh sweet girl. 

It would have been just another castle tour. I'll always remember this trip as the trip where Eowyn found her castle. 

Or when both kids were splashing in a FULL SIZED bath tub together and I was more worried they would choke on their laughter than water.

The grin Ben got when he saw the life-size model of the X-Wing.

The sweet moments of quiet as we road tripped through Denmark country side.

The moments after battling through tantrums and missing baby food when all has been made right and my good kind husband leans over and says, "We're doing it."

It was such a good trip.

I suppose all this to say, I'm grateful for photos and the gift they give in their reminder. I'm grateful for the way they can remind us of so much, but give us permission to forget a bit too. I'm really super grateful I have a curly haired girl, a screechy little boy and a handsome man who makes every moment a bit more of an adventure.

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