I have driven past this barn and silo hundreds of times. Actually I glimpsed it as I drove past the house that sits in front of it and all the trees that grow around it. It caught my eye because the new white eaves stand out in contrast to the aging wood. I expected that it would be a beautiful barn to photograph if only I could get to it – could get a clear shot of it without the cover of green leaves.
Last week Julie and I drove in the driveway and I knocked on the door to ask permission to photograph the barn. No one answered so I snapped a photo of it before we backed down the driveway (okay, I know I’m on the ethical edge). There is an empty field next to the house and barn so we pulled over. Julie said it was a different kind of trespassing. Without leaves we were able to get some images of the barn but they turned out disappointing. Maybe it was because of the poor light of a grey day. Maybe I didn’t take enough time because of the cold. Maybe the barn wasn’t that great.
So often we anticipate something, we have great expectations only to be let down. This seems to be especially true around major holidays. We want to buy into the Madison Avenue and storybook tale of loving families gathering around the tree and fireplace to exchange gifts chosen with loving care. We can see the special beverages and homemade pastries on trays. We smell the cooking goose and multiple mouthwatering side dishes. The laughter rings in our ears of children play games with loving aunts and uncles.
In so many families this isn’t reality. People who are living in alcoholic families know that holidays can be destroyed by anger and embarrassment. Unresolved hurts between family members can keep everyone tense – waiting for the eruption. Many face loneliness because of disrupted relationships or hunger because they lack sufficient income. So many in our community are receiving Christmas gifts and food from charity organizations but experience the unspoken shame and sadness that comes from not being able to provide for their family.
What seems to be needed is the ability to approach the holidays with expectations of joy along with a healthy dose of reality. My photographs of the barn aren’t as great as I had envisioned all those times I was passing by, but I had some fun while I was photographing, I coped with the very cold wind, and in the end I can feel satisfaction in being there. May you find satisfaction in creating some joyous memories during this holiday season, even if there are rough spots along the way.