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Every moment worthy of a headline

By Debbie Leffler • Jul 18, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Something is news when it is new or unusual.

That seems obvious. When a dog bites a man, that is not news, but when a man bites a dog, it is news.

When the then-new high school was being built, I worked at the Reflector. I’m sure there was a story when the construction started and when it was completed. And then there was the storm that caused one of the walls to fall in — that was news, too.

I remember getting phone calls at the newspaper that day. School officials were upset that we made a big deal (front page news story) about the wall falling in.

“Why don’t you write a story about the walls being built?” they asked.

But the day-to-day progress of the walls being built was not news; it was just what was supposed to happen.

Most of life goes on and is not newsworthy. That goes for our individual lives as well.

I was thinking about that recently. As my husband and I sat at our kitchen table, eating lunch, I looked at the four empty chairs around the table. They were once occupied by our four children, noisily talking about their day, sometimes arguing, laughing, eating slowly probably to avoid doing homework or quickly to get to a sports game or practice, sometimes liking the food I’d prepared and taking a second helping, and other times not liking the food I’d prepared and pushing it around on their plate.

Nothing remarkable.

And then there are the pictures of celebrations, birthdays and holiday meals — Thanksgiving, a Fourth of July barbecue. There are pictures of trips we have taken — that cross-country drive in our Ford Taurus wagon with four kids and a luggage rack on top; the stop we made at Niagara Falls on our way East; a vacation at the beach.

Those were special times. Relatives no longer alive are in some of the pictures and it is nice to see how we once celebrated birthdays and holidays together. The family vacation travel pictures later became trips to help move them (and their “stuff”) to college or to a new job location, and, now, trips to visit adult children and small grandchildren.

These are wonderful memories and good pictures to look back on. They help us remember who gathered around the table each year, which car was able to make the trip, what the weather was like on that drive, what the Thanksgiving turkey looked like that year.

But there were so many uneventful days — meals where those children sat at the table, did their homework there, waited for the school bus outside our house, sat in the living room playing Nintendo or reading a book. Where are the pictures of those times?

Sure there are pictures of waiting for the bus on the first day of school and the parties that marked their birthdays, but what of all the days in-between? The non-eventful, boring, usual days that we had plenty of? There are no pictures.

And yet in some ways they were more special than the “special” occasions. They were the ordinary, unremarkable things that made our lives what they were.

I know nowadays people take many more everyday pictures, thanks to ever-present cell phone cameras which are not limited by whether there is “film” in them. But the pictures of our everyday lives when my children were little are preserved only in my memory. I sure wish I’d stopped to take a picture of how wonderful our everyday lives were. That would never make headlines, but maybe it should have.

 

Debbie Leffler is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. She can be reached at [email protected]

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