Have you ever been to a holiday gathering, and Uncle Bob is always pestering you to get in the picture. “Everybody scoot closer. Everybody say cheese. Now let’s get one with just you kids and Grandma.” And on and on. And you think, oh brother, this is such a pain. But someday, like me, you’ll be very thankful for the memories and for the history of your family.
For years, my garage has been filled with plastic storage bins filled with old reels of tapes and slides, useless to me. My dad loved taking pictures and even developed his own film. Then when he got a movie camera, he took everything from the dog walking across the yard to my dance recitals. But what to do with all these slides and old movies now that both parents are gone? I bit the bullet and took them to a professional familiographer, had 2 copies of the 5-12 hours of “viewing pleasure” copied onto 2 sets of 3 DVD’s, and presented them to my son and daughter on Thanksgiving Day. They were an early Christmas present, and I wanted them to be able to watch them together, helping each other recall who that was in the background holding the baby and which kid that was just learning to walk. Of course they didn’t have time to sit there and watch every minute, but it was a thrill for me to hear their smiles as they saw their grandpa standing in front of his new car in 1959. Here was our family history on film that we didn’t even know we had.
It was a bit of a challenge getting this done. I started by asking friends to go through the slides, of which there were hundreds. “hold them up to the light,” I would say, “and if you don’t see a person in the picture, then throw it away.” For the most part, that plan worked, but one picture, which did not have a person in it was saved anyway, and I was so glad. It was a picture of the little house my grandmother lived in, complete with the outhouse, which has long since been torn down and replaced by landscaping and a pond. My kids actually remember that little old house, so it was truly a trip down memory lane. I’m sure no one at the time considered these pictures would be cherished 50 years later, but there we were, drawn a little closer by old and new technology combined. There was a picture of my forty-year-old mother driving the boat that my dad was so proud of and many pictures of the Dalmatians that I adored as a child. My granddaughters could see that once upon a time, I too was a pretty young girl in a long tutu, getting ready for a recital.
I must admit that because of the expense involved, I worried that I would be the only one who thought it was worth it, but my kids did not disappoint me. They truly do appreciate having our family history in a modern day format. I am so grateful for all those times my dad trotted out his camera. It was fun for him, a hobby. But for us, it’s a treasure.