My family is not fond of being photographed.

With the exception of my brother — ever the performer, always willing to pose — those nearest and dearest to me never fail in covering their faces the moment a camera lens points their way. It creates mutual frustration, as they don’t want me stealth photographing them and I want photographs of the people who’ve mattered to me longest.

I’ve warned them ahead of time: Thanksgiving this year means turkey, tofurkey, mashed potatoes and digital images. Whether they like it or not.

I always have a hard time with constant photography aversion, but it’s with my family that I’m left ready to pull out my hair. I’m not a random photographer. It’s nothing intended for the front page of a newspaper. This is a member of the family who wants to capture how lovely her family is. It’s something to pass along to future generations. This is who you are. This is who came before you.

Past generations haven’t shared my sentiments. I don’t know much about family members I never personally met. I’ve had to work to pry any details from my maternal grandmother about the husband who passed away when my mother was a small child.

“What was he like?” I leaned forward, waiting for lively anecdotes.

“He was a good man.”


“A city councilman, the first commissioner of the city’s Little League.”

I don’t know what made him laugh. I don’t know what his favorite color was. I don’t know if he sang to his children when he tucked them in at night.

It drives me mad. So closed-lipped, mi familia, with so many hidden stories, ones that I know would fascinate me, always left untold.

And then there’s me. Put a notebook or keyboard before my fingers and I’ll wind up going on and on about whatever to whomever’s willing to listen.

It simply does not compute.

Which is why, before and after the turkey and Thomas’ tofurkey, I’m going to spend this Thanksgiving collecting stories. Or, more likely, the available snippets thereof. And I’m going to get photographs and make my grandmother laugh for one of them.

In the event that I ever have children, I know that those little things are going to be inquisitive. I want to give them some of the answers that I’ve yet to get.