Projector: What I learned from the family slide show

Part of this text was originally written for my parent’s, in a Holiday Slide Photo Book, 2012.

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One of the most important family experiences I had growing up, was watching family slides together with my 3 brothers. About every 6 months, dad would would pull out the projector, and start fussing with the carousels and the empty slide slots and the projector bulb. Us kids would compete over who got to set up the screen. Shadow puppets, who started out very funny–and inevitably fighting–would play across the screen in the projected light. Finally, after adjusting a final upsidedown slide or two, dad would place the carousel on the projector, and away we would go.

Back to vacations and campsites, back to summer parties around the pool, back to mom’s animal Birthday cakes, to Egg Hunts, back to ingenious Halloween costumes, back to holiday cookie decorating, flipping off the diving board, the dog wearing clothes, our sweet faces sleeping~

yakima picnic table+4

I was about 6 the first time I remember sitting cross legged on the floor eating popcorn, and watching these huge photos flash up onto the screen. Dad, and sometimes mom, would begin telling the story of where we came from. I would see old photos of my grand parents, my great grandparents, my Uncles, my favorite Aunt Jan, and through their voices in the dark, we learned reverence for the old ways. Like a tribe sitting around a fire, these giant pictures lighting up the faces of my brothers and me, telling the story of where we come from, the story of our values, how you are one of us, of how you belong.

Holmes Family 1940's zoom

Sometimes a slide would just sit there on the screen. No one talking. Just the hum of the projector fan. I remember thinking that my dad was having an emotion and to sit still and not look back at him. And not say anything. None of us would say anything. It was dad’s time.

The slideshow was my dad’s way to help his children recognize all the honoring and love that existed inside of him, however unexpressed. Through nostalgia.

Excerpt from “Madmen”

“Nostalgia
its delicate
but potent
in Greek nostalgia means the pain from an old wound

its a twinge in your heart
far more powerful than your memory alone

this slide projector was a space ship
a time machine
it went backwards and forwards
it would take us to a place where we ached to go again

its not called the wheel its called the carousel

and let us travel the way a child travels

around and around and back home again

to a place where we know we are loved.”

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