Fifth Day of Thanksgiving: F.i.L.
an Update

Sixth Day of Thanksgiving: Scrapbooking

Way back when I was pregnant with Haley (that's been sixteen years ago, mind you!), I was working at WordPerfect. My friend and coworker, Teresa, invited me to a party she was hosting and since I was all about being supportive, I went. It was a Creative Memories party, and from the second the consultant started showing us layouts, I was hooked on the idea of scrapbooking. I didn't buy anything that night—the expense of getting started seemed overwhelming—but I did start planning how I would write about and photograph this new baby of mine.

It grew from that moment, my delight with scrapbooking. I went through the binder stage, and then the CM stage, and now I use CTMH albums. I went through design stages: figuring out how to make cool letters, reading books about visual triangles and balance, trying every. single. technique discussed in Creating Keepsakes magazine; realizing I could do it my own way. I went through the I-must-get-published craziness, collecting CK's silent rejections but finding my niche at Simple Scrapbooks and then at Big Picture. I recognized my shortcoming: my layouts aren't really about scrapbooking, per se. They're not about paper and ribbon and stamping and punching and all the stuff, even though I buy and use and love the stuff. They are, in the end, only about the story, and no one can sell anything based on that. (Translation: I am comfortable with my limited publications and confident in knowing I continue to stay true to my own vision.)

But whatever the phase, here is the truth: I am still, sixteen years later, deeply and thoroughly in love with scrapbooking. My sisters and my mom all think I'm weird. You shouldn't get me started on how Kendell feels about it, and I'm pretty sure even my very own daughter thinks I'm overly obsessed. My friends who used to scrapbook with me no longer scrap at all; my scrapping-and-emailing friends of newer vintage don't, either. In fact, I'm the only person I know in person who still does it on a regular basis. Part of this is simple stubbornness: I've bought all this stuff! I can't give up my hobby because what would I do with all the stuff? But it's more than just the stuff; I keep on loving scrapbooking because it is a space for telling stories, for pushing my children's experiences into the future so they will remember and so that someone in the future will know.

Yesterday, I visited my dad for the annual Thanksgiving dinner at his care center. My mom and niece and sister were there, and later (because he forgot), my uncle Monte also came. Becky told him that she would like to sit down with him and ask him about our grandpa Curtis (his and my dad's dad), because Dad never talked about his childhood. Monte told us a bit about our grandpa's funeral, and Becky asked if he had any pictures. He sighed, and shook his head, and a small sorrow welled up in me for all those lost photographs. For all the stories that are lost with them, too. Monte can tell us some of the words of the stories, but when you have pictures paired with words? That is when personal history comes alive. Maybe it will be decades before anyone changes from thinking I'm weird to thinking I was right in persevering with the scrapbooking thing. But one day, someone will want a story and an image; I will be able to give it to them, and that is reason enough to be grateful for scrapbooking.

But there's also this: sometimes I get to influence others, too. So I'm also grateful that I've gotten to be a part of Big Picture Classes since nearly the beginning. I really, really love the philosophy behind BP, because it jives so thoroughly with my own ideas. I still get a happy little thrill when a class of mine starts (like this one); I still happy dance at the thought of helping other scrappers. BP is celebrating its fifth birthday this week, and I got to make a little happy-birthday video. Dare I confess that my compassion for the contestants on ANTM has grown by leaps and bounds? Talking to a camera is hard work, and I don't do it very well, so if you'd like your daily laugh, you should check it out.

Or you could just tell me (because I'm curious): how do YOU feel about scrapbooking?

Comments

Maureen

I am wrapping up a family history project for my Mom's family. My aunt came to me with about 100 old photos and asked me to scan them and make them look pretty so she could share them with her siblings for last Christmas. I told her I would happy to, but that I had to get everyone together and get the stories. They were resistant at first, but we have gotten together with my 7 surviving Aunts and Uncles and put names to faces, and stories to photos, and shared the bits and pieces they each got when their parents passed. We have all had a great time in the process, and I can't wait to hand the finished books out on Christmas Eve.

