Daddy’s Take: Christmas and the Camera

Christmas morning is a magical experience for children but often overlooked or at least relegated to simple internal personalized feelings, so we don’t overshadow the children’s joy. The truth is that the joy and happiness we see in our children is a magical experience for us as parents. I have two wonderful children a beautiful 10-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. My children bounded down the hallway to our bedroom around 5:30 in the morning their eyes gleaming with the excitement their body language exudes.

My wife and I quickly got ready in what probably felt like hours for those two anxiously waiting children. I went into the living room and plugged in the Christmas tree lights and readied my camera. I like my father before wanted to capture their reactions as the paper Santa meticulously wrapped gave way to their little hands revealing the contents of their desire.

This ritual of Christmas morning caused me to reflect back to the experience of Christmas during my childhood, and the two seems familiar, nearly identical. Though I would like to believe that my brother and I left, my parents sleep until at least 9:00. I recalled my dad manning a camcorder the size of a briefcase loaded with a VHS cassette. He too was making an effort to capture those moments when my brother and I became elated with Christmas excitement. Like me and I’m sure parents everywhere can relate the excitement was also a vindication that we know our children and got it right.

The immediate problem is that probability wise I would put money that the VHS tapes from dad’s camcorder are as lost to history as Mary Todd Lincolns cookbook. The secondary issue would be finding a method of playback as DVD’s, and Blu-ray is giving way to digital libraries that stream the movies without us needing to own anything physically. At 31 it’s a wonder I even remember VHS cassettes. However, difficult overcoming these first two obstacles might be the real issue I was having with this reflection into the past was the ritual itself.

This issue is something I often wrestle with as an amateur photographer as well. At what point are we experiencing life through the viewfinder and omitting the real experiences? I still recall opening matching coats and shoes Christmas morning in the Florida room at my Grandparents summer home in Bradenton. My parents looked on from the white wicker furniture that Floridians love. The memory, the moment lives on in my mind even though the VHS tapes are long gone.

As I snapped pictures and videos of Christmas morning, I wondered what I was missing by doing so. I took a few pictures this Christmas but then I put the camera down to just enjoy the moment and take it all in as a memory. It was nice just experiencing the moment to know that while there will more than likely (mortality aside) be future moments such as this that I was experiencing what was unique about all moments. The moments we spend with one another are as unique as fingerprints. While our lives do have routines the moments we share the words, emotions, feelings, and expressions are truly once in a lifetime.

I’m sure somewhere in the bowels of the internet there exists a study that would reveal the rate of increase in photographs taken from film to digital to the now high-resolution phones with cameras. Being able to capture places, moments, and expressions all the time and anywhere is amazing. I sat there soaking in the Christmas magic, and I knew exactly what drove my dad to the camcorder and me to the camera phone. These moments are what bond us together in love and friendship. Naturally with the technology or rather the power to capture it and put it in our pocket or instantly share it with all our friends and family is overwhelming. We can preserve it and now hold onto it for as long as we can manage to safeguard our data. Or someone doesn’t figure out how to bring down the cloud.

I knew after my Christmas morning exactly what my new year’s resolution would be. I was going to find a balance between my camera and my life. I will choose to capture some moments but just enjoy living the others.

Darrell D Lingle

The Write Connection LLC