Saturday, May 15, 2010

Giving Mary the Camera

At our house, we have a box full of home movies that we haven't been able to watch.  In fact, they were missing for several years and were recently rediscovered, just in time to have them converted into DVD format.  Since we have so many, Tom decided to send in a few at a time, and did so, in no particular order. (They were the result of random and sometimes misleading labeling.)

We received some of the DVDs this week and spent some wonderful time reliving Thanksgivings, Christmases, Easters, birthdays, and awards ceremonies from 1992-1995.  The viewing was even more fun because so much time has lapsed; our granddaughter who was two years old in the earliest films has just finished her freshman year in college, my two youngest daughters (then 12 and 14) are now adults and the rest of us are, of course, 15 years older.

Tom and I laughed ourselves silly watching the movies.  At one point, I had to excuse myself for a bathroom break; I can only laugh for so long without developing a real emergency.

I learned something unexpected through watching the movies.  When we first bought the camera, Tom was the "official" recorder and I was the stand-by so that Tom could be in the movie.  His method of recording was to stop at each person at a gathering and say something like, "Well, Dad, tell us how you are and what's going on with you" at which point Dad or whomever he was camera-stalking would freeze, say something like "I'm fine" or wave Tom away.  Tom's true desire has been to record some good memories for all of us, but the response has often been "get that camera out of my face" (or something more subtle, depending upon the family member).  Despite the challenges, Tom did produce some really good sequences and provided comic relief in others, when he wasn't behind the camera.

The really good stuff happened when Tom allowed Mary access to the camera.  Mary, at age 12 (now the mother of three daughters of her own) shot her own views of holidays at our house.  Since she was 12, nobody paid much attention to where she was going or what she was shooting.  Her recording included her remarks to her sisters (not always polite), and their responses (also not always polite).  She recorded moments of affection between Tom and me (including one when I had a bad case of the giggles).  She followed two-year-old Whitney around and recorded her and Tom as they fed the birds, Whitney repeating everything her grandpa said.  She recorded all of us, just as we were.

There are moments in these videos that some might not appreciate.  For example, I would have preferred that my backside (bent over the dishwasher) not be featured in a couple of the kitchen shots.  Close-up food-chewing shots are not my favorite holiday memory.  But that's the price you pay for a 12-year-old camera girl.  The benefits, however, are immeasurable -- a true picture (not posed) of our holidays, warts and all, and the confirmation that those times were good and that we loved each other then as we do now.  Maybe we are more like the Conner family than the Cleavers (though I continue to "set the stage" as if we were the Cleavers).  Maybe that's why Roseanne, Dan, Becky, Darlene and DJ still make me laugh.

By the way, Mary is still carrying a camera around.  She's getting shots of her family that professionals dream about, and many of the bloggers I follow seem to have the same skill.  I think that most of it is accepting what she sees and appreciating it in the present -- instead of looking back later and seeing how good it really was.

If you have a 12-year-old in your family, you may want to assign him/her to camera duty at your next family gathering.  Then let go and have fun; it really will be out of your hands!

Annie Joy


bj said...

Wonderful post...and I have 3 12 year old granddaughters (along with 3 older and 1 younger)..they are all awesome with a camera. Even using their phones with cameras. :)

I haven't tried making chocolate gravy (for some reason, it never did sound very good to me. I love chocolate and I love gravy but...not together, I am thinking), Guess I'll google a recipe and check it out.
xo bj

Annie Joy said...

Thanks, BJ! It's funny, most of the moms (cooks) I know don't like chocolate gravy that much, but their families do. I think that it's one of those "handed down from grandma" traditions.

A Hint of Home said...

Oh, what fun it is to watch old movies and see how young the kids were and us, too! lol
I can just see you all watching and having a good time.


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