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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Making the Montage

So as I mentioned in my recent Kveller.com piece, I am working on assembling a photo montage for Hannah's upcoming bat mitzvah. For the uninitiated, at some bar and bat mitzvah parties, video montages are shown depicting photos of the child growing up, set to sentimental music. It's not a requirement by any means, but I've always loved watching them, regardless of how close I am to the kid involved. I usually even shed a tear or two. Kids grow up, time passes, we're all getting older. How can you not cry? Just thinking of making Hannah's has had me on the verge of tears many times already.

And yes, I've started to work on it now, after admitting I hadn't yet gotten to it during the first half of the summer while both kids were gone. But this past Sunday I spent a significant chunk of time going through the over THIRTY THOUSAND PHOTOS we have access to online. How amazing is it that virtually every photo taken of this kid since the moment she was born is available to be accessed on a computer? I remember sorting through physical photos of me, with my parents, to make the montage that was shown at my bat mitzvah.

Thankfully though, Hannah isn't in all thirty thousand photos. In fact, there's an awful lot that I should delete, and many photos are duplicated due to various systems used over the years. But my first cut of the photos left me with about 250 from which to chose, probably 100 or so more than I need. It will be harder to cut the number down, because oh my, what an amazing, lucky, wonderful, fantastic life has she (and I) had over the last twelve and a half years? These photos highlight so much, from her first patriotic outfit on the Fourth of July, to the three times she was a flower girl, to amazing vacations. So many photos with Max and Marc and me, and many other family members and friends. School projects. Plays and concerts. It's a true highlight reel.

That version is what we'll show at the party. Obviously, a party like this is when you're supposed to look back on only the highlights. But it's not the full truth.

I won't include photos of the hard days. There won't be photos of tantrums or tears. I won't show the school project that was only completed through force. You won't have to watch video of the recital that didn't go well. There aren't photos of the endless piles of laundry or carpool runs done in the rain. There aren't photos of the conversations at bedtime, about a how a "friend" wants to copy your work at school. And you won't notice the three month period when no one took any pictures of my children, because I was completely incapacitated before back surgery.

The hard stuff doesn't make the montage, but it's still there, in our history. We wouldn't be able to see how wonderful the wonderful moments are, without acknowledging the hard is there too.

I last watched my own bat mitzvah montage a few years ago, showing it to my kids. Mine was a highlight reel too. I didn't cry when I saw it as a newly minted 13 year old Jewish adult, but I did re-watching it then. I cried for the grandparents and other relatives since lost. I cried for the way my Dad picked just the right songs, synchronizing the photos to land at just the right moments. I cried that my own mom is in too few of the photos, being behind the camera herself. I cried for the passage of time, wanting a new highlight reel to reflect what happened from age 13 on.

And then I realized that I'd be making Hannah's montage. While Hannah's accomplishments are hers, not mine, so many of the best moments of my life over the last 13 years have involved her, and Max, and this life Marc and I have built together. So in a way, this video will be a highlight reel from ages 26-39 for me, too.

Now to find the perfect music for making me cry.

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