DAVE: Super 8mm Gift

It’s a wonderful life—not the Christmas film with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, but our own Miller family classic. This season I had all our Super 8mm videos converted to DVD as a surprise for Sandy. So we’ve been reliving our wonderful life on our big screen TV.

Little girl toonWe watched the kids go sledding for the first time, me dropping that huge oak tree in our front yard with my chainsaw skills, and Jessie, our little Kolache Princess, doing the Chicken Dance. Plus, a hundred other things we haven’t thought of in years. The videos captured conversations we’ve forgotten, relatives we rarely think of and possessions that seemed so important that are long gone. a

These movies were transferred directly from the tapes with no editing. Sometimes the footage moves along kind of slow—maybe even a little boring. But there’s something mesmerizing about these extended videos—I feel transported to that time, opening up memories I haven’t tapped for years, like visiting an old familiar place.

The not-so-great thing about video (besides documenting some very questionable fashion choices) is that it captures events without the soft lens of perception. Not long into the first DVD I found myself thinking—dang, did I really say that to the kids? I wish I could go back and re-do some of the things I said or did in those tapes. I could have been more patient. I can see how I’ve grown as a parent and as a person. But concerns like those quickly fade as I watch that “younger Dave” take on little Jessie and Juston in a classic bedtime tickle fight. Even when presented with some awkward video moments, I focus on the good times. Isn’t that the human condition?

My takeaway from 28 hours of family movie binge watching? It’s time to get the video camera rolling again. If I’m not documenting with a video camera, all our memories will be the length of short burst cell phone videos. And that would be a shame because it truly is a wonderful life.

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