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Making memories, then and now - Jason Smith

I've been feeling really nostalgic in the last few days.

Part of this is because my wife is expecting a baby, and it's caused me to think back on my own childhood -- the good, the bad and the ugly of it all.

I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what went right in my younger days, and what went wrong, to prepare myself for being a father.

I've also been spending a lot of time this week, watching old home movies with my wife. We started out by watching videos of my family at Christmas, and during vacations and birthday parties.

As I watched my younger self on tape, I was reminded where the term "dork" came from. Regardless, watching those tapes brought back some wonderful memories, and gave me a deep longing for the past.

There was footage of my sister as a 5-year-old girl, reciting a passage from the Bible on Christmas Eve. I saw video of my brother playing sports with friends in the front yard of my old house, and me wearing embarrassingly thick swimming goggles in a pool at my aunt's and uncle's house.

I've seen those videos a thousand times, but with a baby on the way, it's as if I was watching those tapes through different eyes entirely.

My wife and I then shifted our attention to videos of her from when she was little, starting with the day she was born. I had never had an opportunity to see those tapes before, and I was fascinated as I watched them.

I saw her learning to walk, opening presents, and dipping Easter eggs into various colors of dye with her cousins. As the video played, my wife told me stories of traditions she had with her family in Missouri, before moving to Georgia as a small child.

Times have certainly changed since then. I don't get to see my sister as often as I'd like, and even though my brother and I attend the same church, we both have lives that keep us busy.

My wife lives 900 miles away from most of her family, and doesn't get to see them nearly as much as she would prefer.

Still, the videotaped memories of my family hold up as well as ever, and my wife still gets teary-eyed watching herself as a child.

As I thought about those home movies, I couldn't help thinking about the child my wife will soon bring into this world, and the memories we will capture on video with him or her.

I hope I am able to record my child learning to walk, reciting the Bible, and opening presents. I look forward to playing my own videos, so that when my son or daughter sees me as a 10-year-old, I can be reminded yet again how much of a dork I was.

I can't wait to show my child what their mother looked like as a baby.

I guess what I'm saying is, I get it now. I understand why it was so important to my parents, when I was growing up, to record videos and take pictures with me, my brother and my sister.

It wasn't just so we could let loose and act goofy on camera. It was so we could have memories to cherish with those we love, and to add to those memories with children of our own.

Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.