Sunday, April 25, 2010

Time Well Spent

I knew that I liked it (major understatement!) but I did not know that Scrapbooking is the national number one leisure pastime. According to Wikipedia, where golf was the previous reigning champion, the number of households with scrapbookers exceeded the number of households with golfers starting in 2004. One in 5 households includes a golfer but one in four can now claim a scrapbooker. In the United States alone, Scrapbooking is a 2.5 billion dollar industry with over 1600 companies that make scrapbook related products. The craft originated with traditional paper pages but has grown to include an increasing number of pages and projects completed exclusively with digital products as well as hybrid creations that employ both techniques. And you’re all thinking “zzzz ZZZ zzzzz. . . is there a point to this?”. Well, yes, but I agree that these dry facts are only almost interesting to MAYBE one person in every 4th household but that it does nothing to explain the allure for those of us that are so hopelessly addicted. I can’t speak for anyone but myself. But I can tell you why it’s such a major part of my life.

My husband would tell you it’s because there such a wide range of products and events for me to spend our money on and that’s not entirely without justification. It did open a whole new world of things to buy! But that’s just a benefit – not a reason. It’s an art form of sorts and the artistry calls out to the inner child in me – the part that really liked to color when I was kid. Finding and mastering new techniques soothes my needd for change and growth. I like for my pages to look better that Sally-Sue Smugwitch’s pages so the contests and challenges to be found in the world of scrapbookers appeal to the competitive side of my nature. But, since I can and have satisfied all of those personal needs with other things, I know that they are not the reason I find it so appealing.

I’ve spent a lot time in the last 20 years with my mother on my mind. I’ve only been scrapping for three years and of course, I thought about her before I began to scrap and frequently think of her even when I’m not scrapping. But to me, she seems closest when I’m in my scraproom. What’s different about the times she’s on my mind when I’m wearing my scrap hat is that my thoughts are focused on my mother as a whole person and not just about how much I miss sharing my daily life with her or how my daughter is so much like her. In my scraproom, I see my mother outside of her assigned roles as my champion, my coach, and my protector from the storms of life.

I’m able to see her as the person she was because of what she gave me during the last year – when we knew the end was coming and we knew we couldn’t stop it. Her bequest to me wasn’t a material thing and I didn’t understand it at the time. In fact, at the time I viewed it as kind of peculiar and there were days when it made me uncomfortable. But now, maybe because of my advancing age or maybe because I’ve started scrapbooking, I’ve begun to understand what it was that she was doing during those private afternoon gab sessions. There were several times when she really came close to crossing the boundary into the land of Too Much Information (you all have or had mothers so you know how it is – I was 30 something with a very colorfully checkered past of my own but I was still reasonably certain she had never even held hands with anyone other than my father). To her credit, she never really crossed the line of propriety and there was a point to everything she shared with me. The point was that she NEEDED for me to see her as whole person and to have a glimpse of the world through HER eyes. She NEEDED for me to understand that as much as my brother and I enriched her life (her words, not mine), she was a person of depth and interests and experiences that had nothing to do with us and that it was the sum of those many parts that made her whole self. She NEEDED for me to know that the concentric circles that rippled outward from her life encompassed but were by NO means limited to her career as wife and mother.

After her death and even before I started scrapbooking, I became the keeper of the family repository of photographs. Now that I know HOW, it’s really easy for me to scrap photos of my history and my view of the history of my children and my grandchildren but it becomes increasingly more difficult for me to successfully create a meaningful page when I move backwards through the generations; especially the people she didn’t talk about. And the reason is, I don’t KNOW those people. Well, yes, I know that this picture is my paternal grandfather and this one is her twin uncles, CB and MB, but that knowledge doesn’t give me a clue about the essence that made the person. Of those that comprise my heritage, my mother alone that it was important to bridge the gap in knowledge.

She was a poet and for others in the family, especially my dad and my brother – and, as I’ve recently learned, aunts and uncles and cousins - she told them what she wanted to say in her poems but since I don’t do poetry more complex than Jack Be Nimble, she made my gift with the only other tools she had available. What she spent that last year giving me was a verbal scrapbook.

William James tells us “The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast us.” So, other than a few thousand lines of COBOL code, generated over a 30 year career, the pages that I create and compile into books are the legacy I’ll leave. They’ll be unknown and unimportant to the outside world, but they will, I hope, be enduring ways for my children and their children to look at the people that are their heritage AS people and not just really weird names on the lines of patchworked pedigree. I NEED that in the same way my mother did and I believe my children and my grandchildren also need it even if they don’t fully know that yet.


  1. This is awesome Vicki. I think you need to scrap your blogs too. That way your children and grandchild will know you better. I wish that I could've had my mom's thoughts down in print. I was just happy when I scrapped her handwriting and her printing... sigh...

    Thanks for sharing with me :)

  2. I can resonate with the way you feel about your mother. Though I have not been without for 20 years, I lost my father five years ago this month to cancer. I, too, have a special place where I can still feel him with me.

  3. this is so funny to me because I was thinking much the same things this week... I scrapbook so my children will know all the things I have felt and thought about them, about everything... I was cleaning out some closets and found a whole bunch of old yearbooks, and decided I didn't need them anymore... it wasn't until I read your blog and discussed it with Jason that the reason I don't need them is because I was keeping them for the kids... and now I have given/am giving them something ever so much better... Love you!

  4. I loved reading this Vicki. I too think of my mom so much while I am scrapbooking. She would have been my biggest fan. Sometimes I wonder if my family even knows how much love I'm putting into making each page, but I think one day they will understand why I spend so much time in my scraproom.

    xoxo Karen Lee