June 8, 2011

Documenting Life

I started scrapbooking about six years ago after a friend of mine introduced me to it. We took a beginners class together and I was hooked. I loved the colourful papers, the fancy embellishments and making pretty pages. My first real project was a Christmas gift for my mom, an album full of layouts of our family through the years. At the time, I just thought it would make a nice gift, something she'd really enjoy. Of course, it was, but I quickly came to realize that, for me, scrapbooking is much more than creating pretty pages. It is capturing the stories, the memories, the moments of life on a page, preserving them for the future.

Just think about all the stories of your own childhood that remain untold to you because they've faded or blurred in the minds of your parents as time passed and lives changed and everyday got busier. Think of the stories of your parents' childhood that you never heard because your grandparents have passed or have aged. First words and favourite toys, daily routines and holiday traditions, quirky habits and traits passed down from generation to generation. When I scrapbook, that's what I want to tell - the stories of our life.

Even before Hudson joined our family, I knew scrapbooking was my way of ensuring my children and their children know their family history. Yes, photos alone can preserve history, but not as completely, not as richly. Photos usually remain unmarked and undated, so once the owner of the photo is gone, so are the details. And in today's electronic world, it's worse as photos rarely make it out of the computer and/or are lost with a keystroke or a hard drive crash. Don't get me wrong, I love photo albums and make it a point to print pictures and put them in albums as I simply can't scrap every picture I take. But scrapbooking takes those special memories, be it celebrations or the simplicity of everyday, and tells the full story behind the picture.

Proof I keep albums and albums of photos that are not scrapbooked (yet ;)

When I first started scrapbooking, I was more interested in whether the papers matched, whether it was in line with current trends, and whether each element was perfectly put on the page. Now, I'm more interested in making sure the story is told as I know years from now, Hudson won't care whether I've found the perfect shade of blue paper or if I used a flower instead of a butterfly or if the pictures are aligned exactly straight. What he'll care about is reading about his childhood, his parents' month-long vacation in Europe years before he was born, our wedding and, more importantly, our marriage and our family. This post on Write.Click.Scrapbook early this week reminded me of that.  

Right now, I too have a stack of unfinished projects. I have pages in progress waiting for the "right" finishing touch. Right now, I don't have nearly as much time as I'd like to do this hobby I love. Right now, I'm reminding myself that it's ok if it's not "just right" and it's ok if it's a work in progress. Right now, I'm reminding myself to instead jot notes and blog and take pictures. Right now, I'm reminding myself to make just a little time here and there so the stories of today won't be lost tomorrow. 
I think we should all do this in some way. Whether it's a blog, a journal, photos in albums, videos, scrapbooks, whatever form suits your life, there is such value in documenting your life. Already, I watch my three year old nephew flip through the album I made for my mom. I hear him say "that's my mommy as a baby" and "that's my mommy at a party, she's pretty" and it makes me smile. I know someday (too) soon Hudson will be doing the same thing and that makes me smile even wider. And that, my friends, is why I document life.

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