I started a tradition when my son turned 2 of making him a birthday video. I go through pictures of the previous twelve months, pick my favorites, find a couple of sappy/sweet songs, play around with Windows Movie Maker, then post it to social media for family and friends to see.
He’s going to be 6 (How? When?) the day after tomorrow, and I still love this annual birthday video project.
The process has changed over the years. It’s now more difficult to edit transitions and add music with the software I use to create the videos. Video sharing has changed, so I now use a different format to upload than I previously had. Selecting pictures is simultaneously easier and harder than it was before. Easier, because when he was a baby and a toddler, I took so many more pictures, and it took me forever to go through. Harder, because now I beat myself up for not taking as many pictures of him as I used to. Also, with changes in life, I’m no longer editing and uploading pictures as I go, so now I need to edit all at once.
The pictures from this year differ from years past because due to the pandemic, we haven’t done our usual activities. There aren’t really a lot of photos from family gatherings or playdates, or trips to indoor spaces that we used to enjoy, or even as many outdoor spaces. Instead of pictures of his end-of-the-year preschool program and graduation, there’s a shot of him holding a last day of school sign while standing in front of our house. There are more pictures set in our living room and our yard than ever before. You get to see each and every pair of pajamas that he has worn in the past year. I’m pretty proud of myself for reacting to these changes with a shrug (quite different from how I felt this past spring).
Another interesting aspect of making this year’s video from photos that were mostly taken during the pandemic is that this project feels more like a walk down memory lane than it previously has. People often joke about how 2020 has felt more like several years have elapsed instead of just one. When you’re looking at a year’s worth of pictures of your child, you realize it’s true. Was it only this past January that he lost his first tooth? Did we really just get our kitten this spring? Wasn’t he Indiana Jones for Halloween last year? It’s truly bizarre.
Making these videos really makes me realize how much my boy has changed and is still changing.
There are the obvious changes, like growing taller, which I notice because I’ve had to buy new shoes and new clothes to keep up with him. But then there are the changes that happen so subtly I usually don’t even notice them until either his grandparents (who don’t see him as often as they used to) point them out, or until I’m going through photos. His face is changing. The little boy in his final year of preschool is now a bigger boy halfway through kindergarten, and his cheeks are getting more angular than chubby. He poses more for pictures, in ways that let his humor shine through. He loves taking pictures of himself and of our pets, and he’ll gladly pose with his dad or me for a selfie (is there another word for it when there’s more than one person?).
Like so many aspects of being a mama, it feels bittersweet watching the birthday video each year. The bitter comes from realizing that yet another year has gone by, and my goodness, how quickly my boy is growing up. The sweet, of course, comes from seeing over and over again that beautiful face – eyes lit up with excitement, curiously tilting his head, hysterically laughing with his mouth wide open, beaming with pride at an achievement, content while snuggling his parents or his pets, brow furrowed in concentration, peaceful while sleeping, etc.
This is a tradition I would highly recommend doing for your own child. What birthday traditions do you look forward to each year?