“Sunrise, sunset—swiftly fly the years.” -Song from Fiddler on the Roof
A few days after my youngest daughter, Alyssa, and her boyfriend, Chris, returned to Colorado after living in Los Angeles for 2.5 years, my wife, Ruth, and I invited our three adult children and their partners for a reunion dinner. Following a spirited dinner conversation, Alyssa requested that we watch home movies for “old time sake.” We viewed numerous excerpts of videos from 1988 to 1993, none of which we had previously watched as an entire family. During our viewing, the collective mood ranged from sentimental to raucously silly. I’d like to summarize my reactions to the evening.
I felt deep nostalgia while soaking up scene upon scene of our family of five delightfully interacting. The rapid-fire succession of sweet and fun times we had living under the same roof served to overshadow the challenging and difficult periods that we endured together. Amidst our riveted attention on the movies, I also really enjoyed the light banter, especially my quick-witted son, Michael’s humor.
One video that was particularly special to me involved a triple celebration: my oldest daughter, Alaina’s Bat Mitzvah, my dad’s 70th (and final) birthday, and my brother-in-law’s 40th birthday. I so missed the flock of relatives who one-by-one had paraded up to a table for a candle-lighting ceremony; many have long since deceased. The precious blend of sincere speeches, prayer, festive dancing and playful skits overwhelmed me. Furthermore, as one of the most senior members of our entire family, the “sunrise, sunset” motif penetrated and alarmed me more than ever before.
With Valentine’s Day just a few days away, our spontaneous love fest seemed most timely. The family bonding that pervaded the room grew thicker and more delicious as the evening wore on.
I highly recommend arranging a sustained family viewing of home movies, slide shows, and/or photos. This kind of shared experience will undoubtedly elicit various emotions, several meaningful/powerful perspectives, and some bursts of laughter.
However, fair warning: if you blink several times, you will find yourself gazing into the sunset. After all, how did a guy who is often a kid at heart, with a forty-year-old body, turn into a grayish-white-haired grandfather? Indeed, “swiftly fly the years!”