By Damien Weidner

This year has been a whirlwind, a year unlike any other—and for some, it's one they would like to forget. Living through a pandemic has made time slip by, and that's with a shutdown, an election year unlike any other, and tragedy after tragedy. It's understandable why many would like to forget this year ever happened. However, bad as it may seem, beautiful moments have been sprinkled in among the chaos. As the end of the year approaches, it's important not to let those times get thrown out with the bad. It takes intentional effort to preserve beautiful memories as life chugs along.

For me and my wife, our beautiful moment was when we welcomed our first child, Hazel Mae, into our family. Seemingly overnight, she's grown into a little human. Every day, she's doing something new—if I blink, I'm afraid I'll miss something. So many have said, “cherish these times; they grow up so fast!” and as much as I've shrugged off the sentiment, it's still true. It feels like we brought her home an eternity ago. In that moment, everything was a blur, but something possessed me to grab my camera and take a photo. Now, looking back, I'm so thankful I did.

Over the past year, I've taken many photos like that. Little moments here and there. At the time, it doesn't feel like much. However, when I scroll through past photos on my phone, I'm reminded of those little moments—it feels like I'm looking into a whole other world. It's then I realize how much has really changed since I took those snapshots and how much they mean to me now. It brings life into perspective, reveals what really matters, and quiets the distractions.

Unfortunately, so many of these memories get lost in an endless camera roll filled with screenshots, memes, and other random photos. It becomes almost impossible to find any of the images I want to see and more of a black hole for all those photos I forgot I ever took. Smartphones are fantastic for so many reasons; this, however, is not one of them.

Making these memories tangible is crucial if we do not want to forget them. Having a physical copy of the image gets it off the phone and into the home. Wherever these images are placed, having the prints will become a daily reminder of the growing, the laughter, and the love. As my Hazel grows, these are the moments I don't want to forget.

So, for the holidays this year, I'm gifting my wife memories in a tangible form. The moment she first held Hazel Mae, realizing she is her very own. The moment they stepped onto the porch of our first home. The moment of pure joy when my wife got my daughter to belly laugh—these are the things I don't want to forget. We cherish the simple moments, for they become the memories we hold on to.

Damien Weidner is a social media coordinator and a portrait photographer. A family man first, he aims to tell an enticing story through his photographs.