Bleeet . . . Memories

When I was a kid, my parents would periodically get us all together in the living room, pull out the slide projector, wrestle with the screen and give us a slide show.  My brothers and I got such a kick out of this, laughing at the pictures of when we were babies, our first communion, confirmation, May Processions, Christmas, summer vacations . . . pictures of all those pivotal moments in a family’s life.  The times spent together doing things.  When you think about it, that is what makes a family a family of friends.  Doing things together and having fun.  Otherwise, a family is just a bunch of genetically related strangers.

Back then, a slide show was state of the art.  My parents never got into the “super-8” movies (if you remember super-8 you are old), so the static pictures of us smiling, running, building sand castles or standing stiff-backed by the statue of the Virgin Mary was what we had.  Little did I know how important those slide shows were.  The repetition of those slides over time gave me continuity.  It allowed me to think of myself as a long living person.  I can’t say I remember my first birthday, but I remember the slide of my first birthday.  And the repeated looking at that slide gives me the memory of having that first birthday.  Through those slides, the memory of my youth and the time spent with my brothers and parents are reinforced.

Jump forward twenty or thirty years and slide shows are a thing of the past.  You couldn’t get a slide projector if you wanted to, and every catalog has a slide-to-digital converter box for sale.  But are we missing something here?  Maybe your home is different, but the opportunity to sit around and look at old movies/old pictures on the computer screen just doesn’t happen.  I think that has led to a bit of a disconnect for my kids.  They talk about not remembering their childhood so much (can you imagine that).  When I show them pictures of their “youth”, it brings such a smile to their faces and I get a . . . “I remember that!!!”.  Memories are memories because they are relived.  Left to their own, they get dusty and disappear.

So, my advice for the week:   Slow down, pull out some old pictures and have a few laughs with the kids.  It helps them to remember themselves.  It helps them remember happy family times.  It gives them perspective.  And it will do the same to you, too.

–Dan Hartman, MD

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