One of the themes of The Memory Collectors is our relationship to physical objects — the memories, emotions, and power they hold for us. Every week leading up to the book’s release, I’ll share the story of an object that’s special to me.
Back in 2010, I put together a photo calendar to give to the grandparents for Christmas. Everyone loved them, so we did it again the next Christmas, and the next. Eleven years later and we’re still doing it.
When I was a kid we had boxes of old family photo albums in our attic that I loved to look at. Some of them had wide, black paper pages and photo corners, others (my favourite) those sticky pages and plastic coverings that made a crinkly tearing sound when you opened them (this was long before ASMR was popularized; now I know why it was so satisfying to peel that plastic back and then smooth it down again, carefully in order to avoid air bubbles). I liked looking at old baby pictures of myself and my brother, and seeing glimpses of my parents’ lives before I was born.
The most recent album I have is from our wedding in 2005. Like most people these days, my images are all stored digitally. For better or worse, I rely on Facebook memories to prompt me to look at my daughter’s baby pictures. Except for these calendars. Every time I come across them I find myself flipping through them, just like when I was a kid. They’ve become a physical archive of our family’s story, an unexpected blessing.