Friday, January 6, 2012

Family NewYears letter (and a bunch of other rambling and thinking about the processes and purposes of preserving memories:)

There is something in my brain that says "A good mom keeps a record of her family"
I don't know who whispered this in, and while the principle in general is sound, I doubt the validity  of complexity of it's application and the additional expectations we have attached to this process. In general I have THOUGHT much more about this than I have DONE.
Does this keep anyone else up at night? My analytical brain at times gives me a headache!
During my first pregnancy, I took all our dating photos and diligently scrapbooked them. We started dating in high school (for 6 years if you count our missions, which Ben doesn't but I do) and it was before digital and so there were loads of pretty crappy, grainy pictures taken with cheap camera...but it was our genesis, and I knew from my mother's good intentioned shoe boxes full of family photos, that if I didn't do it BEFORE I started having adorable children I'd want to take pictures of non-stop, it wasn't gonna happen.
I did traditional scrapbooking (nothing fancy by any means, mostly paper as I'm way to cheap to get all the cutesy embellishments or tools that separate the "mes" with the hardcore-committees, you know who you are) for Aaron first couple years. And then I felt like it was going outta style way too fast. The paper that was oh so cute, started looking oh so cheesy. Plus I got a better camera and I was composing pictures how I wanted them, with little to cut and crop out.

I bought albums, that only one trip to Hawaii got printed out and put in, before my vision of beautiful shelves lined with chronologically organized family albums promptly died.

Selecting and printing photos just was not happening. I needed a new plan.

I live in fear of technologies becoming obsolete and all my cherished photos becoming inaccessible, like the precious genealogy both Ben's grandpas gave us...on floppy disks. 

I now do iPhoto books. I know there's better programs out there, that would let my creative juices drool a little more, but I just like having ALL my photos available, my brain's process isn't planning enough to select and upload only certain photos. 

And then I look at my amazing friends amazing blog, and wonder if I'm overcompensating with quantity  what I lack in quality
( In fact I'm recognizing I may do that in lot of areas in my life, even this blog:)

I followed a link off her blog and read a little   scrapbooks: the big picture

I love her advice:

If you are interested in being a documenter of life – or if you have already been taking pictures and/or scrapbooking for quite some time – It’s worth stepping away from your tools and supplies and computer … and just step back for a moment (or a day or a week).
Ponder these questions: What do I want the end result to be? Why am I doing this? Who is this for? What do I want to get out of it? 

So I did. I thought about it. I pulled out things I HAD done and reflected on what I enjoyed most about them. I tried to stip myself of the ideas of what I think I SHOULD do. 
It was an interesting little exercise. 
First, I decided  (having thought about the rubbermaid of school papers my mother-in-law endowed us with, after painstakingly preserving it through countless moves) If I don't wanna keep it for me, I ain't gonna do it. (Maybe when if I have daughters I'll re-evaluate this) but the concept of handing my children this lovely, complete documentation of their life-thus-far as they put on a cap and gown or embark on their wedding day...nice idea, but we're not gonna do it that way. 
I'm gonna make family photo albums that they can come to MY house and see. So there.
(even as I type this I'm thinking, I need to do a 1st year calendar for Levi, cuz I did one for Mckye!)
Because in the end, I need to own the fact that I'm doing it because I want to. I like doing it. I like taking photos and I like looking at photos I've taken. 
I've written before about this.  But it truly is a healing process for me
I way for me to to take inventory of the good, to inundate my senses with the beauty of my life, to flood my soul with appreciation and feelings of love for all those people (who may or may not have been annoyed with me pointing my camera in their face once again.)
A way to remember, but more importantly a way not to forget.
Because we do. We forget how amazing life can be. How generous it can be. How little moments can fill and make us, so gradually it's often imperceptible. 

All my many pictures, give me the big picture.
So my photos, however they end up getting stored, are my way of feeling life. 
So one day when I'm old and lonely, my worn tired hands can thumb through and feel all was as it was meant to be (even the painfully hard), and that all those moments cumulated was a good life. Cuz it really, really is. 

So one "systematic" thing I actually have done through out our marriage is a New Year letter (not a Christmas letter, way to much going on in December...what a clever way to justify being late every year eh?) Every year is shoudl be simple, but never seems to end up that way, and I consider scrapping it all together (for a fun Christmas photo card, names years done!) But before I started this blog, I felt I needed to at least annual actually write a few a highlights. Helps me keep big events and years straight (you know your getting old when!)
This years was short and sweet and (thanks to the wisdom of my editor, Rebecca) not written in the ever-awkward third person.

Some blast from the past:


Meddy said...Best Blogger Tips

Chelsea! This was exactly what I needed today on a day overwhelemed by all the projects I want to accomplish before life gets "too busy." I love reading your blog. Love you!

PS. My sister-in-law posted this on pinterest (and she didn't get it from me).

Just Rhonda said...Best Blogger Tips

Don't feel pressure!!! It is for you. And whatever you do is good.

If you are feeling like trying something new, try Becky Higgins project life. So easy. And cute.

Rebecca said...Best Blogger Tips

Man. I got the wrong message. All I can focus on is the fact that you have a family letter from every year of your marriage. I have one...and two family Christmas pictures. I am soooo not good at family record keeping....