I agree about the sadness of the lost of information. Of their 4 grand parents we only have grainy images of two. Of the 11 Aunts and Uncles we only have images of 6. There are very few photos of my aunts and uncles growing up, some periods of their lives are completely without photos.

So why am I sharing so much on your blog? Two reasons, like you I have no local friends who scrap book, and like you it is sad to be missing so my photos and so many stories. So I wanted to let you know that I do understand and am glad I can share my little story with someone who understands why I have spent hours on this project and couldn't just stick the photos in a book.

Maura

I grew up in a house where the camera was ALWAYS forgotten. There are a ton of pics of me as a little kid because I'm the oldest, but by the time my mom had her fourth, the camera was barely used. (And thank GOODNESS for that... nobody needs to see pics of me from 6th grade to... law school. Sigh.) My point is that I wish I had more photos and memories from my childhood that I could put together. I have all my baby pics in a falling apart binder and have meant (for years) to fix it. I never seem to have the time or the extra money. But I do love the creativity that goes into it.

As a side note, the one album I did make about my trip to Europe in college is meticulously handwritten. First pencil, then over the pencil in pen. Hello, OCD!

Robin W

I too started scrapbooking from going to a CM party. I was teaching high school English at the time and knew at once that this was the hobby for me. I had always put my pictures into albums, now I realized that I could add more than long captions under the pictures. Some years I have made more pages than other years, but I have never stopped documenting my family's life.

All the friends who started out with me, like yours, no longer scrapbook. I miss the weekend crop parties even though I'm more productive when I don't have to load up my stuff and take it somewhere. I get my "scrapping buddy fix" by reading blogs, such as yours, from people who still participate in this hobby. I also take classes online; that's how I found your blog by the way. I took your Textuality class at BPC, and I really enjoyed it!

I still love the fact that I make pages that tell stories, that give me a creative outlet, and that may someday be appreciated by a relative I might not even know now. My family has gotten use to me always taking pictures and asking questions and I think (maybe just hope) that even if they don't always admit it, they like the fact that I take the time to tell our stories. Even though I have done this for years, when my mother passed away unexpectedly last year I found out how many gaps there were in my knowledge of her life. I can't undo those gaps now, but I can try to document all the things that I wish I had thought to ask her while I still could.

I have written quite a long post, especially when I usually just read and don't reply. However, your post today made me want to let you know that you are not the only one left still making scrapbooks. I now need to go finish a page I've been working on for a couple of days now. :)

Becky K

I think it's amusing we both wrote about Monte today, just from a different angle. I kind of lost the thread of what I wanted to say in my post, but I love yours. I too felt a pang at those lost pictures. Maybe there weren't many. It's just so interesting how they are so different.

Claudia McDaniel

Ditto to everything you said! I got into scrapbooking because I already enjoyed taking photos and I enjoy writing, though you wouldn't always know that from my layouts. I really enjoy the creative process most, as it has become my stress-relieving activity. I'm quite obsessed with having lots of stuff, lol. My husband is supportive and often compliments my efforts. My boys like to look at their albums and occasionally ask to scrapbook with me. Unfortunately, no one else "gets it" and that saddens me. I wish everyone scrapbooked so that they could enjoy it as much as I do and so that they would have their stories and photos recorded. As they say, "you can lead a horse to water..."

Lucy

I am one of those individuals that got intensely interested in scrapbooking ten years ago, only to have completely abandoned it four years later. I did love the art form, although I was never, ever very creative. All I did was copy things from magazines and then, eventually, using less and less medium. I realized all I cared about was a place to look at the photos. Blogs have filled that need, for me.

I still feel bad for Henry, though, who doesn't even have his first year of life on paper. Just in a blurb book.

