Like everybody, I spend too much time worrying about what I do wrong or what I don’t do well enough.
For today, I’m going to focus on a few things I’ve done right.
One of those things was creating scrapbooks of our family life.
I may not have been the craftiest, most artistic scrapbooker in the universe, but I preserved my kids’ childhoods and my own memories in archival quality books.
My favorite pages are the ones with close-up photos — the ones that capture a mood, a moment, a place, a personality. I love the “photo shoot” of Sara when she wore her blue and white checked, pleated skirt for several days in a row. (She’s always been a skirt girl.) She posed for a photo in nearly every room in the house.
I love the photos of Annie in all her “roles,” like when she set up her art easel on the deck, plopped on her beret and spoke French to me while she painted. Or when she packed her Bitty Baby suitcase, her backpack and her doll and went on a little vacation in the backyard.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about scrapbooking:
- Focus on the photos themselves, not on the embellishments and cute factor of each page.
- Journal! Details can quickly be forgotten.
- Go simple. Trends come and go and all the stickers, die-cuts, paper-layering, etc. will fade into the background later because all you want is to see the faces and places you love.
- Don’t scrapbook the same kinds of events over and over. I have a million soccer and cheerleading pictures. After awhile, they all look the same.
- You only need the best of the prom, dance, sports, party pictures. Keep all the digital photos you want on your computer or storage device, but don’t put them all in a scrapbook. It will overwhelm you and become monotonous in your books.
- Perhaps the best advice is to keep duplicates of the close-ups. I can’t tell you how many times I needed photos for school projects, award ceremonies, graduation timelines, and now, for a montage of childhood pictures for a wedding luncheon. Keep a folder of representative photos over the years so that you don’t have to ply them out of scrapbooks and damage them in the process. (If I’d kept extra copies, my photos in this blog would look better too!)
One final thought…When I was diagnosed with cancer, I stopped making scrapbooks. Partly because I had no energy, and partly because Facebook had become a photo repository, but largely because I didn’t want to see photos of my puffy face, bloated body, bald head, and vacant eyes. But, as soon as that was behind me, I wished I had photographed the entire journey. It’s a critical part of my life history. I’m sorry I didn’t do a better job of collecting photos of myself and my family as we struggled through it.
In the end, we are creating the books of our lives as we live them. All the important events — including some of the ones we would like to forget — should be included to show the ups and downs of the journey.
Learn from me.
If you haven’t started family scrapbooks, do it — in some form. If you have quit, like me, consider how to pick it up again. I signed up for a scrapbooking evening with some friends to help motivate me. I won’t worry about being artistic and clever this time. I will only try to get the photos that tell our stories.
I’ve always kept journals too. Some are more consistent than others. Lately, there are too many gaps in time, and I want to work on that.
Journals are important too, but the visual gift of a photo from another time is priceless in helping savor the experiences of our lives.
I read this quote that sums it up best: “My grandmother made me a scrapbook because I was once too young to remember; I am making scrapbooks for my family because one day I may be too old to remember.”