Family Events Revisited Through Home Movies

Home movies

By Sandra Dempsey Post  

Quite possibly I haven’t felt this incapable of finding something interesting to do for a reasonable amount of time since I was a child. My only sibling and I are 8.5 years apart in age so I was often left to my own devices when it came to entertaining myself. Not exactly a problem, but it’s obvious I haven’t refreshed my skills in a very long time. I remember playing Parcheesi by myself, and I would assume the roles of all four possible players. I never cheated as my parents and my sister drilled me that cheating was never permissible. The fact that I was playing alone and no one but me would know if I was less than honest never occurred to me. I had a firm, if not sometimes overzealous sense of justice, and following rules.

I also played school alone, and was an excellent teacher, I think, although who would complain. Only our much-loved dog and only if I neglected to include her in treats. She always seemed quite content and eager to be within the confines of my classroom particularly when it was close to snack time. While I have always enjoyed the company of others and still do, growing up minus multiple siblings was not unpleasant. You don’t miss what you never had so I didn’t know any better and didn’t depend on others to entertain me. Although I very much enjoyed visiting other kids or having them come to my house, I learned to create my own entertainment, realizing later that was useful and therapeutic. When my three children, who are very close in age, were growing up, I would watch them play among themselves or with friends and think how I would have enjoyed such company. Sometimes what we want doesn’t happen until later in life.

My ability to find interesting entertainment on my own seems to have diminished. I realized that last month when the snow continued to cover the earth—even in unexpected parts of the country—the wind-chill was out of control, and by 10am I felt like it must surely be time for bed as it seemed I had been up for days. I longed to be a little kid again and tell my mom I needed something fun to do. She was creative at suggesting recreational endeavors, and I learned not to be too fussy, or she’d suggest projects greatly resembling work. I rarely was that desperate.

Whatever we call it—COVID, the global pandemic, and perhaps a few descriptive adjectives not appropriate for print—it has presented a tremendous challenge to most of us. Granted our individual circumstances vary, and I don’t mean to make light of anyone’s, but 12 months is a long time and I feel like I need help securing entertainment or at least meaningful ways of getting through each day.

Yes, I’ve checked out library books; gathered receipts and records for tax preparation; cleaned out closets; had delightful phone conversations with friends; watched movies; “found” a couple of misplaced items; and went to bed earlier than many preschoolers. Bottom line, I miss my family and friends, getting together for dinner, playing Pinochle and Bunco, going shopping, special events at the Civic Center, OLLI classes, fundraisers, going to the movies. The word movie suddenly triggers unexpected enthusiasm on my part. Movies as in family movies from almost 48 years ago. 

Christmas of 1973 I bought my husband a movie camera as our first child was due the end of February and I knew we both wanted to have a permanent way to record all the sweetness of this baby. After our son’s birth in March, the pediatrician told me of his meeting “Cecil B DeMille,” aka my husband who was filming our son’s photography debut. Camera equipment back then was large and sometimes cumbersome, making the photographer look very official. The camera and accessories were worth whatever they cost as we continue to enjoy seeing our lives on screen. The early home movies have no sound, and our grandchildren think that’s weird, but we’re grateful we can recapture the wonderful memories.

Feeling even older than my years, I am amazed by technology that invites us to see others and ourselves in various circumstances, ages, and sizes throughout our lives. To hear the voices of loved ones who have been deceased for decades is heartwarming to me. It’s an opportunity to be entertained and to reminisce, wondering why we didn’t appreciate the look and charm of our youth while we were young. We can forget the challenges of COVID and simply recapture the vacations we took; various wardrobe trends; our family pets; the fun of comparing how we look now with how our parents looked back when they were our current age; and experience that intense feeling of wanting so badly to be able to hold our babies and toddlers again. Seeing houses we used to live in and former neighbors and all the milestone events that families celebrate together is remarkable.

Yes, we’re still struggling with COVID and vaccines and masks, and cold weather and a certain amount of boredom, but my energy is rejuvenated by the pleasure of sweet memories. And just like we made it through previous challenges, we’ll do it again, and someday another generation will marvel at our resourcefulness. 

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