Keeping memories

It’s January, so it’s officially scrapbooking season in Wisconsin. Football is winding down [although former Packer Brett and his new team are raising eyebrows on this side of the Mississippi; might have to watch next Sunday], which means that memory-preservers are pulling out their electronic toys, their paper & sticker stashes, and getting fast turnarounds on photo-printing so they have something to crop at the weekend retreats. Those who’ve migrated to digital-only photo books  bring along just their laptops for a light-weight weekend of editing photos and designing digital pages. Although, I don’t really see many digital divas at these weekend events. Most everyone is lugging carts, bags, and boxes of photos, equipment, album supplies, music and snacks to get through the couple of days in style.

I spent the weekend on the east side of Madison in a hotel scrapbooking with 26 other women of all ages and backgrounds, united by our love of getting away for unlimited hours pouring over our pictures. As a group, we worked on all types of albums — heritage collections [how far back does “heritage” extend? 1800s? 1900s? my senior prom?], travel albums, baby albums, wedding photos, grandparents’ 50th anniversary, son’s graduation, the family’s 2009 album, gifts for coaches/relatives/teachers/grandma — as many different types of albums as there are events to remember. For this crop, I was not very organized, so brought along lots of extra things that I thought I might get to. Everything mostly takes longer than you think it will, and the hours speed by. A weekend is gone in a blink, and in no time I was lugging everything back into the house and down the stairs to our finished basement — where I could scrapbook all weekend long on my own! So why do I enjoy the weekends away? It’s the social thing with other women — the quilting bee-like interaction; sharing stories, photos, experiences… asking for advice on layouts, getting ideas just looking as someone else’s pages, going out to eat with friends you don’t see too often, and of course, doing a surgical strike at a scrapbook store to take advantage of a sale, and grab that embellishment you absolutely must have to complete the page. It’s fun. I attend these kind of weekend retreats several times a year. In addition, there are a few Saturdays where I spend 12-16 hours scrapbooking non-stop in a church basement or a hotel conference room without spending the night out. Often the event is a benefit for some worthy cause — a disease or some other type of charity fund-raiser. Scrapbooking for good causes is a feel-good experience.

And anyway, outside it’s cold, overcast, windy with occasional flakes fluttering out of the sky. What better way to spend a weekend than remembering, celebrating and writing about what happened some other time. For those of us with cameras strapped permanently to our wrists, we want to do something with all these photos. If they just sit somewhere electronically, eventually they will disappear. All those images will evaporate. Memories gone in a flash. Or just forgotten, inaccessible, lost — like the thesis on the five-inch floppy. The stories won’t be told because the images that enhance the stories will go away. Except in the case where scrapbookers have preserved photos and memories safely and lovingly — those memories will define the future’s version of everyday history.

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