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Insights on business -- and life.

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Why I Scrapbook

So much more than photos and stickers.

by Stacy Armstrong, Richmond Hill, GA (December 17, 2007)

So, why do I scrapbook? Such a deep question. The answer isn't always as obvious as it may seem (and validation has no part of it). The natural inclination would be to state, "I want to preserve our family memories." And that's an excellent reason, but itís only partially the reason why I scrapbook.

Of course I love the creative challenge of it, but scrapbooks don't have to be creative Ė just informative. Goodness knows, I love pretty paper and matching the colors from different lines and then adding all those cute little "this and thats" Ė ahh, so much fun!

But that stuff just keeps me from getting bored. And no doubt I love to take photographs of my kids, snapshots and the posed portraits. Itís amazing how much you can forget in just a few short years.

My kids make me proud when they tell other people, "My mom's an artist!" Okay, so they donít know the difference between me and Renoir. They are just kids that think my hobby is pretty cool. And it makes me blush because I don't see myself as an "artist"Ė maybe a little excessively creative, a little overboard with cute embellishments sometimes Ė but I'm just a MomÖ. A Mom who knows why itís important to scrapbook.

The story of T.

I want to share a story with you about one of sonís best buddies in third grade. Sometimes I get to eat lunch with my kids at school and my son always invites one of his buddies to eat lunch with us. His name is T. T is the cutest and sweetest boy. He's so much like my own son. He loves to hunt, fish, and do all kinds of outdoor sports. He loves 4-wheelers and is dying to get a dirt bike for Christmas.

One day early this school year, my son was bagging about me and told T about how much I love to scrapbook. He did the whole "my mom's an artist" thing. T told me his mom wanted to scrapbook, but never did. I asked him why and he said "I dunno, maybe she doesn't know how?" I told him I'd give her a call and maybe we could get together someday.

Well, someday has never come and now it never will. Just a few short weeks ago tragedy struck T's home. His house caught on fire and his Mom was inside. She didn't make it out. T, his dad, and little brother were at a hunting club when this happened Ė only his mom was home. She was only 37 years old.

T is back in school and he had lunch with my son and me the other day. I couldn't help but think, "I wish T and his little brother had a scrapbook, just so they could see how much their mother loved them and have something to feel of their mother's love: her own words, her own handwriting, every little cut-and-paste made with love."

They have memories, photographs, and things that belonged to her, but its not the same as a scrapbook page Ė journaled , telling the story of their lives together.

I have peace knowing that if something were to happen to me, my kids would have scrapbooks to look at. They will know how much I loved them, how much I cherished time with them. How much family means to me. They will know all kinds of things about me, about family traditions, about themselves, and all the people who love them. And it won't matter what kind of paper I use, or if my pages were trendy, or what kind of embellishments I throw on the pages, or even if I forgot to scrap some pages. What will really matter is the story, the whole story. They will have something to touch when they are sad, something to read when they are troubled, and some of me to share with their children. No matter what, I'll be there with them with the pages my hands have made and the story my handwriting will tell.

So you see, itís not about validation or just about "family memories" that I'm preserving; it's me I'm preserving, little bits of me so I'll always be with them.

So next time anyone gets wrapped up in the injustice of a scrapbook contest, or worries about being trendy, tell them about little T and what he will never have. I'm going to remember why I need to scrapbook and why it needs to become more than just a hobby. It needs to become something I must do, kind of like a motherís homework.

I regret never sharing the joy of scrapbooking with T's mother when I had the chance. I want to share the joy of scrapbooking with everyone now. I want to tell them if they haven't scrapbooked in awhile, that they really should rediscover how much fun it is and how important it is! I would love to plant a seed that blossoms into something really meaningful. I believe whole heartedly that this is the message that everyone who loves this industry should hear and remember.

(Note: To read previous entries in Kate's Collage, click on the titles in the right-hand column.)



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