Gina Jackson

Your post really touched me today. We are laying my Grandpa to rest today. He lived 91 long years and had many stories to share. Luckily we got some of them down on tape thanks to my dad but the rest of them are gone now. I too am the only one I know who scrapbooks and like you I'm doing it so the stories get told and can be remembered. I'm not that old but I remember very little about my childhood and what I liked and disliked. I wish that my family had kept/taken more pictures and written more of my story down so that I could look back on it now. Thank you for the post today.

Margot/NZ

I scrapbook for several reasons.
I enjoy playing with the stuff (and I have also got a lot of 'stuff' to play with).
I love telling the stories of my family, and I want to tell the stories of my family of origin (and my parents families) too - and I have quite a few photos from when the family home was sold when my Dad moved into his sheltered housing unit. I don't know all the stories for the photos, but I know enough to put something together (it's on my 'some day' list).
But more than the stuff and the stories, I am also scrapbooking to capture the memories that might just trigger something if I develop Alzheimers.

Kary in Colorado

I love this post, Amy. I, too, am the family historian/journalist and although I come from a very artistic family, I think they all think I'm a little nuts to do this (not serious enough). It's okay though--I love it. I got my degree in art, with an emphasis on graphic design and illustration, but have never done much with it professionally. Scrapbooking is an outlet for that talent, and writing the stories is icing on the cake. My grandmother loved genealogy and I still remember how much I enjoyed looking at her snapshots (from the 1890s & early 1900s! taken with a Kodak Brownie camera!) and hearing her stories. Unfortunately, I was too young to think to write them down. I guess I don't want the same fate to befall my own grandkids.

I've taken all your BPS classes too--you are a great teacher!

Kristin Kanner

I just went to my good friend's mother's funeral on Monday. After, we gathered at her sister's house for lunch. I sat and listened to the deceased's sister and some of the cousins tell stories. I must have heard, "I forgot about that" or "that's did happen, but here's how I remember it" 100 times that day and I actually thought about how nice it would have been for these stories to have been written down and preserved. This friend has always scoffed at my scrapbooking because it's too expensive/too sappy/too much time, but I after hearing those comments, I'm so grateful I've maintained telling our stories!

Peg

Amy,
This post may be one of the most poignant for us "scrappers". You said it all, it's about the pictures, papers, ribbons and glue, it's about the families, stories lost and found. I find it's one of the things the "grown" kids can snicker about me that doesn't bother me too much because I also know there's something in at least one of the pages I've done lately that they'll like.

Good timing to remind us all to get some stories this Thanksgiving and hopefully get them scribbled down for future works :)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

elizabeth

I for one am certainly thankful for inspiring, scrapbooking friends who live inside my computer : )

Melissa Grogan

I too still love scrapbooking. There is just something special about putting paper, photos together with a story that someday, someone else will look at and know what was going on... ;). By the time I had began scrapping seriously, my grandfather was already lost in the Alzheimer's haze. I am aware of a TRUNK full of photos that we have no idea who the people are, and why they were important. It breaks my heart. I have photos not scrapped, but they all go with something! :) Notes, memorabilia. I was struck by how many people looked at Connor's albums at his graduation party. Everyone wanted to see them. They have not been published ever, nor will they be, but they were perfect for my child and his family to come. Love your thoughts, wish we lived within driving distance so we could crop together... or quilt! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Viv

I love taking photographs and had so many which were missing the stories behind them. So I scrapbook so I don’t forget the stories of an event, someone I have met, or how I was feeling. For me, like you, it is the stories which go with the photos that mean the layout is complete. When I have attended classes at crops which don’t include journaling, no matter how beautiful the layout is, it does not feel complete. I do my best to add the story but sometimes this is not possible which means the layout gets put to the back of an album. Although I have lots of embellishments and patterned paper I use them in very limited amounts, I like to see my journaling on my pages, but for those layouts I do where it may be a personal story I don’t want to share at this moment I have a separate album that’s not shared with others. At the moment when I visit my Nan I try to get her to dig out her old photos and tell me the stories behind them. I record these on little postcards from the stationary shop and these get slipped behind the photo so they stay together. That way even if I don’t scrapbook them they will be together for the future.

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