Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Because I have to get it out

I think about scrapbooking a lot. But I don't want to bore my husband and kids with my thoughts about the process. So I am creating this blog with the intention of being able to write about my thoughts.

Here is a post I wrote on my other blog about why I scrapbook.

As a kid and then teenager, I filled journals with my thoughts and experiences. Writing was theraputic and meaningful to me. Then I went to BYU. There was a contingent of scrapbookers in one of my wards. And immediately my streak of perversity struck. How were scrapbooks better than my journals, filled with my words and a few photos?
Then I got married and a year and half later found myself expecting my first baby. Suddenly, the camera I never used became important. And my journals–occasionally written in. Life was so busy for me. So when my first son was born, I began to scrapbook, somewhat haphazardly. I enjoyed the process of finding pretty paper, writing and adding my bad photos.
Then we moved to Sweden. And suddenly, I felt very pressed to scrapbook. I wanted to document every single detail about our experiences. I snapped photos at the supermarket, took pictures of the bus we rode and our bikes, snapped endless pictures of Lund with all its amazing and varied architecture. My children were little and I knew that memories are fleeting. So I wanted to create a body of memories that my family could refer to and trigger their own memories.
And so I began to scrapbook in earnest. Somehow in the process of documenting those details I began to process and assign meaning to our experiences. When I felt discouraged about parenting or frustrated with my kids, I could turn to cute pictures of them and feel better about what I was doing. When I felt the wanderlust bug bite me, I could turn to pictures about our adventures and relive those experiences.
When we moved to New York and embarked on a quieter phase of our lives, I found the process of creating rejuvenating and uplifting. I could create something that would be finished and never undone.
And finally, I scrapbook so that the pictures I take don’t become meaningless piles for my kids to wade through. My mother has boxes of photos. Sometimes we can place the photos and other times we can’t. It makes me sad that those photos aren’t arranged and organized. I met my great-aunt this summer and spent a day with her going through her scrapbooks and family heritage photos. She had given her photos context and meaning with her words. She had included bits from her mother’s notebooks and recipes written in her mother’s own hand. It was a veritable treasure trove for me. As she shared her stories and experiences I felt linked to my great-grandparents and past in a tangible and powerful way.
My great-aunt told me that her parents had stacks of photos that they loved going through and looking at. Sadly, they hadn’t written dates or names on the back. After their deaths, there were some people and places in photos that couldn’t be identified by any living descendent of my great-grandparents. I don’t want to do that to my children or grandchildren. I want them to feel connected to our family history and heritage.
And so I scrapbook. When my daughter asks me to tell her a story about when she was little, we pull out the 2006 scrapbook and I show her pictures of her birth and the many pictures of her, looking like a tiny porcelain doll dressed in pink. When we start wonder when an event happened, we pull out the scrapbooks and find details that we had forgotten.
I may never be a famous scrapbook designer. My pages will never be published in a national scrapbook magazine. But my family loves and treasures the scrapbooks I’ve made. I’ve given my experiences and life meaning and context in books that will last a lifetime.
I realize that not everyone has the same drive I have to scrapbook. But if you take pictures, please at least put names and dates on the backs of the photos or tag them digitally, so that your families will have context and meaning when they inherit boxes of photos or disks.

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