When I was little, one of my favourite ways to pass the time was to paste things in a scrapbook that I had received as a gift. I kept movie theatre ticket stubs, candy wrappers, birthday party invitations and the very occasional photograph (they were much harder to come by in those days, with my frugal mother acting as gate-keeper to the family camera and the expensive film inside it, limited to only 12 or 24 snapshots on each roll).
My mother kept the more grown-up version of this – the family photo album – in a style that would seem positively sparse by today’s standards. There were photographs of birthday parties, weddings, and our yearly Christmas tree. But there is nothing showing our day-to-day lives. An entire decade would only fill one album or two. Today, many children are photographed every single day of their lives, simply going about the business of being children.
I enjoy the trip down memory lane each time I look in one of these books, but how I wish I could see a picture of the small details – our end-of-summer trips to the CNE, my Andy Gibb beach towel, the fort my brother and I built on the edge of a nearby construction site. Perhaps this explains my love for memory-keeping – I have an entire desk devoted to it. Over the years, I have assembled over 30 different scrapbooks and this has only become easier with the improved quality of smartphone cameras. My (almost) grown kids still get a huge kick out of looking through the pages of our scrapbooks. And summer is a perfect time to take on a project. If you are inclined to preserve a bit of your “now” for your children (and you) to enjoy in the future, here are some ideas and tips:
• The most obvious project would be to document your summer holiday. Along with your photographs, include ticket stubs, brochures of places visited, amusement park wristbands, and other ephemera.
• If you are crossing provincial or state lines, stop and get a photo of the “Welcome” sign, with all of you in front of it!
• If you are prone to forgetfulness, set a reminder on your phone to beep at you every half hour or so to remind you to take a picture of what you are doing.
• Finish (or begin) baby books for your kids. Find all the bits and bobs you saved from their infancy – hospital bracelets, baptism invitations, locks of hair – or just print the pictures. They will love hearing the stories of when they were babies.
• If you are a camping family, create a family camping trip scrapbook of all of your various adventures. You can put the album in chronological order, or geographical!
• Put together a school year scrapbook for your children. Include school pictures, class photos, track and field ribbons, and award certificates. The best time to get on this project right after school finishes for the year.
• Plan 12 fun family activities you want to do over the summer – go to a drive-in, eat watermelon, go strawberry picking – and document all of these adventures for a Summer of 2018 scrapbook! This will keep you on track to get the most out of your summer, and you will have lots of fun memories to look back on come Labour Day weekend!
• Remember that there is more than one way to document your memories. Some of us are old-fashioned paper and glue people. But there are also many digital options available if cutting and pasting just isn’t your thing. Remember to photograph the ephemera to include, since you won’t be gluing it in the books.
• If you are living through a deployment, put together a scrapbook of all of your amazing accomplishments. Whether you have flown alone with your kids for the first time, fixed a leaky tap, moved your house on your own, gave birth alone, or any other of the myriad of things military spouses face during deployment, take pride in your successes and laugh at the mishaps!
• Take on a family project over the summer and document your progress. For example, it could be something really big, like finishing your basement or building a deck. Or it could be something smaller, like training a new puppy, taking up hiking or growing a vegetable garden. Take weekly photos of your progress!
• Include a summer bucket list in your scrapbook and photos of everything you were able to strike off the list.
• If you haven’t already, put together a wedding scrapbook. Most kids get a real kick out of these photos!
• Use rainy days to play catch up with your scrapbooks. But rainy days are also great to document as well – what does your family do to pass the time? Is it movies and blanket forts? Or do you head out somewhere like the mall or a museum?
• If you are moving this year, document the move from beginning to end. Snap pictures of the things you do to prepare – boxes going to the Goodwill; some of the “interesting” meals you concoct as you try to use up what’s in the freezer. Then take pictures from your house-hunting trip. Also document pack, load and move days. Document your trip to your new destination whether that’s down the highway or across the country. And don’t forget the unload and unpack days!
• Some people prefer to make a memory box of their vacations. Decorative boxes are easy to find at craft and home goods stores. Drop in anything from your trip that has meaning for you.
Studies indicate that memory-keeping provides a huge happiness boost to those who do it. It’s suggested that the act of remembering brings back the same happy emotions that the actual event stirred in us. And then the same thing happens when you look through those scrapbooks down the road. And whether those books are homemade or digital doesn’t seem to matter. What does seem to matter though is taking the time to do it. There are a lot of different ways to preserve your memories over the summer. Just make sure you do. Your family will enjoy these blasts from the past for years to come, and you just might get a happiness pay-off as well!