The year: 1986
The location: Banjul, The Gambia, West Africa
The cast: A family of four: mother (37), father (39), eldest daughter (15), youngest daughter (2).
The scene: Christmas morning, parents wake their daughters and the family is soon gathered around a sparsely decorated tree in the corner of their living room. Holiday music plays in the background.
With a messy head of curls, the littlest daughter squeals with delight upon descending the stairs realizing Santa has visited.
Gifts are distributed and opened. For the teenager with Sun-In bleached hair and nails chewed down to the quick, a necklace, Lady Stetson perfume and a Kodak Disc camera. For the toddler, a remote control puppy that yaps throughout the morning, baby doll clothes, a bright yellow toy camera and a Barbie doll pink starter vanity set.
Biscuits smothered with butter and jam are nibbled, as are Santa’s left over cookies. The familiar sound of a diet Dr. Pepper being cracked open can be heard at one point.
The conversation is faint, but there is laughter and smiles.
A video camera sits across the room on a coffee table and records the entire scene. The quality is fuzzy, but the memory is rich.
I was mesmerized as I watched 43 minutes of one family’s Christmas morning.
My sister had eight VHS home movies transferred to DVD for me for Christmas this year and the scene described above was one of them. Thank you, Leah for such an incredible and thoughtful gift. I will always treasure these home movies.