Like Darkness is Hunting Me: Further Thoughts on Depression
Third Week of Weekly Reviews. Including a Recipe!

Scrapbooking is Cool. You Can't Know That Unless You Try it Though.

It’s funny how one decision or experience can lead you somewhere you didn’t intend to go.

Last week, I was in Target and the Halloween decorations made me cry. Seriously: I was crying (albeit silently) in Target. Over Halloween decorations. The skeletons and pumpkins and black, glittery skulls were like physical representations of how quickly time goes, how fleeting this life is. All of my Halloweens with little kids are gone. I don’t even know what this year’s Halloween will look like. And while I want to try to embrace right now and find the joy in what is here, I can’t help it: I loved my days of having little kids at Halloween and I am sad they are gone. 20170908_101458

So I decided, right then and there while I was standing in the Halloween aisle in Target, to make a Halloween scrapbook album. Nothing complicated: One group photo from each year since Haley was a baby, with a few list-style notes and the year. I started working on it the next day. Gathering pictures from 2003 and onward was fairly easy, as my digital pictures are pretty well organized (thanks to a husband who likes things neat and tidy on the computer!).

To get the photos from 1995-2002, however, I had to dig into my negatives. They are also well organized, but you know how sometimes a task that should take about 20 minutes ends up taking all afternoon because you get sidetracked? Yep—that happened to me as I flipped through the negatives. I found myself ooooohing over pictures I’d forgotten, and then I had to delve into my older scrapbooks to remind myself how (or if) I’d scrapbooked them. And then I just spent the rest of the afternoon looking at layouts. Reading the journaling, studying pictures, remembering experiences. Laughing at stories I’d entirely forgotten, or sniffing at some tender moments that the layouts made clearer for me.

When the kids came home from school that day, I was surrounded by photo albums, scrapbooks, negatives, and not a few crumpled Kleenex.

My heart was full. And soothed.

Later that night, lying in bed while waiting to fall asleep, I found myself thinking about how happy my scrapbooks make me. It makes me happy to be in the process of making a layout. And it makes me happy to revisit the memories. I always love my kids and am aware of my gratitude at being their mom. But looking through our photos and reading about our experiences reminded me of just how…layered, I guess, life is. We have had all of these years together, loving each other, disappointing each other, getting frustrated, having fun. Doing things together, big experiences like Disneyland vacations, and also small moments like chocolate chip cookie baking and skinned-knee bandaging. All of it, the good, the painful, the sweet, the difficult: it all works together to form our lives and our relationships.

It isn’t only about right now. Memory matters too.

And I am so grateful I have all of those stories down in words. I’m grateful I can revisit them. I’m grateful I can leave my own memories here, on paper, in case someone wants them when I’m gone.

But.

As much as I love & adore & am obsessed with scrapbooking, I’m keenly aware of how other people think of it. To some people, it’s “cute,” with all of the negative connotations that word suggests. To some people it’s a waste of time and/or money. To others it’s just baffling.

Amy’s weird little hobby.

Even though I think about scrapbooking a lot, and I spend a lot of time scrapbooking, I don’t talk about it much to people who aren’t scrapbookers. Even on social media, where I follow a lot of other scrapbookers, I almost never post about scrapbooking. (Especially on Facebook. For some reason it’s easier on Instagram.) It’s almost like it’s a thing that causes shame—my dirty little secret, as I’ve written before.

So there I was, curled up in bed in the dark, listening to my husband snore and thinking about how much I love my hobby. How much happiness it brings me. And how much I want to share that happiness with the people in my life who don’t scrapbook—and how, right there, I bump into resistance. Into embarrassment.

And I decided: forget that. (Actually, I used more colorful language in my head!)

Scrapbooking is cool. Sure, it can be kitschy and more than a little bit twee. But it’s also just cool. Patterns and colors and textures. Fonts and typesetting. Design elements. Large textual treatments and tiny little details. It’s artsy and beautiful and important.

And all of those people—friends and family members and coworkers and social-media strangers—who think my hobby is silly?

