I have often wondered why people didn’t smile in pictures taken many years ago. It didn’t really make sense to me, because it seems that most people were happy with their lives. So why not show that they were happy in the pictures that were taken to remember them. Weren’t these pictures were intended to show their descendants who they were and tell a little bit about their lives? I always thought that it was a bit sad that there were so few smiles. And I have wondered why people didn’t tell their kids to smile, but upon further thought, and a look at the picture of my in-laws with all the grandchildren they had at that time, I think maybe I now have a little bit better understanding of it. Maybe it wasn’t totally intended at all, or maybe it was. I suppose we will never know.
I was there when these newer pictures were taken, of course, so I know for sure what was going on. We had taken pictures of several families, and multiple other group shots. We had been through the fidgety kids, the bouts of tears, the laughing at the ones in tears, and we were past nap time for some of these kids. We did our very best to get them to smile for the camera, and most of the time they did pretty good. Nevertheless, by the time we got to this picture, we were pretty much over the picture taking, and no one was doing any smiling. Sometimes there is just simply nothing you can do about a bad picture, except to chalk it up to experience, and move on. You can hope that the next time pictures are taken, everyone will be in a better mood, but quite likely you will find that there will be at least one or two who will feel the same way next time as they did this time.
Looking back in those old pictures, I thought maybe it wasn’t a matter of collectively deciding not to smile. Maybe they had work to be done on the farm, and they didn’t really want to be there taking pictures. Or maybe they just hated being all dressed up in their Sunday best on a week day, or maybe the kids were fussy and needed a nap, and maybe they were just tired. I mean, after all, everything was a lot harder then. They didn’t have the modern conveniences we have today. Maybe they were just too tired to smile!
In my living room is an unusual chair. It is an office chair, but it does not sit at a desk. Someday, I suppose it will be taken away, but for now it serves to remind me of some happy memories. The chair was one that was given to me by my boss (don’t tell him I used that word, because he hates that word…so it will be our secret, ok). It was intended to go downstairs to my office, but it just never got there.
You see, my 4 little grandchildren found out that the chair turns around, and…well, it was my fault really…if they were fussy, we would put them in the Whee Chair, and turn it around like a merry-go-round. Within minutes the fussy grandbaby was squealing happily, “Whee, whee!!!!” Hence the Whee Chair. It was a great way to entertain them. There were many times we would have more than one of them in the chair, and even the occasional fight over who got to be in it. We finally had to make them take turns.
As time went on, the kids learned to maneuver the chair themselves. Rarely did a day go by, since I have had the great blessing of being able to see my grandchildren almost every day, that one or up to three little kids weren’t squeezed into that chair, begging to be spun around. And rarely was once or twice enough, so it was a relief when they were big enough to do it themselves too. Had it not been for that, we might have been worn out a lot.
Yes, it’s funny the things that kids can find amusing, given the chance to use their imaginations. So, the Whee Chair still sits in my living room, although it no longer provides rides for children. I suppose one day I will reassign it to another location in the house, but I think that day will make me a little sad, because it will be the closing of the childhood days chapter of my grandchildrens’ lives. Not that those days aren’t all but over now, since my youngest grandchild will be 13 in September, but rather it will mark the point when I accept that those days have come to a close.