|Posted on August 29, 2014 at 12:30 AM|
Twelve years ago, I arrived in my new Southeastern Connecticut neighborhood toting thirty extra pounds of my soon-to-be baby girl and my rambunctious toddler son. We had no idea where the nearest playground, children's museum and zoo were in town.
Along came a lovely mother of two, at the library storytime. She welcomed us enthusiastically to her home for a pool date. Neither of our sons was a good swimmer but they did fine with their swimmer training vests. As we parted that lovely afternoon, she extended yet another lovely invitation; this time, back to her home in the evening for a photo scrapbooking workshop. How lovely, I thought, she was a warm and generous person. I loved taking photos of my family. Maybe I should take up scrapbooking as a hobby.
After so many inspiring examples among our group that evening, I was convinced that, I too, could conquer my growing collection of family photos. My husband and I had acquired a digital camera a few months prior and imagined beautiful baby books and scrapbooks for our family.
Twelve years later, the three twelve-inch by twelve-inch albums I purchased that evening remained shrink wrapped and empty, filed neatly among thousands of boxed but organized photo prints, on a shelf in my home. All the photo cropping tools I also purchased at the time were mildly used over the years, for photo projects I did manage to complete for others. The funny thing is that I never regretted those purchases because I stand here today and face the truth. I was a reluctant scrapbooker.
My fingers never had the patience to print hundreds of digital photos I shot for each milestone event and everyday moment. I never could find the time to shop for pretty, textured background paper or fun themed stickers. It was all too much for me to incorporate into a life too preoccupied with playdates, community volunteer work and going back to work. Instead, my fingers found joy in making long to do lists and delighted in checking off completed tasks, which for some reason excluded dealing with the pictures. They enjoyed flying across a computer keyboard, typing status reports, entering newsletter articles and drafting stories for my writers group. I never minded any work that required the use of a computer. Maybe hearing the constant clicking and feeling the speed of my productivity at my fingertips was the incentive.
Lo and behold, I came across digital scrapbooking and video production software. I finally found my preferred mode of memory-keeping. At times, while leafing through my friends' gorgeous hand-made albums I kicked myself for not making time for such a worthwhile endeavor. Was I a lazy scrapbooker, a no-good wanna-be photo hoarder? Afterall, I was a happy snapper bent on capturing every important and poignant moment. My photos were organized in file folders by date on my computer. If I ever needed a photo I could find it easily. But clearly it was no way to share them.
Today I embrace my need to do most things digitally. One by one, my family's home videos which were previously recorded on VHS, VHSC and miniDV tapes have been transferred to DVDs. I was prompted to seriously consider the fate of these memories when my husbanded and I decided to share one of the tapes with our children one day when our VCR failed to awaken from its deep slumber. It joined the mortal heap of cell phones and previous generation iPods stacked in a box in our garage.
My family members have identified some important generational stories which we need to share with my children. Through a mix of digital photos and live interviews, we have fun weaving them together into casual personal documentaries. Today's generation loves watching YouTube videos. We also enjoyed sitting together on a counch as kids, watching television with our parents. Why not bridge the gap and start sharing family memories in this manner? By adapting beloved images using today's digital media and putting them back into circulation, we start a conversation about who we are and where we came from. We may not be working with scissors and glue anymore, but we are certainly looking back and appreciating the journeys.