EVERY family has a story
to tell, and making sure those stories last for years to come is one of
the greatest things a person can do for their children, grandchildren
and especially great-grandchildren, those often farthest removed from
the origin of the tale. But what are the best ways to preserve the stories,
the memories that make each family unique and special? And how can one
make such preservation an easy and enjoyable project, rather than a time-consuming
Scrapbooking is a popular option. But quite unlike the
scrapbooks most people remember from years past, today’s scrapbooks are
more creative and careful, and often more detailed. Scrapbooks were once
not a lot more than photo albums with napkins, ribbons, invitations and
matchbook covers thrown in, but today they are more like beautiful illustrated
journals, employing pictures, words and found objects to recreate the
emotion and the event the memory wants to preserve.
The three keywords for modern scrapbooking are creativity,
safety and journaling. You can be as creative as you like, depending on
your personality, the personality of your family, and the kind of memory
book that you want to create some people would chose to integrate
some calligraphy on a leather bound book for elegance, while others might
be more comfortable with colored pens and glittery accents for a more
whimsical look. Creativity is also in how you decide to layout the pages,
and in what kind of things you put inside the book. Let your own imagination
be your guide remember, sometimes the organization matters less
than the content!
Safety in scrapbooking refers to the safekeeping of
the materials therein, although it couldn’t hurt to keep some Band-Aids
on hand for that occasional papercut. Photographs require the safest handling,
as they can be affected by dust, light, paper acidity, fingerprints and
many other things. When scrapbooking photos, it is always best to use
acid-free papers and adhesives, and try to make sure the adhesives used
are permanent you want those pictures to stay in that book for
generations to come. When dealing with memorabilia other than photos,
try to make sure they are acid-free themselves, especially if they will
be placed on the same page as photos, or you might want to consider placing
them in Mylar sleeves, cut and sized as necessary, and then stuck into
the book. Safety should also be considered when using inks in the book,
whether for decoration or journaling a way to document the who,
when, where and why of the book’s contents. The inks you use should also
be acid free, and they should be permanent and fade-proof.
Journaling in scrapbooks is primarily done to provide
answers to the inevitable questions that will come up when people are
looking at the books years later. Label your memories let posterity
know who is in each photo, what they are doing and why. You can do this
in paragraph form, at the top or bottom of the pages, or more creatively,
like along the perimeter of the page itself, or circling pictures and
Journaling in the scrapbooks is a great way to create
artistic "small talk" about pictures and physical memories, but what if
there is more to tell? What about those stories that don’t have convenient
pictures, napkins, and matchbook covers to go along with them? For these
stories, consider writing a family history or personal memoir to pass
along to your children and grandchildren. It’s not as complicated as it
To write a personal history, start with a list of questions,
perhaps questions you would have liked to ask your own parents and grandparents.
Consider large and small events when did you first meet your spouse,
what was the first day of school like, how did you feel when your first
child was born, what was the first thing you ever bought with your own
money? The questions are endless. Note them down in a list, either by
yourself or with the help of your spouse or a relative close to your own
age, and begin answering them. You’d be surprised how often answering
one question will lead to further memories, and many more stories to tell.
Remember to keep an extra notepad handy so you can jot down thoughts,
questions and memories as they come to you, so as not to interrupt the
flow of the current tale.
You can write a personal history yourself, or in conjunction
with your spouse maybe you’d like to pass on the story of "we"
as opposed to the story of "me." Work together, creating a list of questions
how did you meet, what were your first impressions of the other,
where did you go on your first date, where did you share your first kiss?
Make two copies of the list, and then send each other off to a separate
room to answer the questions, creating a marvelous "he said, she said"
way to begin your story you can come together later in the pages,
or keep the stories separate and write the epilogue together.
If you decide to create a family history, you might
want to consider making it a family project. Start with that list of questions,
making copies for each member of the family that you would like to participate.
Give them the questions, and a loose deadline as to when you would like
them to answer them, or at least have some ideas. Next, find a time to
invite nearby relations to get together in one place, perhaps at someone’s
home for a weekend dinner, and set up both a tape recorder and a video
camera. Ideally, everyone should be seated at one large table, or at least
in a room where the camera can be placed so that everyone is seen. Have
some food, drink some wine, and let the memories begin to flow. It’s an
ideal event for a large family reunion as well.
However you decide to catalogue and preserve your memories,
be sure to let your family know what you area doing so they can contribute
their own thoughts and tales, and pieces of their own personal history.
You might be surprised what you will learn about each other, and the many
ways it can bring you closer together.