Our Real Family Vacation

13 Sep 2009
September 13, 2009
Shadow Puppets in Santa Fe

I went to Santa Fe and all I got was this wonderful portrait of my daughters. Click image for larger view.

It’s the week after Labor Day. The girls are back in school and I’ve got deadlines at work. It’s been rainy and cool and I’m starting to see just a hint of fall colors on the trees above my head. Way too early, I think. Summer, my favorite season, has instantaneously migrated to fall, my least favorite. I know what’s coming (PDF). Our family vacation to Santa Fe just two weeks ago is starting to seem like a very distant memory.

Family holidays end and what do we have to show for them? Some worn out maps; a few bills to pay. My daughters came back with a few beautiful baubles from the annual Indian Market in Santa Fe. Nice, but I’m hoping they’ll eventually look back on these annual trips with more substantial family memories (and more uplifting than my wife and I took away from our own childhood family vacations). That’s evolution, right?

In order to help that along I’ve documented our time in New Mexico. I brought my video camera but didn’t touch it once. Instead, I wanted my souvenirs to be those special slices of life in between our normal family dynamics (which never seem to take a vacation). It was a chance for me to be creative while really getting away from my daily grind.

I got my best souvenir just a few days into our trip. On our visit to the International Folk Art Museum I took this portrait of my daughters. In addition to the amazing folk art tableaus from the collection of Alexander Girard, they had an exhibition of Indonesian shadow puppets and instruments. The girls gravitated to the family room off the main exhibition space where they immediately began to put on their own shadow puppet show.

I caught them in play, but the photo reflects the girls’ relationship. My older daughter on the left, a newly anointed teen, seems to be admonishing her younger sister for something. A new constant in our lives, the image reflects our family dynamics captured on camera as a family vacation memory. So much for trying to document the “in between.”

There were other photos, more stereotypical of travel. And I hope my children remember the vacation part of these vacation images: my oldest mistakenly drinking from a large water bottle of holy water at the Santuario de Chimayó or my youngest’s excitement at attending a performance at the Santa Fe Oprah. But I’ll best remember this photograph because it reminds me of where we really spent our family vacation in the summer of 2009.

3 replies
  1. Nina says:

    Oh, I think they’ll have wonderful memories… after they get past being teens! :-)

  2. Rob says:

    Interesting post and great pictures, Jeff! I predict that you will all have wonderful memories from your trip. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Mary Wetherbee says:

    I remember the first time I saw shadow puppets. I was seven years old (pre-WW II) and I was struck with wonder. They were so delicate and lovely. I think it was the start of my love for art.
    I can see them in my mind’s eye. I even remember what I was wearing and where I was sitting. I had to be restrained from wanting to talk to the puppeteers, who spoke no English. I am sure they understood my happy response to the play.

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