What's the Big Deal about a Scrapbook, Anyway?

October 4, 2004

"I just don't get the whole scrapbooking thing." she said, eyeing my small mountain of overstuffed scrapbook albums. "It's just too much stuff...I have so many years of photos I would never catch up." her lament continued. She's not the first to say these words to me, although it still stings to be mis-understood.

I was introduced to scrapbooking in the spring of 1995 (that's another story, altogether). It was an instant attraction...Love at first cut, you might say! In the moment that I completed that very first page, I knew this would be something I would always love.

My friends disillusionment with my passion prompted me to think "What is the big deal about a scrapbook, anyway?"

What is the big deal? In it's basic form, scrapbooking is an assemblage of photos and memorabilia collaged together to preserve the stories of ones life. It's a diary or a journal, only with photos. It's a yearbook of life.

For me, a scrapbook is an illustrated love letter.

I've been a lover of the written word for as long as I can remember, mostly for personal enjoyment, but occasionally to be shared (such as with you). I am persuaded that the stories of ones life are the treasures we keep and the lessons we've learned. What better way to share those stories than in the pages of a hand-crafted scrapbook. My scrapbook is a simple book that illustrates my journey, a love of life and the loves of my life.

My friend is completely right, at least in my case. For I, too, will probably never "catch up". The difference is I don't care that I will never "catch up. In fact, I hope I never "catch up" on my scrapbook. I hope I am always adding adventures and life lessons to the scrapbook of my life.

The process of scrapbooking is something I enjoy. It combines the things I love--my family, writing, colors, art and photography. What more could a girl ask for in a hobby?

So, what's the big deal? I suppose that some would say the "big deal" is that scrapbooking has become the "in" hobby and is not a 12 billion dollar industry. Magazines, TV shows, stores, conventions all dedicated to scrapbooking... even Oprah has featured some famous scrapbook artists on her show! You know it's a big deal of Oprah's doing it, right?

Some would decry the "big deal" about scrapbooking as the ultimate in self-absorption. It's simply another avenue through which the "me generation" can make everything "all about me"! (Umm, only my scrapbook is rarely about me...mostly it's about those around me, but who's counting?)

It has been said that the "big deal" about scrapbooking is that "it's the guilt-induced hobby of today's young mothers preparing to provide proof of their perfect family life to their grown children someday" (yes, some qwack actually said that!)

I think those people have missed the point entirely.

The "big deal" about scrapbooking is that preserving the stories of a family is a "big deal". It's a gift to the future. It's a reminder of who we are and who we have been. It's a progress report of life.

Geneologists have been doing much the same tasks for centuries without nearly so much clamor. Historians have been writing histories for century, even eons, and we reveare the important of history so much that we force it upon vastly un-interested school children "lest they repeat the same mistakes".

A scrapbook is a personal history. A collection of stories, the easy and the difficult, from along the journey of the life of a family--my family. To me, that is what makes scrapbooking "a big deal".