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This last Christmas, my mom gave my brothers, sister and me
one of the best gifts I’ve EVER received. It was so good, it even knocked out the former “best gift ever”
incumbent—the Kitty Condo which housed my “outside” cat
family (3 of us had horrific cat-allergies so they couldn’t be inside). The Kitty Condo was two-levels, carpeted, insulated and heated. It also had a roof you could lift back, like
a lid, to check on those little rascals. I was always slightly worried that I was invading their privacy. As much as I liked looking in on
that little, feline Ingalls family, I was convinced that one day I would catch
them doing something indecent like running an illegal cockfighting
ring, cooking crystal meth, or having a swingers party with the neighbor
tabbies. I’m pretty sure none of those
things ever happened, though.
Yes, as cool as that pet palace was, this year’s gift
crushed. My mom had gone a very
sentimental route and thoughtfully gave my siblings and me 15 DVDs of our old home video footage, which she had toiled over for hours and days to convert
from VHS, and then beautifully edit. These
home videos covered over 17 years of our lives; from toddler days through high
school graduation. She’d given us hours
and hours of documented memories from birthday parties, to family vacations, to
high school assemblies, to lazy afternoons in the backyard.
As we all sat down together and watched these videos, I
realized just how amazing this gift was. Sure, most of the footage gave us a good laugh (and by “most of the
footage” I mean my bangs; my bangs gave
us a good laugh), and of course some of the footage had us in tears. And the videos also renewed my appreciation
of my siblings and the way we all got along so well. But more than anything, watching just a
fraction of the videos my mom had given to us had me in total awe of my
parents. Now that my siblings and I are
parents, watching the clips, we were clearly able to recognize just how good
our parents were at raising us.
And man, were they good.
They made sure we had these videos, so we could remember what our childhood was like. But they also documented their love and commitment to our family.
They made a big deal of our birthdays. They worked tirelessly to help us memorize
lines to school plays and practice dance routines until we had it all down
pat. They let us ride dirt bikes. They took us fishing and camping. They swam with us. Rode bikes with us. They let my sister and me dress my younger
brother up like the white swan from Swan Lake. They made sure we were close to our grandparents and that we saw our
cousins frequently. They laid in the
grass and watched the clouds with us. They
made us laugh, constantly. They didn’t
often lose their cool. And there were
FOUR of us, each only two years apart! And
it is ALL ON VIDEO.
I’ve always felt love and support from my parents. But watching these home videos made me beam
with appreciation for my mom and dad. They
made sure we had these videos, so we could remember what our childhood was
like. But they also documented their
love and commitment to our family. They
put their family—their children—first. It is evident in the video and in our lives
Needless to say, I am very big on videoing my children. Of course, the urge to do so is ingrained in
me. My husband isn’t so naturally inclined
to do so. I used to badger him to take
photos and film, and he’d mildly protest it. But after watching the videos my mom had given us, he’s changed his
My husband was not only impressed
by my hairstyles and fashion sense through the years, but he was inspired by my
parents’ dedication to their family, and that they made it possible for him to
get a glimpse into the way we were raised. And, it’s so much easier now with the technology of the iPhone and other
smart phone devices. We can easily record video, edit and store precious videos of our
children and families. And, if my
parents could steady that old-school missile launcher of a camera on their
shoulder to get footage, he figures it’s not asking him much to hold up his
phone and push the red dot on the screen.
My husband always says, “Just enjoy the moment and remember
it in your heart.” And I get that. It’s good to be present and to soak up the
moment while it’s happening. But, to
have your children, their developing personalities, their moments with us on
video that they can watch and show their children when we’re gone, to have the
love in our family captured, our love for our children captured, our laughter
memorialized, is priceless. My children
will watch the videos I have recorded for them one day. I’m not sure how they will react to the weird
things I did with them, the songs we sang together or my sick dance moves. But I hope more than anything that they will
see what I did when I watched the videos I was given—just how much their
parents love them.