I decided I don’t care.

It brings me happiness. It brings me a sense of peace. It scratches my creative need. It gives me a space for writing our stories. It reminds me that my life has been full of meaningful experiences. It reminds me, over and over, of how much I love this family and this life I have been given.

Go ahead. You can think I’m silly. But while you’re thinking that, I’m feeling a little bit sad for you. Because you don’t get to revisit memory in these many different ways. You don’t get to feel this particular sort of happiness that scrapbooking makes me feel.

And you have no justification for owning twelve exacto knives.

And that, sweet friends, is how I went from weeping in Target over a plastic cat skeleton to rejoicing in my hobby of choice.

You just never know where life is headed!

Comments

Robin W.

You have such a way with words!! I love this hobby and the joy it has brought me. Maybe it is our inability/insecurity to share our "scrapbooking" that has prompted other terms, such as travel journal and memory keeping, to be used.

Janice

I miss Halloween with littles too. It's just not the same now (my youngest is 14). But I do have a Halloween scrapbook in process and would love to see yours when it's done! Hope you'll share.

And I don't get remarks about scrapbooking being "silly," but I do have friends that say they don't have time for that. I always say you make time for what you love!

CarrieH

Long live scrapbooking! I love everything about it and can't imagine not having it in my life. And I love your scrapbook pages, Amy. You are such a great inspiration, so please, continue to share.

Anne-Liesse

Thank you for this post. As usual it gives me a lot to think about. It has given me a lot of joy to read it, too, because the feelings you shared about getting to tell and revisit stories are exactly the reasons that I scrapbook. I really don't care how many albums I create, and I hope I'm never "caught up". I just want to keep looking at pretty paper and telling stories and holding onto those moments that go away too quickly in these days of applications to college. I see, as you mentioned, the love made plain in our family in those layouts. I see us shine and weep and change. My scrapbooks, and the crafting of those layouts, are a gift to me. Thank you for your words. I am glad to be s part of a community with you in it.

Chiswickmum

You are not alone. So many little things make me cry silently while I negotiate this new phase of having my only child married. Encouraged by this post to try to look forward to the new reality while savouring the past. Thank you for sharing.

Gramma Dee

Thanks for sharing this! How many hobbies can give you the chance to relive the past, cherish the present and reach into the future all at one time?

My "kids" are all grown up and moved away, with homes and kids of their own. They send my photos, and I scrapbook them. When I see the dgk's they look at and enjoy my scrapbooks. When I am home alone I can pull them out and re experience our adventures.

Not only that, but sometimes the kids suggest pages I could do, and we go out to take the pic's that will tell a particular story. "Gramma, you should do a page about..." When I take a photo, I am also sometimes thinking of the page it will to on.

When I leave to return to my own home I always have tears in my eyes when I hug them goodbye, but I also have tiny stars there too, thinking of all the photos I will print before I get to my scraproom.

It really doesn't matter what the nay sayers spout. It IS cool to create Time Machines with paper!

Angie Smith

I love everything about this, thank you for sharing. I love this hobby and I love seeing others that do too!

Jen

Thank you for this post. It puts into words so much of what I think about this hobby of ours. I have been guilty of being embarrassed or ashamed to tell others that I play with pretty paper and photos...reliving memories and spending hours of time (not to mention the money) creating albums to line my bookshelves. But I cherish each and every one of those albums.

mellieundershaws

Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

Jennifer

thank you for your post- 'scrapbooking' is a word that doesn't really convey all that this hobby can do for us. It's a chance to be creative with colors, textures, different types of materials, photos (good OR bad), and the chance to relive countless experiences and memories both while making the pages and while looking at them again months or years later.

Other people might not understand that my choice of a particular material on a page is an echo of the page topic (vintage buttons on a heritage page, or extra-colorful paper choices to convey a sense of fun on a carnival page, for example) but I know, and it will make me smile when I look at the page later. I wish I could make everyone understand how fun scrapbooking can be, and what it could do for them-- but I know, and I guess that's enough.

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