I can still hear the hum of the film projector, the sound of my grandfather setting up the screen stand in the family den, the sight of air particles dancing in front of the projector’s light.

As a kid, one of my favorite parts about any large family gathering was the slide or film show that almost always followed dinner at my grandparent’s house. The show often included slides from my grandparents’ recent international travel. Other times, the show included pictures of camping trips that my mom and her brothers had taken growing up, pictures of road trips back “home” to Minnesota during the 1960s at Christmas, the family farm covered in snow. Some nights, we watched old Super 8 home movies, silent films that showed my mother as a teenager, getting ready for her high school graduation, or my uncles goofing off while mowing the yard. In the movies, my uncles wore bell-bottoms and my mom wore mini-dresses or pantsuits with extra-wide collars. My sister and I sometimes giggled about how everyone looked — but we were scolded. One day, I’d watch home videos of my childhood and our own children would laugh, my grandmother told us.

But I’m a child of the 1980s. The Super 8 home movie camera wasn’t used by the time I came around. My parents owned a VHS recorder the size of a small dinosaur that sat on top of the shoulder while filming, not just because of the size of the camera, but because it was the weight of a bowling ball.

My mother took that camera everywhere — to family holidays, birthday parties, ballet recitals and choir performances at church. It was there when my sister and I put on our own dance “performances” in the living room, or when we played on our swing set in the yard. But somehow, those VHS videos disappeared over the years. The family slideshow and old home movie nights at my grandparents’ stopped around the time I was in college.

I never realized how much I missed them — until last weekend. My mother, while cleaning out some bookshelves, unearthed a dusty box of VHS tapes. My husband hooked up the old tape player — and my 1987 self came to life on my mother’s flat-screen TV.

Last weekend, I curled up on the couch with my 85-year-old grandmother as we watched her and my grandfather’s 35th wedding anniversary party — so many of those people, including my grandfather, are gone now. My kids surrounded the TV to watch me and my sister sing and dance at age 6 and 2, much the way that my own girls do at home now.

My youngest daughter pointed at my sister on the screen and called out her cousin’s name, thinking the toddler on the TV was my niece instead.

When I heard my own 6-year-old voice on the video, it didn’t sound like me. Instead, it was very much the voice of my oldest daughter’s. As I watched myself on screen, I realized that I see those mannerisms every day, only in a different kid. I was watching myself as a child on screen, but in a way, I was watching my 7-year-old daughter — the apple didn’t fall too far from this tree.

We stayed up until almost midnight watching those old home videos, long after the kids had been put to bed. In a way, it was like walking through the home where I spent half my childhood again, seeing the family pets that have been long gone. It allowed me to see my grandparent’s house once more, the home that was the center of our family for so many decades. It allowed me to hear by grandfather’s voice again, a man I still very much miss.

It was a glimpse into what my life used to be like, only this time I got to share it with my own young kids. It was a reminder that while life changes, there are some things that very much remain the same.

— Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News. Reach her at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com.