One of our family’s favorite traditions started with a 40th birthday, party invitations, and a blank wall.
I was throwing a birthday bash for my hubby, James, and I’d planned original invitations (you know, a made-of-paper, put-in-the-mail-with-a-stamp kind of thing) with a nod to artist Andy Warhol: six prints of the same photo, each in different, contrasting colors, lined up in a grid. As per the norm for this couple, I’m vision and James is execution, so he created the appropriate images with a lot of “No, I see them looking like this…” and “Try this color…” direction. The results were fabulous; the invitations, perfect. Teamwork on three!
Now, we’d moved into a much larger, beautiful new house with lots of wall space for art.
Really big wall space. And multiple really big walls.
One particular wall, just outside the kitchen, was bothersomely blank.
As the party loomed, I had another idea–why not hang those amazingly colored, fun photos from those super cool invitations as party decoration?
To match the clean lines of our house and highlight the images, I bought six simple, inexpensive matching black 8×10-inch frames, each with an ecru mat.
Voilà! Hung in two rows of three, those framed photos created an homage to hubby and Warhol in one inexpensive piece of collective art.
Hubby may kill me for this revelation, but that party was 16 years ago. Those frames remained on that wall and we began substituting new and various photos to mark special occasions. A tradition developed–each family Birthday Boy or Girl was honored with a selection devoted purely to him or her. Part of the yearly fun was coming downstairs in the morning to discover just what photos (and in what combinations) marked your special day. Or arriving home from school or work to discover a surprise shout-out, wall-style.
When we moved five years ago, one of the first things installed in the new house was–you guessed it–those six simple frames. Oh, yeah; we’d considered what constituted the perfect location when we remodeled. There are, however, no longer any kids at this house; our three have all become adults, happily and productively living on their own. That doesn’t make them any less my babies; I still update the wall for birthdays. Only nowadays, I photograph the photos on the wall–meta, huh?–to text or post so that, no matter how far away, our children know Mom and Dad are celebrating them. Still.
We’ve amassed a truly staggering number of these Wall of Honor photos. They’re printed on photo-quality paper and sorted into file folders by theme. Every family member has a folder (ironically, mine is probably the slenderest); even pets have theirs, and don’t get me started on what weird treasures reside in the “RANDOM” file!
In between those special birthday dates, photos change. There’ve been all kinds of Wall of Honor iterations, celebrating whatever needs attention: long-time friends at New Year’s Eve, our new “We’re Thankful” November pig roast, group family gatherings, the current year’s holiday card. You name it, we frame it.
I imagine that, one day, when James and I are gone, our children will fight over who inherits this family treasure (kids, SHARE; each of you take two frames and get those photos reprinted). My fond hope? That some day, I’ll walk into their homes to discover a Wall of Honor celebrating our past tradition and new memories being made.
A Wall of Honor Update: Mixtiles
I just discovered Mixtiles, an app which prints photos from an Instagram account onto 8×8-inch tiles (less than 1-inch thick) that are delivered to your home. Hubby and I recently took a really wonderful selfie in Seattle, so I’m giving it a try–I’ll be sure to let you know what I think.