Nearly everyone I know scrapbooks. When she had her first baby, my sister-in-law scrapbooked the living daylights out of that event, complete with stickers of baby bottles and pink rattles and bows and whatnot. My sister, a kindergarten teacher, makes about 40 scrapbooks a year for the kids in her classes. Each child gets one complete with pictures of every field trip and event from that year.
I actually used to work for a company that manufactured scrapbooks and scrapbook accessories. I, along with my boss, ran focus groups on scrapbooking, compiled data on scrapbookers and licensed artwork from the people who actually drew the pictures of bottles and rattles and ribbons and bows.
None of that is why I hate scrapbooking.
This is why.
When people scrapbook, they take away from their pictures and add pictures from a can. I don’t mind the stickers and such–I think they’re fun. I collect stickers. What I mind is the cutting away of the context for each memory. It’s rare to see a scrapbooker use the entire picture. They’ll use fancy scissors to excise baby or grandma from the background and then paste baby or grandma into a book. Meanwhile the rest of the picture–the nursery or Grandma’s kitchen–winds up in the trash.
When I look at old family photos now, I’m endlessly entertained by the backgrounds and the extra memories they spark. As great as it is to see my sister as a baby, I’m also captivated by the picture of the bathroom in which she is being bathed. The old yellow tile, the gilt-edged mirrors and that old soapdish which broke years ego elicit a thousand more memories of my past. Those pictures are a gateway to movies in my mind.
What is important to you now as you scrapbook this vacation or that holiday is the person. Yes, that person will be just as important 25 years from now. But you’d be surprised at how touching you’ll find old wallpaper now painted over or trees since chopped down.
I don’t like scrapbooking because it further edits memories in the context of the present. It throws future treasures away.