magic time capsule

Have you ever considered what the absolute coolest thing would be to receive in the mail? I mean, I’m pretty excited with anything that isn’t a bill or junk mail, and wedding invitations are nice, but I had no idea what I was in store for yesterday when a nondescript envelope arrived from my aunt.

She sent me two CDs, with no explanation, labeled with the name of our family. I figured they were discs of old photos, and told myself I’d look through them over the weekend. But tonight, something prompted me to throw them into the computer, and the surprise was unbelievable.

My crafty aunt took tons of old video footage of she and my dad as babies and children — that I had no idea even existed — and converted it into DVDs. There are hours of footage, ranging from my dad as a newborn to him as a teenager, and I can’t quite explain how surreal this is. I was given a literal time capsule…it’s like my own magic DeLorean.

I’ve been sitting here all evening, fixated on grainy footage of my family in the 1940s through the 1960s. I’ve watched my grandparents as a joyful young couple, just after WWII ended. I saw my dad learning to walk and taking early rides on a tricycle. I saw my great grandparents, and so many family birthdays, graduations and vacations.

It is somewhat insane that I can sit and watch my dad and aunt, grandparents, and great grandparents celebrating around the same dining room table in the same house I spent countless days in as a child.

There’s one scene of my grandmother sitting with a gaggle of girlfriends in lounge chairs at the pool, goofing off, likely in their late twenties. This might as well be me and my friends, albeit 60 some-odd years later. And the footage of my dad and his dad (my grandfather) goofing off and manning the grill together is eerily similar to watching my brother interact with my dad now.

The whole thing makes me realize how short life is, how sweet life is, and that while everything changes, it actually all kind of stays the same.

This was such an unexpected and special experience. I now feel compelled to start taking way more family videos, and doing a better job of documenting family events.

This experience also made me realize that we often form identities around people based on when we meet them — it’s kind of silly. Logically, we know that they had lives before they entered ours, but it’s hard to really envision them in previous worlds. Fortunately, videos help.

Thank you Aunt Patti!

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