Friday, April 10, 2009

A Load of Scrap

I love to scrapbook. I can’t do it on a regular basis, but when I manage to pull out and organize all my pictures and all the ticket stubs and kids’ artwork and play programs and Mothers’ Day cards that I’ve stuck into a bag over the past couple dozen months, I pour myself into the process.

Still, I can’t help but characterize the scrapbooking hobby as existing at the intersection of visual art and narcissism. I mean, really, if I have any illusions that anyone in the coming generations of my family will spend a tenth the time poring over these gargantuan tomes as I’ve put into assembling them, I’m kidding myself. No matter how the scrapbooking industry (and it’s a monster, I tell you) tries to convince me that I’m creating lasting heirlooms for posterity, I realize that precisely archiving every annual vacation in Michigan, every elementary school carnival, every trip to every park every summer is a little… excessive? Redundant? Irrelevant?

What makes those items from my ancestors so terribly priceless is that there are so few of them. My Nth-generation photocopy of the newspaper announcement of my grandmothers’ high school graduation is a little piece of otherwise obscure history and the fact that I so strikingly resemble her (in the barely discernable photo) gives me a mysterious sense of connection to the timelessness of existence. If my kids get to re-live every event of their lives at the turn of a page, will that make them feel more connected to their history, or, ironically, less so because it loses its impact? Will my grandchildren and great-grandchildren care about the fourteenth time my kids dyed Easter eggs? Even if they get to see pictures of the other thirteen times?

Why do I scrapbook, then, if not to enrich the lives of future Fergus and Moir descendents? Or to purchase a small measure of earthly immortality? Let’s be honest: I scrapbook for ME. Because it’s fun. Because I love the look and feel of patterned and textured paper. I get excited by the way a page pulls together because that one torn piece of cardstock perfectly brings out that one spot of blue on my daughter’s skirt. When I finish a spread and pull out the photos for the next one, I get to re-experience whatever little moment I may have had with my husband or children or parents on a given day. And sometimes I look at a photo I don’t remember taking or there’s something in a familiar photograph that I’ve never noticed before and it gives the entire experience a new spin.

Are there boring pages? You bet. I won’t be sad if I never have to scrapbook another trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s so long as I live. Nothing changes except the clothes we’re wearing and frankly, carrying around a camera doesn’t do much to enhance the experience. Who knows? Maybe my scrapbooks will become more focused and meaningful the longer I do it and while my earlier books may seem excessive to future generations, that later ones will carry that sense of mystery that will make my great great great grandchildren say, “I wish she’d scrapped more.”

Meanwhile, I’ll be hauling a trunk-full of supplies up to my church so I can scrap all next week because I still haven’t finished 2007 (or anything before 2001) and, darn it, I ENJOY it! Scrap on, my friends. Scrap on!


  1. Chris ChristiansonApril 12, 2009 at 9:02 AM

    Chris Christianson likes this. Oh, wait I'm not on facebook. Keep up the good work kid.


  2. Bek, Keep scrappin'! And, might I add, you DO add to your childrens' childrens' childrens' lives b/c you are expressing love through the words and time you put into recording your family. That is priceless. Add nuggets of truth and experiences of God that you've learned and had, and your faith journey and legacy will continue, too. Keep on, sista! I can't wait to crop with you next! MEGA hugs! xoxo