Remember the time my nieces Ella, Grace and Sarah attended the father-daughter Girl Scout dance and walked into the fortune-teller’s tent — and found me, Madame Zonia, filling the role?
How about when Grace’s graduation party and her sister Ella’s participation in the state track and field competition conflicted? A group of party attendees gathered around the TV to watch the streaming contest.
Or all those times the kids made Christmas cookies, Easter eggs annd crafts?
Ten to 12 years ago, I started putting together small (6-x-6) scrapbook pages as birthday gifts for the children of my three younger siblings. They age out at 18, and Ella — the fifth of seven such kids — turned 18 last month. Her final pages from me included one with her senior photo and another of her and Grace in masks and scrub caps on a day in April when they helped an Indianapolis medical company package coronavirus test kits.
Just as I had started to include discussion of the pandemic in my ife stories classes in March — a week before that pandemic abruptly ended those classes — the virus also is represented in the scrapbook pages.
I have a photo of my youngest niece (an eighth-grader, so I have a few more years of page-making ahead of me) paticipating in an April parade at one of the local nursing homes, all of which had closed their doors to visitors. Tori painted more than a few posters for the event, and she holds one displaying a cute Holstein and the words ”Holy cow, I miss you!!!”
For my third niece for whom I am still making pages, her father texted me a photo of her on the couch wih her school-issued computer, spending one of many days at home e-learning.
Without realizing it, I have long known that scrapbooks fulfill many of the same purposes as written life stories, including serving as memory books, record books and history books. Since the pages I make are specifically for kids, though, I avoid any photos that instantly would bring up sad memories.
That doesn’t mean death and illness can’t be represented. When I was about to lose my hair to cancer in 2015, a 12-year-old Ella helped me make my way through online vidoes of innumerable ways to wear a headscarf. We laughed a lot that Sunday morning as we both modeled our new ’dos — and she has a scrapbook page to remind her of it.