Early this week, on a quiet morning to myself in which I should have been doing some chores, instead I re-watched our family home movies, converted five years ago from badly deteriorated 8mm to DVD. Most of the films were from the late 1960's, back when my parents lived in California and before they had children and were only responsible for a beloved, silky-haired black dog named Tikki. Most were of family Christmases in Oregon and California and road trips to the Southwest and down into Mexico with my maternal grandparents and various aunts, uncles, and older cousins. My then-young father didn't understand the cinematic importance of the slow pan, so the scenic vacation shots are rather dizzying. (He also just happened to take plenty of shots of my mom's rear end. Ah, young love.)
So many of the coupled relatives in the films have since split and remarried into new configurations, at least once if not twice, or are now dead—or both. Yet it's breathtaking to see dead family members reanimated in remembered postures and gestures, these clips from past moments. I miss them. Life takes so much away in this circle in which we're spun. Daily life can be hard—enduring less-than-ideal jobs and struggles with money, health, and relationships. So such rituals are important, even if your family, like mine, is half crazy: gathering together, remembering, forming new memories—layering meaning—for it shouldn't all be mere endurance, or what's the point?
Despite the needed alone-time afterwards to regroup and reflect (equally important for an introvert like myself), there's nothing social I enjoy more than cooking with and for friends and family, conversing, sharing, laughing, and playing—though, admittedly, for me such occasions are too infrequent because of busy schedules and physical distances. But all the secondhand goods I collect year-round to build a comfortable nest only serve this central purpose: warming and nourishing myself and loved ones, making life a little brighter and sweeter.