We are all filled with little memories of our childhood that somehow pop into our heads for whatever reason, but how much do we really remember? And if you do, how accurate are your memories? I can’t remember last week, much less what happened twenty-something years ago - but, in reality, we really don’t remember things exactly as they happened anyway, just how we imagined they did. It’s one of those scientific factoids.
This last Christmas, my dad and brother took all of our old VHS home movies and converted them to DVDs as a gift. I have to say it's been the best gift I’ve received - ever. The videos date back the late 80's when I was sixteen and have brought back moments that occasionally flow through my middle-aged brain. What’s remarkable is watching so many events I don’t even recall having the opportunity to remember. There are a lot of “I was there?” questions as I scrutinize each video.
There are about twenty DVDs in all that have captured not only the mundane moments, but the hilarity of many events that are only made funnier by tight acid-wash jeans and pointy shoulder pads. And what’s really amazing, if you can believe, is that the Husband wants to sit down and watch every single video with me. Yes, my Husband wants to watch home movies from my childhood. This alone could qualify him for sainthood, but sadly all the other things he does to get on my nerves nullifies it.
We did begin dating in 1989, a few years after the timeline of the videos and he’s actually in a few of them, but that’s not why he watches. He, like me, is fascinated with how much has changed over the years with family, clothing, cars, our voices, and most importantly, getting another chance to see those who have since passed away. However, my kids can't find me behind the oversized, plastic eyeglasses that are fashionably partnered with the silver braces on my teeth that I once wore. They have refused to watch more than a minute and seemingly don't want to acknowledge that I ever had a life before them. Ironically enough, I had forgotten that I did have said life and most grateful for the reminder.
The Husband has also made a valid point that because these home movies are decades old (mind you only two-ish), rather than just last week or last year, it intensifies the desire to watch each moment with fervent fascination. It’s hard to be nostalgic about your kid’s last birthday party video if you still have that red balloon string stuck in the ceiling fan, right? The very definition of nostalgia is a wistful yearning of some past period. In other words, how can you recognize the novelty of a special moment captured on film if it simply looks like yesterday?
With that in mind, I realized that I haven’t been videotaping any of the mundane or exceptionally special moments that my kids could appreciate twenty years from now. I have no excuse when you consider how easy it is to make videos now compared to when I was young. Here is the inexcusable truth when it comes to the ease of filming these days.
Even my current video camera is outdated with its 3" mini-discs compared to the a tiny memory card held by cameras these days. And, like most parents with multiple children born just before digital cameras were cool, I have tons of video tapes and photos boxed away for my first and just a few less for my second. When it comes to my third child, born in 2004, I have to pull out the computer as she came along right before I switched to a digital camera. All her video moments as a baby are essentially broken down into 1-3 minute snippets I "filmed" and stored on a computer’s hard drive, along with her photos.
This is not the same as twenty minutes of listening to stories told by grandma, hearing laughter from jokes being told by Cousin Jack or watching the joy in my parent's eyes when my brother walked for the first time. Those little snippets I took may still be special, but capturing the essence of the moment by extending the film time to include the atmosphere of the moment would make it immensely better.
I'm aiming to do a better job as the family historian having just recently finished watching the last of the DVDs my dad sent. Yet admittedly, I still fail to even use my fancy-schmancy 1080dp video slash 12.1MP photo camera that weighs virtually nothing. I may carry it everywhere with me, but I simply grab my iPhone so I can immediately bombard my family and friends with instant photos and video via email or the social media of choice. Does this mean all I have to do is tell my children to snuggle up to their computer and check out my Facebook page when they grow up?
Not if I can help it.
My photo adventures in Florida