Over the holiday break, Shannon and I spent a couple of days in Jackson visiting my side of the family. Because neither of us get many days off due to our work schedule (life in the news business), we usually drive down over a weekend, typically after Christmas.

This year was no different.

I called my mom and sister a few weeks prior, as usual, to get an idea of what the nieces and nephew were hoping for in terms of gifts. The response I got from them this year -- no gifts.

“Don’t worry about gifts this year,” my mom said.

“We’re trying to save up to go to Disney World, so we’re not giving gifts,” my sister replied.

So, being the fool that I am, I believed them and we brought not one gift to the family gathering.

When we arrived at my mom’s house, we were greeted by her, my brother and his fiance and -- gifts.

“I thought we weren’t giving gifts,” I said to my mother. “No gifts means no gifts.”

My mom just laughed.

We were given a few gift cards, the usual item given in my family, but Pete and his fiance, Jillian, gave us all something very special. It was a matted collage of family photos, including every member and soon-to-be member of our family. The standout for me was a photo of Pete and I when we were young, decked out in miniature 1980’s leisure suits, along with our dad, who passed away in 1995 from lung cancer.

There’s a story with photos and my family.

After I was born, and pretty much until I graduated from high school, a Polaroid photo was taken of my sister and me every Sunday evening. When my brother came along, he of course was included in the fun.

My mom, whenever she has the joy of showing the nearly 1,000 photos taken to someone new, always says that my dad started taking these photos to preserve memories of us, due to the fact that I was born with a heart defect and wasn’t expected to live long. He took them every Sunday, around 6 p.m., to coincide with the time I was born. He would even record the date and hour, down to the minute, on the back of each photo.

My brother thinks that part is hilarious.

So while I’m feeling a little guilty for taking my mom at her word about gifts this Christmas season, I’m also feeling blessed when I look at this particular present and remember my dad. And I think I should take more photos

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