Have you refreshed your refrigerator lately? Me neither.
I don’t mean tossing outdated stuff, like that barbecue sauce with an expiration date of 1991, or the jar of strawberry jam with only one lonely dried-up fragment of fruit clinging to the bottom. Or cautiously lifting the lids of small plastic containers in case the new life forms that have colonized the leftovers inside might be hostile.
No, I’m talking about updating the outside of the fridge. Standing in the kitchen this morning waiting for the coffee to brew, my unfocused gaze rested idly on the pictures covering the top half of our refrigerator. Even in my precaffeinated state, I realized something. Those pictures are embarrassingly out of date.
Here’s part of what is frozen in time on the front of our fridge: A young father and his toddler son, open mouths aiming for the same bite of ice cream. A newborn snuggled into his mother’s arms. A six-month-old, dressed up in an oversized cowboy hat for an old-time photo, with a grin that makes him the happiest little desperado you’ve ever seen. A smiling family group, with two cute middle-school boys, two little girls with missing front teeth, and a toddler.
The ice cream-eating dad now has to compete for his chocolate-peanut butter swirl with three kids instead of one. The newborn has become a big brother who knows all his colors, can count to 20 with only a slight vagueness in the teens, and is much too busy for snuggling. The miniature desperado is now an amazing athlete who plays baseball with the focus of a future pro and does things on a skateboard that make my knees cringe just to watch. The family group has increased by two, one of whom is already in kindergarten. The little girls are now lovely young women with all their front teeth, and the two oldest boys loom over the rest of us and have astonishing deep voices.
It isn’t just the photos that are out of date, either. There’s a yellowed newspaper clipping that has decorated this fridge for close to two decades. One of the magnets is from a workplace I left in 1989. Another is from a plumber who has long since retired and ridden his Harley off into the sunset. There are two battered ones—not worth keeping for neither sentimental nor ornamental value—that I believe to be older than any of my children. A red and yellow magnet—definitely a keeper—was made by a sixth-grader who is now the mother of the two deep-voiced boys.
Yep; it’s definitely time for an update. Maybe, when I finish refreshing the outside of the fridge, I’ll even get around to checking the expiration dates on all those bottles of salad dressing and barbecue sauce.
Or maybe not. After all, those are safely hidden inside the door. It’s the outdated outside of the fridge that’s so embarrassing.