Ever since I was a little girl, we’ve been a picture-taking family. There were five of us kids and my mom and dad, and we’d all venture to Opryland Hotel to take Christmas photos each year. Back then, we’d grab a stranger in the wild crowd of people to snap a memory of all of us together in front of the infamous tree. These memories etched in my mind are some of my most prized memories. Having lost my father just before Thanksgiving in 2016, I am thankful that we started this tradition. Having lost my home in a house fire when I was eight years old, I am thankful that we always took so many photos and disseminated them to family and friends. When we had nothing but the clothes on our backs, they were able to revive the stories of our family through the photos that we’d taken and shared. Pictures are more than vain. They’re chronicles of our lives. They’re testaments to our beings.
As Alex and my first time hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year, I scheduled a photoshoot to capture moments in time with my mom and my sisters at Cheekwood Estate and Gardens. The beautiful, historic property was perfect for the explorations that would ensue, and it was a bit of change from our usual Opryland photos which just didn’t feel right taking without my two brothers. They weren’t able to make it to our robust Thanksgiving festivities this year.
What I know for sure is that we do not have forever, but we can savor the moment through photos. We can experience the moment through them years later. I can recall the tastes and smells and moments that we giggled. I can reminisce my daddy being so enthusiastic about rounding everyone up in our van and driving up I-40 to Opryland Hotel just for a couple of photos. Those were the days. These are the days to continue trademarking the time.
Whether you get all dressed up or not, make sure you take as many photos as you can. Your descendants deserve to witness your story, and you deserve to relive it any chance you want to. Our memories fail us without proof to recall them.
Below you’ll see more than just photos. You’ll see a montage of love and conversations and memories. One day, I’ll say, “remember that time we sat and had coffee at Cheekwood and Baby Levi ate cookies and we enjoyed Christmas music. I get a sentimental feeling just recalling how we’ll tell these stories.
Christmas Photos Shot by Jennifer Cody Photo
Also, check out my sister singing “Let It Snow.”