Two things my wife and I are really glad to have are a camcorder and a digital SLR camera.
We got both of them several years ago, the camera as a wedding gift and the camcorder from my mother-in-law. Mostly we wanted them to be able to document family get-togethers, trips, and our nieces growing up. But they became especially nice to have after our son arrived.
We could easily record his cute laughs and squeaks and developmental milestones on our smartphones, and often do. But keeping some high-definition clips in the simple SD card of the camcorder somehow feels a tad sturdier. It’s a self-contained archive that is built for one purpose, that isn’t connected to The Cloud or needing constant updates or competing for storage space with apps of questionable value. It does one job really well.
We look back at what we’ve recorded just as often as most people do with their smartphone recordings—which is to say, not very often. But that’s OK. The benefit of home videos is in their slow and steady accumulation.
Our own parents took hours and hours of home video of us as kids, first on tape and now converted to DVD. Some of it is the expected banner moments you’d expect parents to record: soccer games, concerts, holidays, graduations. The rest is the small, everyday stuff between those highlights that comprise most of one’s life: playing at home, playing at grandma’s house, running through the sprinkler in the summer. (At least this is what we did in the pre-internet era.)
All of it matters. And when you play it back, everything blends together into one stream, a confluence of the capstones and the quotidian. Such is life.