This Christmas,Dad is preparing a treat for his grandchildren. He’s going to let them watch while he subjects their parents, aunts and uncles to a couple of hours of mortification.
He’s going to show the old home videos.
This is not just the odd clip of Mom holding up her homemade pumpkin pie and suddenly noticing the fingermarks in it. This is a feature production. Ever since Dad got his Senior Citizen discount card, he’s been hanging around museums and learning that any movie, once it gets old enough, becomes a film, and after that, it’s Art.
For several years, a video was made every holiday season and viewed, with great hooting, the following year. Then everyone converted to DVD players and eventually no one had a machine that would play the tapes.
So this year Dad went to a video specialty store to convert the tapes to DVD. He spent several hours there lovingly overseeing the conversion, inserting musical interludes and ordering the inclusion of special effects – such as a shot of wrapping paper, in a pattern of fat ducks in snowsuits, being sensuously torn in half to reveal “1977” written on cardboard. The resulting production is a marathon holiday epic titled “Jingle Bells Ring My Chimes.”
This production captures such immortal moments as:
Marie, age 6, and Joe, age 9, hugging each other in front of the tree while he begins to lower a rubber spider down the back of her pajamas.
Mom smiling over the electric meat grinder Dad bought her. The camera does not show that the next day she exchanged the meat grinder for a silk scarf – and to make doubly sure Dad got the point, she took back the gold cufflinks she had bought him and replaced them with a pipe wrench.
Cousin Ricky demonstrating his new Slinky, while Uncle Frank looks on proudly.
Later that same day, Uncle Frank guiding Cousin Ricky’s Slinky down a flight of stairs, while Ricky cries in vain trying to get his toy back.
Uncle Frank, in the kitchen, dipping a teacup into a pot, extracting a red liquid and toasting the camera. The liquid, Uncle Frank’s favorite recipe, is burgundy boiled with raisins, with a generous quantity of vodka added at the last minute. He insists this is the national drink of Lapland and makes a gallon of it every year. Nobody drinks it except Uncle Frank himself and whichever of the children are old enough to sneak away with a glass but too young to appreciate Scotch.
Marie at 15 with her first boyfriend, Ernie. Ernie wears a polyester leisure suit. Marie wears acne. They are sitting on the couch about a millimeter apart, avoiding body contact intently as if a touch would complete an electric circuit and set off the fire alarm.
Mom triumphantly carrying the turkey on the big silver platter out through the swinging kitchen door into the dining room. This same moment is recorded in 1974, 1978 and 1979, with Mom’s glasses getting bigger and rounder every year. The 1979 scene shows Cousin Lucy, age 2, toddling adorably across Mom’s pathway, Mom tripping, and the turkey sliding to the floor.
Joe, 17, with his girlfriend Angela. Dad surprised them necking in the hallway, but the lighting is very poor, and nobody can tell whether they were only doing what Joe told Dad they were doing or whether they were doing what Joe told his friends they did.
The grandchildren are pretty excited about seeing the show, so they can howl over their parents looking like teenage dorks.
But Joe and Marie have planned their revenge. At last year’s gathering Marie took roughly 1,450 digital photos. She has them set up as a slide show. After the movie, she’s going to make Dad sit through every single one.
Triple Spaced Again, © New Mexico News Services 2013