Creating the Family History of the Future

Years ago we began a tradition in our family. Between Christmas and New Year I gather all the images and videos from each of the devices in the house and produce a family video that all gather to watch as part of our New Year’s Eve activities. It was never intended to be part of the family record but as we look back at these productions they have become an obvious source of remembering things and a happy accident of family history.

I just completed this year’s video and it tallies more than 50-minutes. I won’t burden you with the whole thing but will share this portion of the video that celebrates the birth of a new grandson and the impact these boys have been on my family this past year:

We customarily start these videos with a brief pictorial overview of the world — we will grab images from news sources and create a backdrop of what was going on in the world while we went through the events of our year. I think this is important for putting some things in context down the road. Then we get into the major events and activities of the year. It might include travel and vacations but many years, like this past year, we can’t do those kinds of things because of other events.

It doesn’t matter what happens.

What matters is that we tell the big stories. This year the stories were of losing my mother, celebrating the graduation of a daughter from high school, welcoming a new grandson and making a move — a huge year and a big story to tell. While I do “narrate” at parts this video is more about my children and their part in it all and I try to use as much of “their stuff” as I can.

My kids are all Millennials — they have grown up with the Internet and screens and devices and they are fluent in the savvy uses of video and images. They take thousands of images. Our videos are primarily their pictures and in the case of this video above I’m particularly proud of their technical work because the very best pictures of my grandsons have been taken by my children, not by me.

It’s now been 8 years since we began this tradition and our videos have become better over time. They aren’t intended for a general audience because frequently they include references to family culture or even inside jokes that would just take too long to understand. And, to be honest, we have pictures that include Christmas morning hair and every day chaos that my wife and children would rather not the world at large see. Later generations of family seeing this stuff after we’re gone is ok, I suppose.

But none of this is lost on me. These slideshows are part of the family history we will pass down. It is a tradition in keeping family records that many would enjoy if they would invest the time. It takes me the better part of a day to produce these videos. I consider it now sacred time.

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