My granddaughter Kori loves to look at pictures; pictures on the wall, on our shelves, on my iPad, or in photo albums, it doesn't matter; she loves to look at pictures.
We have a number of little photo albums that hold one picture per page; Kori loves those.
The other day she found one of those albums and sat down on the floor in front of the Christmas tree and she looked at page after page of family pictures.
On certain pictures she would say to herself, "Doggy," or "Papa," or "Nana," or "Mommy;" calling out the names of someone she would recognize.
The weekend before Christmas we spent time rearranging the furniture in our living room. My daughter and I were taking everything off of the shelves and emptying cabinets on our entertainment center.
Laura brought out a bunch of big photo albums, ones with old pictures in them, and she set them on the coffee table. I was putting them in boxes to store in the garage temporarily, when I found myself opening one of the books and sitting down and looking at pictures of people I hadn't seen in years.
My mind began to wander as I thought about the people in those pictures, wondering where they were now, what they were up to, how they were doing.
As I looked at those old familiar faces and the old familiar places in those pictures my mind was flooded with the good memories they brought back.
My wife and I love to take pictures, and like so many people, we have lots of photo albums throughout the house to prove it; but I seldom take the time to open those cherished books and look at the printed memories.
But, I did that day. And I understood once again why my little 18-month-old grandbaby is fascinated with looking at pictures.
I enjoy seeing the smiling faces of people I love. People smile so nice for the camera (most of the time). There are also those poses of family and friends making funny faces, sticking out their tongues, or those other candid moments caught by the camera to cherish for years to come.
One of my favorite photos of a family gathering was taken at my sister's lake home in Wisconsin years ago. It was at my mother's 80th birthday party. My mother was seated at a table in the yard cutting her birthday cake, with all of her many grandchildren gathered around her. Every one of those kids had a finger stuck up their nose, mugging for the camera.
What a great, classy shot! A true family treasure.
When I look at myself in the mirror today, the man I see staring back at me sure looks different than those photos from those old albums. My hair is nearly all white and closely cropped today. In those old pictures my hair was dark and long and held in place by lots of hair spray. And I am a lot thinner today than I was in many of those pictures.
We change a lot over the years. We all do. And I have pictures to prove it.
This week, we will enter into a new year. We don't know what 2013 will hold for us. I know we all hope and pray for the best. But, one thing is certain, there will be changes. Some things will remain the same, but there will be changes none the less.
And I am going to have my camera ready to capture some of the memories we will make. And Kori and I will take turns looking at pictures.
I do know that one thing I want to do in 2013 is to try my best to make sure the picture others will have of me will be a good one. That is something I will work hard at.
I want to be a good example for others. I want others to see me in a positive light. And I want to make sure that when I stare at the picture of myself in the mirror that I see an honorable man, a godly man, and a good man looking back.
We are the only ones who can make sure our picture is a good one. And I know that other people will be looking at that picture too.
Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.