We live in a time of progress and technological advancement. Our lives are a whirlwind of events and activity where many of us attempt to hold on to tradition and family values while the world around us seems to be constantly focused on the next best thing. Cell phones and computers have become staples in our daily lives, but we can barely keep up with the newest version of any particular “gadget”. Retailers push products for summer while we’re still coping with winter weather. There seems to be a constant push to look ahead at the next holiday rather than enjoying the one at hand. Our days are filled with work, school, and extracurricular events and our evenings are consumed with mealtimes, errands, and our favorite TV shows. In such busy times, it is easy to lose sight of the little things (which are not really all that little). There are blurbs all over social media sites urging us to forget the past and focus on the future. While it can be healthy to free ourselves of past mistakes and focus on goals, there is something quite valuable in our history. Finding balance seems to be a common thread in all our lives and it is important to remember that we are a culmination of the moments we have experienced, the memories we cherish, the family we came from, and the purpose we are trying to find. Amongst the hustle and bustle we snap pictures and video with our phones and cameras in an attempt to grasp the fleeting moments and preserve them. Those precious parts of our lives fill up the memory on our phones and sit patiently in our camera bags; waiting to be viewed and shared. With Spring on the horizon, the time to “stop and smell the roses” is upon us. I encourage you to dig out your camera bag, find the USB cord to your phone, dust off those old tapes and reels of film, and replace an episode of your favorite show with some sunshine and joy. Need more encouragement? Here are some good reasons…..
Children Benefit From Their Heritage
Children in the world today experience things much differently than their parents and grandparents did in their youth. Social media and “celebrity-ism” is a strong influence in their lives. The increase in divorce and the need for double income households creates different challenges and life experience. Technology; while positive in many ways, also exposes our kids to dangers and potentially a false sense of what and who they should be striving to become. According to a recent article published by the “New York Times”(“The Stories That Bind Us” Bruce Feiler), children “..who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges,”. The article explains a study that was done by a group of psychologists who found that children who are familiar with their family history tend to be more resilient, better at coping with stress, better communicators, and have a stronger sense of self. Viewing photographs and videos of past generations helps children to understand that they are connected to a larger group. Learning of hardships and accomplishments experienced by this group of people helps them accept the challenges they face and have confidence in their own success. Sharing home movies and pictures with children encourages communication about family members that might not take place otherwise and enables kids to visualize the information they receive. Sharing pictures and video of “Grandpa John” in his WWII uniform while relaying the details of how he volunteered to serve in the Army Air Corps at 17 years old and his accomplishments and struggles during that time gives children a connection to someone they might not otherwise have.
Remembering Those We Have lost
Everyone will experience the loss of loved ones at some point in their lives. Just as it is important to remember our past, it is also important to keep those we love in our present. According to the American Psychological Association, remembering loved ones in our daily lives is an important part of the grief process. Accepting loss is difficult, but it helps us to talk about those we love and share our memories of them. Keeping their memory alive benefits us as well as future generations. While it is important for our children to learn about relatives and other loved ones who are no longer living, it is also important for us to actively remember the people we cherish. Many families name their children after family members from past generations; often times even if they didn’t know them personally. Experiencing how special a person was through stories, home movies, and photographs builds a connection and encourages tradition. Sharing these memories can replace some of the feelings of loss by celebrating those people and the lives they lived. Communicating their importance with others and re-incorporating their beliefs, qualities, abilities, and talents into the lives of our children can be an irreplaceable gift.
Acknowledge Your Accomplishments
Although our lives are filled with joys, milestones, and things we are grateful for, viewing home movies and photographs can truly put that into perspective. In our efforts to progress, we often lose sight of that which we have already accomplished. We sometimes avoid things that remind us of the past if there is a memory attached that is not so cherished; maybe a past relationship that went wrong or a particular time in life that was difficult. However, even the worst memories can help us grow and remind us of how far we have come. Watching videos of graduations, dance recitals, and football games are all good reminders of our successes. An unhappy moment in the past most likely includes cherished memories as well, such as the birth of a child, an unforgettable vacation, or a life choice that proved to be positive.
Count your Blessings
There is nothing like a home movie or video scrapbook to remind us of all that we have to be thankful for. The question has been asked many times, “If your house was on fire and you could only grab 3 belongings, what would they be?” Pictures and videos are often on the top of that list. We all know that most “things” can be replaced, but memories are irreplaceable. The birthday cake covered faces of our toddlers, the look on our child’s face the first time they see an elephant at the zoo, or the prideful cheers when they peddle their bike for the first time are invaluable and heart warming. Their first wobbly step, their first prom, and their first day of kindergarten are only a few on the list of milestones that we cherish. Wedding days, baby showers, record snow storms, and rainbows in the Spring remind us of the magic that life has to offer. An auditorium filled with students decorated in caps and gowns, 50th wedding anniversary parties, and the homecomings of service men and women are precious memories sure to promote gratitude and happiness. What better way could you spend a snow day…or even a Wednesday night?
Would you park your convertible in the rain with the top down? Or plant a tree in August and not give it water? You’ve snapped the pictures and carefully focused your video camera in on the special moments in your life. You’ve collected the memories and tucked them away. You’ve talked about pulling them out and worried about their condition. Film fades and photographs and video tape deteriorate. Technology changes along with the equipment necessary to watch your collections of holidays, birthdays, and family gatherings. What better time than right now to preserve those memories for future generations and prepare them for family movie night? So brush off the dust, collect the memory cards, transfer the files from your phones, and enjoy!