Jennifer Preyss-Mathlouthi is an award-winning faith writer and columnist.

In preparation for my mother’s big Disney World 70th birthday, I prepared a few games that should be a hit at the party Friday night.

I’m most excited about the 1949 trivia game I created, using poster board lined with flashing, battery-operated lights. Another display I put together is a “Guess Her Age” board, where I pinned about 15 photos of Mom throughout her life. The winner of the game gets a prize and a strong margarita.

I had forgotten how beautiful my mother was in early years. She wasn’t just a beauty. She was a knockout and very stylish throughout the decades.

It was endearing to see her in photos where she was the same age as I am now. She had little babies to care for then, and it was obvious how much care and thought went into the photos she and my father took of their little family. And this was before phones with cameras. This was back when you’d have to own a camera and set it up on a tripod and take the film in to develop the photos. Remember those days?

I couldn’t help marveling at photos of Mom and Dad as new parents when my now-41-year-old brother was born. They looked so happy with their new baby in their arms. They took him to the beach and to parties; they took him shopping and placed him next to the oversized Christmas trees during the festive holiday seasons before I came along.

Perhaps because I’m now seriously considering children, or perhaps because I’ve had extra baby time with my new nephew, it’s fascinating to look back on photos of my parents when they were just getting started in life and seeing how much of a life they’ve made for themselves through the years.

It was also endearing to see how much they enjoyed parenting us as babies, to see on their faces how thrilled they were to hold us and watch us grow up.

I’m not sure I’ve ever looked at them in quite the same way as I did this week.

There’s something about the story of life that photos from the past tell an observer, even an observer who was there looking on the whole time.

I’m sure one day, I’ll look back on the same sort of photos with my own kids and watch as they finally see how much we loved being a family.

Jennifer Preyss-Mathlouthi is a thought leader on religion trends and global issues. Email her at jlpreyss@vicad.com or follow her on Twitter @jenniferpreyss or jenniferpreyss.work.

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