Thursday, May 22, 2008

A (Nearly) Finished Scrapbook

For the past several months I have been working on a scrapbook with my mother-in-law. I think we began it last August - but took a long break from October to January. It's been a long project, to say the least. And we finally reached the joyful moment of putting the finished pages in the album last weekend. Just in time.

The scrapbook is actually a gift for Ryan's youngest sister, Steff, who is graduating from high school at the end of May. It's tradition in their family to prepare a scrapbook of the graduate's 18 years of life and present it on graduation day. I was called in to help with the project because Steff was the scrapbooking queen for her older brother and sister, and there are no younger siblings to carry on the tradition for her. It actually worked out well because I love to scrapbook and I really love my newest little sister.

It's been such an interesting project for me to work on. First of all, I've spent a lot of time in cahoots with my mother-in-law. I am so thankful that we get along really well! We've had a lot of fun shopping at the huge scrapbook store for colorful papers and stickers and sifting through boxes of old family photos. I've tried to keep her motivated and on track and she's let me take charge of organizing the project. We've spent countless hours together in the basement pouring over stencils, scissors, and adhesives with old chick flicks on tv keeping us company in the background. In the last year I've spent more time with her than any of my other girl friends!

Secondly, it's quite intriguing to piece together a scrapbook of someone else's life. I showed up in Steff's family about six years ago and have my own perspective on her life from that time. Until 2002, however, it's mostly unknown to me. How are you supposed to pick out the most important memories for someone else? But it's been fun to delve into her life, to see pictures of her growing from a baby into a young woman. So, I just picked my favorite pictures and went crazy on the page design.

Third and finally, I've realized that this project really is a labor of love. There was a moment a few weeks ago when the thought suddenly occurred to me that I would not be the owner of the pages I had so painstakingly created. As an artist, it was a sad moment to know that I was giving away a piece of myself, never to return. But as a sister I was able to embrace the sacrifice because my love for Steff is so much greater than my selfishness. And I knew that of all people Steff would understand the nature of my gift.

She graduates in 8 days. The 2 volume album contains over 120 total pages. There are only 3 pages yet unfinished. I've spend almost every weekend for the last 4 months pouring over this book. But most importantly, I've gained more than I've given - in relationships, self-sacrifice, and introspection. Now it's time to begin the work on my own scrapbooking projects!

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