Monday, January 21, 2013

Sic transit gloria scrapbook

My late mother was the ultimate scrapbooking machine --- long before entire shops were devoted to scrapbooking supplies and there were classes in what now is classified as a craft (or, optimistically, an art).

During the course of a scrapbooking career that covered roughtly 60 of her 80-plus years, she produced hundreds --- many within commercial covers available at five-and-dimes. But no scrap of paper that was punched for a notebook, could be punched or was spiral-bound and could be pasted upon was spared.

These fell into categories --- recipes (thousands and thousands of recipes); contemporary history (every issue of the Chariton newspapers and, occasionally The Register, was processed); and "pretties" --- colorful pictures clipped from magazines, calendars and greeting cards supplemented by printed material that she found interesting or inspirational. There also were (and are) family scrapbooks, some filled with photographs, others with clipped obituaries and funeral folders dutifully brought home from a lifetime of last rites. I'll hold on to many of the latter for now.

But I've been recycling the last of the former lately as part of an effort to streamline and more will go. If that distresses you, just avert your eyes. These have been stashed in cardboard in the back of closets or in plastic in the garage. I've glanced at each, giving it a little of the respect it was due, then out the door it's gone.

In fairness to myself, my mother was not sentimental about these scrapbooks. One advantage to life in the country is the ability to burn at will and she had cremated many over the years. All of the contemporary history scrapbooks were burned when she decided everything in them was available on microfilm or digital formats or in official repositories. Her scrapbooks full of decorating ideas from the 1940s and 1950s disappeared during the 1970s and the 1980s.

Recipe scrapbooks were the most likely to survive, although the recipes she actually used were carefully copied onto cards and boxed or distilled into slim handwritten volumes identified as "recipes I use." But apparently she felt recipies for such dishes as concord grape compote with raspberry Jello and horseradish sauce might come in handy some day.

For her, scrapbooking was just a pastime --- something she did to relax, along with gardening, cooking, reading and fine needlework. She had a lot of time but little sentiment invested.

I think it's great that scrapbooking has been elevated to an art form --- and if you're engaged in it, wonderful. Enjoy the process. Just don't delude yourself into thinking that your kid is going to want his first report card (or a representational selection of kindergartin refrigerator art), no matter how prettily packaged. Or into believing that the local historical society or genealogical society will offer a home to scrapbooks your children spurn (none have sufficient room or staff to cope).

Truth be told, when you've passed to your reward and the big dumpster is parked in what once was your driveway, most of the scrapbooks, no matter how elaborate, will go. Sic transit gloria scrapbook.

No comments: