Whose Story is it Anyway?
Of the five goals I created for myself, this one is the complete and total bust. I put it on the list to push me to prioritize working on my scrapbooks. It partially worked but then I hit a brick wall…hard!
I’ve been a scrapbooker since the early 2000’s (maybe even late 1990s). I went to a Creative Memories party (think Tupperware or Mary Kay for scrapbooking) and was hooked! It appealed to both my creative and the storytelling side. It didn’t take much convincing for me to sign up as a ‘consultant’ but only long enough to stock up on supplies for fifty percent off.
Even after the age of digital photos began I still stuck with paper scrapbooks. About ten years ago I created my first digital scrapbook (and had it printed, of course) and decided I would start doing that as well. I have thousands of photos from pre-digital age and I’d be scared to count how many digital photos as well. I also have a giant tub for each of my children filled with ‘memorabilia’ from their school days, scouts, sports, etc.
I’ve got supplies, photos and stuff, a creative side and a huge love of story-telling plus experience from quite a few scrapbooks already finished …so what’s the problem? My oldest child…no, just kidding…sort of. She just made me completely rethink about scrapbooking and that froze my progress for a little while.
She recently lost a family member and I helped her with the sorting and cleaning process. This person did.not.throw.away.anything….ANYTHING. There were two different large trunks with hundreds and hundreds of photos and memorabilia inside. Not only were they not in any sort of scrapbook or album but there was no rhyme or reason to the storage. There were photos from 50 years ago mixed in with photos from last year, all from multiple lines of family.
I was able to sit and sort a good portion of the photos into different piles for different members of their family. Then my daughter took her stack and further sorted and refined it. She was enjoying seeing the different photos of herself doing different things. Most were from her early childhood but she remembered a lot of the events. We got to talking about scrapbooking during all this and she
threw the brick said the words that completely changed my perspective.
Whoah…what? My whole point of scrapbooking was to journal and tell the stories of our lives. It was a visual history of their childhood. Weren’t our memories the same?
Let’s Think This Over
So I had to think about this and talk it to death. First with my mom who is also an avid scrapbooker as well. She said she thinks of it more like I do…cataloguing history. She does have bins for me and my brothers of stuff from our childhood (when do we get these? She really didn’t say…even when I asked her!). My dad chimed in with his experience of both his parents dying about a year apart. He and his siblings took what they wanted OUT of the scrapbooks his mom created and the books went into the landfill. He said it was painful but it was the best way.
Next was my husband, who wishes all my scrapbooking stuff would magically disappear, but said I should just do it for me. Then I went back to the daughter who started this crisis to begin with. She was still firm in her belief there was a separation between her memories and mine. She was also concerned that I’m probably keeping a lot more stuff from their school days then she or her two siblings would really be interested in dragging around.
I finally came to the following conclusions:
- Scrapbooking is for ME. I love reading the stories, seeing the photos and immersing myself in the memories. I also see the joy my grandmother gets in looking over scrapbooks and how it helps her memory. I plan on my scrapbooks doing the same for me as I age.
- The kids need to decide how they want to preserve THEIR memories. I’ve decided I’ll make/finish each of their baby books with all those fun stats from their first year and photos, etc but after that I’m ‘cataloging’ not ‘scrapbooking.’ Most of the stuff is fairly organized already but I’ll add a sheet or list with important dates and names but not compose scrapbooks.
- NOBODY REALLY CARES about memories they don’t have. From the cleaning above, almost all the photos prior to my daughter being born were trashed. Even if she recognized the people in the photos, the event or memory wasn’t anything she had an emotional attachment to. This now means the box of photos I got from my husband’s mom that we have no idea who most of the people are in the photos can be trashed without guilt.
All of this thinking and talking also helped me decide the format of my scrapbooks. Other than special event books (wedding, major trips, etc) I prefer a yearly book divided by monthly calendars. I always worried how the kids were going to divide that later. I’m not going to worry about it anymore.
I’m going to scrapbook FOR ME with the knowledge these may all hit the trash pile after I move on anyway. But…I came to that decision just a couple of weeks ago. So while I have a few books in progress, all my work came to a screeching halt for several months. I don’t have the time over the next 7 days to catch up…but that’s ok. I have a completely different mindset about my scrapbooking now and one that is, frankly, liberating.
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