Saturday, April 09, 2011

There are Ghosts in my Bedroom

A few weeks ago I bought some VHS to DVD software when it was Amazon's Deal of the Day. Since then, I've been slowly going through my family's VHS tapes and transferring them. I've only finished Christmas 1986 and 1987 so far, and I'm getting started on Christmas 1997. Watching each video is strange. Of course I was expecting to see my relatives and pets who have been gone for years, but it's still a little odd when they first appear on camera. It's like watching a ghost materialize. I was surprised in Christmas 1997 when we cut from my family's living room to the living room at my paternal Grandfather's house. I thought he had already died by then, but this must have been his last Christmas with us. It's strange now to watch that scene and think about how there is now a different family living in that house.

This sort of nostalgia is to be expected, of course. You don't think about it at the time you're recording it, but the entire reason for videotaping these special occasions is so that you can look back on them later. You can revisit the past and see again those who have gone. In Christmas 1986 there is an extremely brief glimpse of my great uncle Elmer. It's quite possibly the only video we have of him at all. But the most important thing about Christmas 1986 is the fact that my Grandma Marge is there. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about the time that I was born, and the only clear memory I have of her from my childhood is going to visit her in the nursing home. She had no idea who I was. But in Christmas 1986, she's there, she knows who I am, and when she's playing with me you can see the type of Grandma she would have been. The Christmas 1986 video is the most important one for me, because that is how I choose to remember my Grandma Marge, even if the "memory" is really just a videotape. I would rather think of her as a Grandma who played ball with me and laughed at me when I spit on the living room carpet (long story) than as a sick woman in a hospital bed.

Ok, enough with the depressing stuff. Watching videos of yourself as a toddler is one of the most hilarious things you will ever watch. It's also interesting to watch yourself so young and see the moments where you can tell how you became the person you are now. 2 years old, and I refused to open any other presents because I had just opened a book and needed it to be read to me NOW. In my defense, it was a really cool book about the circus and those other presents could wait. That same year I had a really bad cold and my dad filmed my sleepyhead in my bedroom, where the humidifier is running full-blast. I point this out only because in 2011 I had just turned off the humidifier moments before hitting "play" on my VCR. Some things never change: I'm still a huge book nerd with bad sinuses. Watching Christmas 1997 isn't as fun because I'm 12 and I'm fully aware that I'm being filmed. My sister and I are playing to the camera, and it isn't as entertaining.

So, I don't know what you're doing with your weekend, but I'm spending mine with old friends, family, and pets, and enjoying every minute of it.

1 comment:

Abby-Wan Kenobi said...

This reminds me of when my mom tackled this project a few years ago. It ended up almost ruining Christmas 2008 because the tv had been running 80's home movies for like two weeks straight and my sister had noticed that while there were dozens of hours of me as a baby and toddler she fails to appear in a single video until she's four years old. She was pissed.

Of course there's very little film of me either in those years, but that hardly matters to her. Apparently having two kids to chase was a little overwhelming for my parents. Hilarious.