One of our newer TightKnit users sent me a story she wrote, suggesting I could share it on our blog. I LOVE this story! And here it is…
My sister was giddy when I opened a big flat gift from her a few Christmases ago – so excited she could hardly sit still. It was funny to watch her. She was giggly and smiling and maybe a little anxious as I carefully unwrapped it.
What did I find inside?
It looked like a photo album with a picture of my mother as a little girl on the front. At first I thought she had given me a… well, a photo album. But it wasn’t a photo album at all. It was a scrapbook.
As I paged through it, I saw carefully captioned photos and little decorations on each page (that’s how I knew it was a scrapbook). She had gone through her box of old family photos and crafted this masterpiece for me.
A picture of my mother at about age 4, laying on her tummy sort of under the Christmas tree in the house she grew up in. “Waiting for Santa” was the caption. I don’t remember ever seeing that photo before.
Wedding photos from my parents wedding. Photos of us as little girls. Pics of other branches of the family. Even pics of my daughter when she was a baby. Each beautifully captioned. Each page beautifully decorated.
What a treasure.
I looked at every page, right there on Christmas morning, and then I set the scrapbook aside to open another gift.
The next gift I opened was from my daughter. It was also large and flat… and guess what it was? ANOTHER scrapbook! My daughter had ALSO created a scrapbook – again, lovingly created, carefully captioned, adorably decorated. This was mostly pics of her, and her son, and her father and me. So wonderful, and so appreciated. What’s funny is that my sister and my daughter did NOT conspire – they were each surprised by what the other had created.
I loved them both. And now I had two treasures – two wonderful bits of joy, each capturing portions of my life and my family history. What wonderful gifts.
Later that day, I looked through them both again. I loved them. And, as we started putting the house back to normal after a lovely Christmas celebration, I found myself wondering what to do with them.
We aren’t coffee-table-book people. We do have a coffee table, but it becomes a cat bed (with the addition of a nice fuzzy blanket), and a footstool, and a bit of a catch-all for whatever is happening in the house at the time.
While we ARE book people, we only have one bookcase on the first floor of our home, and its shelves would not handle anything as large as the scrapbooks I had been given. So, upstairs to my study, to the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves we went. And the only shelves that would safely store these scrapbooks were the bottom shelves. So onto a bottom shelf the scrapbook went.
I confess. I have not once, in the five or six years since those gifts were given, pulled them out to page through them. I have not once thought about pulling them out to look at them. I think I may have thought of them once or twice, but… well, maybe not. Maybe I even forgot they were there.
At the very top of those bookshelves are several photo boxes. You know, the ones you can buy at Michaels that are sort of like shoeboxes? Yes, there are six or seven of those up there. I bought the boxes to make it easy to store the photos I had taken through the years – and the number of times I’ve been back into those boxes since I moved all of the photo envelopes into them I can count on two hands.
Of course, photos don’t come in envelopes any more. They’re on our phones, in our Facebook timeline, on our computers – all digital. And when I want to find a photo, I look first in all of my digital files to see if it is there. Frankly, if I don’t find what I want in my digital repositories, I don’t go looking for albums and scrapbooks and boxes. I just move on – making a mental note to myself to go find the photo when I get time to do it.
Right. Like I have ever remembered to do that.
I love the photo history I have stored away – but the operative term is “stored away,” isn’t it? It’s so easy to forget what is there. And, while it’s wonderful to know that I could sink into that comfy chair in my study and page through the scrapbooks or look through the photo boxes, the fact of the matter is that I almost never do that.
Recently, I asked my sister if she had a picture of our grandmother, and she mentioned that there would be one in that scrapbook she had made for me. Oh, right.
So up to the study I went. I found the scrapbook with little trouble – though I was dismayed to see that the clear cover that was over the cover photo on the front had crumpled up – I still don’t know why. I found the picture of my grandmother and scanned it in so I could use it for what I needed. Yay me.
I tossed out the crumpled clear protective cover, and then, after paging through the scrapbook once more, I returned it to that bottom shelf.
I didn’t get out the scrapbook my daughter had made for me. Now, as I write this, I feel guilty that I didn’t do that.
But, with that said, while there’s a certain pleasure to be realized by sitting by yourself looking through the family history, it’s also a very… dare I say?… lonely endeavor. These pictures have stories – and those stories are best shared with others. What I would really love to do is gather the family around the dining room table and pull out ALL of the pictures.
Yeah, I didn’t tell you that I also have a trunk filled with REALLY old family photos. Photos from generations back. Photos of people I can’t even identify – and all the people I could ask about them are no longer with us. (Darn it! Why didn’t I ask my mother when I could?)
Pulling out that scrapbook to find a photo of my grandmother that I could scan and share with one of her former neighbors is what inspired me to join TightKnit. Thinking about those boxes of photos – and that TRUNK of photos on the third floor of my house has inspired me to join TightKnit and double my efforts to find the email address of far-flung family members to invite them to join as well.
Maybe they will know the identities of some of the people I cannot identify. Maybe they will have photos I have never seen of my grandparents, and their parents, and my mother as a little girl.
Maybe they will have family stories that I can share with my daughter and my grandson. Maybe, by doing this, my daughter won’t look at a trunk full of photos after I’m gone and sell them at my estate sale (or throw them away!).
Maybe I can get the family history off of the dusty bottom shelf of the bookshelves upstairs, out of the boxes, and out of the trunk – and into the family conversation.
And, as for those scrapbooks? I will take digital photos of each page, then I will carefully remove the photos and scan them so they can become a part of the family legacy that I wish to leave behind.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this story as much as we have!
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