Years ago I scrapbooked every Christmas because that’s just what you do as a scrapbooker, right? Well, not necessarily. Later, I only scrapbooked what I really felt like scrapbooking.
It turns out that I always want to scrapbook about Christmas whenever holiday season comes around! But even my holiday scrapbooking inspiration has been evolving. Lately, it’s been more about capturing certain stories — deep rooted stories, funny stories, important stories, revealing stories. I find myself wanting to scrapbook more than just one Christmas layout per year because I’m digging deeper now than I used to.
Do you feel you scrapbook the same thing over and over again every year for the holidays? Or do you avoid scrapbooking Christmas for that very reason? What if there are rich stories revolving around your winter holidays that you haven’t even noticed?
Guess what? There are!
Our winter holidays are all about family traditions. Think about the way our personalities cause us as adults to either embrace some of our parents’ ways of doing things, or to toss them away, or to allow them to evolve to accommodate the needs of our own children. Much of what we do we don’t even realize is a “tradition” because it’s all we know. It’s all we’ve seen. There are lots of rich stories to reveal from this time of year. If you don’t think you have them, you just haven’t identified them yet.
For the rest of the December newsletter articles, I will share some of my own stories, mostly as I’ve recently been discovering them while poring over my parents’ photo albums from 1967 to 1975. I had no idea that by looking through these old photos I would learn things about myself — why I do much of what I do during the holidays. Here’s the first story. I hope it makes you think of something from your own life . . .
I searched the picture on the left quite a while for a clue as to who all these presents could be for. My parents’ first child was still months away.
I had to ask her.
“Were these presents from you and Dad to each other?”
She looked at the picture, laughed, and said, “Yeah, I think so. Dad and I have always gone overboard for Christmas.”
I still couldn’t believe it, but then I took a good look at the other pictures.
- Dad trying on a bullet belt, holding a polaroid camera box in his left hand and a suitcase under his arm. He looks like he’s wading in a shin-high river of tissue, packaging, and wrapping paper.
- In another photo Mom is holding a dress (or robe?) to herself. At her feet, empty boxes are scattered around the floor, along with what looks like a rolled up sleeping bag. On the sofa the suitcase in the first photo has a mate. Above the pair is some clothing, and on a chair in the foreground is another stack of opened gifts — probably a set of stemware and more clothes. There are yet more items in the other pictures
The undeniable proof, though, is in the final picture of this set which you see in the top right photo. Mom relaxes on a chair, overlooking the aftermath of Christmas morning, eating an apple in the same relaxed and pensive way I’ve seen her eat apples my whole life.
The trash is all over the floor. There is nowhere to walk. It looks like they tore into their gifts without the slightest thought for cleanup. It’s a disaster.
This was how Christmases were for us when I was a kid but I never would have thought the mayhem to have also happened when it was only the two of them.
Even when we had a low income, my parents threw us huge Christmases! The stacks of wrapped gifts under the tree were tall and beautiful, though most gifts were not expensive and some of them were just practical — the stuff they would have bought us over the next few months out of necessity.
My parents wanted the promising beauty of a tree with mounds of presents. They wanted to draw out the main event of the holiday — exchanging and unwrapping gifts.
How do I know this? I didn’t actually ask my mom. I know because she passed this desire on to me. I remember my first Christmas with Israel. We didn’t get ourselves quite as many presents as my parents did, but we weren’t quite as practical with our gifts either. I remember how happy I was to have so many gifts under our tree. I also remember the wide eyes and comments from other couples — friends of ours — who were only exchanging one or two modest gifts with each other.
I remember being embarrassed about it, too.
Over the years Israel and I have shrunk Christmas down to a modest amount of gift exchanging that is more in line with our deeper values. Despite those values — the value of a certain level of simplicity and minimalism — these pictures of my mom and dad’s extravagant pre-children Christmas make me smile. Because I relate. And I remember.
What’s Your Story?
Thanks for letting me share my story with you! Did you relate? Or was it the very opposite from your own Christmases? Did my dad’s bullet belt remind you of your dad? Or did that blue fridge take you back to an earlier time (if you clicked on my photo and took a good look at it!)?
If you thought of one single thing from your own life while reading my story, then you have one of your own to share. In my kids’ school they call that seed writing. I tell you a story which, without fail, will always trigger a memory of some kind in your own mind. If you tell me you didn’t think of one I won’t believe you! So what’s your story? Write it down, quick. It may seem too small, but if you start writing it, you’ll begin remembering more. There’s always more to a story than you initially think.
Photos From the Paperclipping Members’ Holiday Photography Tips Course
For the holidays I’m giving our members a course in photography. I wanted to share a few that really caught my attention . . .
Shannon Van Sluytman
Melissa Stinson (scrappyjedi)
- Paperclipping Video Tutorial – Train Station Flexible Template
My Flexible Templates are some of the most favorite of the Paperclipping episodes because they give you an idea boost but still allow for a lot of creativity and flexibility in a way that sketches do not. Get this episode, plus 158 tutorials in the archives and two more every month, by becoming a member! Click here to see how it works.
- The Paperclipping Roundtable – If My Husband’s Listening
- The Paperclipping Digi Show – Extracting a Banana