Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Scrapbook

I've mentioned in the past that I scrapbook. I started it before I was married, and my initial project was going through my grandmother's albums and doing those pictures. I did not get all that far before life got in the way. Before I knew it, I was making a scrapbook for my boyfriend, who then became my fiancee. That turned into scrapping a wedding album and then a honeymoon album. Before I knew it, I had a child and there was tons more scrapbooking to do.

But life got in the way (new baby, new house, went back to school and was still working), and my pastime of scrapbooking took a back seat to everything else. Life continued and I kept taking pictures, so they piled up. About 4 1/2 years ago, I got back into scrapbooking.

I knew my time with my grandmother was limited. I tried to get all her stories from her so that I would be able to record them someday. And I realized how important it was for me to leave my stories behind. Sure, I love the "hobbiness" of scrapbooking. It is fun and relaxing. But I also see that I am leaving behind a gift for my children and grandchildren. I am leaving the gift of us. The gift of the family story. Those moments that you swear you will never forget, but somewhere along the line, you do.

Four years ago, I started going on bi-annual crafting weekends. I pack up and leave my hubby and kids for three days of bliss. I bring all my stuff and am responsible only for myself. I stay up way too late and get up way too early, just to work on my scrapbooks. Most of us who go have families and busy lives. We joke around that the weekend is all about "ME" since it is the one time we are not responsible for anyone else. We even sing the "ME" song (just repeat the word 'ME' to the tune of Beethoven's 5th Symphony, and you get the gist). Some people use the weekend to quilt or do other crafts. But I use it to scrap. I use the time to tell my story and record the important (and not-so-important) things in the lives of our family. Sometimes I get lost in the thought of the weekend itself, rather than what my mission is there. I look forward to these weekends so very much. They provide me with a respite from my life. There is good food and good people. People whom I had never met before are now considered friends because of the time spent on this retreat. We laugh until we cry, or pee a little. Or both.

Last January while on my retreat, I worked diligently on the scrapbook from our Disney vacation the previous summer. It had been our first trip, and I took over 500 pictures (although not all made it into the scrapbook). I wanted to capture the magic that our trip had been. I think I did, and am very proud of the scrapbook.

Besides being a wonderful memento of our week, that scrapbook has had a collateral effect. People I know were considering taking a trip to Disney. They were planning a 3-generation trip (kids, parents and grandparents), just as our trip had been. They had been hemming and hawing about the trip, and something had always gotten in the way of their actually planning and going. In discussing Disney, I whipped out (ok, lifted carefully, as that sucker is about 6" thick) my Disney scrapbook. They were able to look through the book and see all the who, what, when, where's and how's of the trip. After looking at the album, they decided they had to book their trip, and did so shortly thereafter.

They went on their trip this past summer and had a wonderful time. We saw all their pictures and discussed the parts of the park we liked when we were last together. Now, unfortunately, one of that group has become very ill. It is a grave situation with a poor prognosis. If their trip had not happened this past summer, it never would have happened. The time for that opportunity is gone, just like that.

Now, I know that they had been talking about it, and considering it. But I also know that the work that I put into my book helped them decided that NOW was the time to go and that they had to do it then. I have always considered my weekend retreats a gift to me, and my scrapbooks a gift to my kids. I now know that in some small way, my work had an impact on this family. I am so grateful that they had that magical week together, especially in lieu of the bleak prognosis.

I am heartbroken for them (and for us). Someday, when it is less painful, I hope the pictures from their Disney trip can make it into an album so their story can be shared, generation after generation, as well.

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