As 2020 came to a close, I realized that, in one of the craziest years in American history, I had lost the importance of preserving memories on paper. Like many people, I have a bazillion photos on my phone that I haven’t printed and that take up space. Some of them are several years old. I can’t help but feel I’ve missed out on an opportunity to document some of those moments.
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To you as a reader, that may not seem like such a big deal. This year, though, I feel this urge to put my memories, thoughts, and feelings on paper. Not on a blog in cyberspace, but on paper for my family to reference in the future. I want to be that person who can say, ‘Remember when?’ and actually have an accounting of that time. It’s sad to think that technology affords us the convenience of capturing moments but we don’t often take the time to tell our stories.
It’s overwhelming to have the blank slate of an empty album in front of me, but I need to start somewhere.
The Importance of Journaling
Maybe it’s due to the fact that aging has made me a tad more introspective. However, when my Dad talks about his time over in Germany in the early 1950s, his stories are shared verbally and paint a vivid picture. Although he has some photos, he didn’t journal about his time there. It’s not that his stories aren’t amazing, because some of them truly are. But writing them down ensures the memories live on for future generations, beyond the spoken word.
I’m blessed to have a letter from my mom that she wrote to me before she passed away. It’s so special, and not just because it’s in her handwriting. It also expresses her desire to share her innermost feelings and wishes for me. I have some cards my daughters gave me when they were little girls that are equally special. The voice in them is sweet, optimistic, and loving. Who wouldn’t want to keep those?
And, believe it or not, I have my Hello Kitty diary from when I was a young girl. It’s good to read some entries now and then and get a good laugh at my ten-year-old self.
This year, as a bigger project that ties into resolutions I made this year, I’m wrangling up as many photos as I can to print and write about. Some will just list the where, who, and what, and others will have some deeper musings.
Family Photo Frustration
If you’ve been around my blog since its inception, you probably know I have sincere love for old things. I’ve pined over antiques since my early teenage years! When I’m antique hunting, there is nothing sadder to me than coming across boxes of discarded family photos. I can’t help but think of all those stories just tossed aside. Matt and I both have some old family photos that are really cool to look at, but we really don’t have the narrative of their time and place. It’s sad and frustrating to go through albums and admit we don’t even know who some of the people in the photos are, like this one.
I know this is a photo from my grandparents’ wedding, and I imagine these are great aunts and uncles, but who is who? As relatives pass away, the opportunities to get the answers are all the slimmer. No wonder ancestral searches have become so popular! And all the more reason to understand the importance of preserving memories for yourself.
How to Get Started
I used to scrapbook constantly when our daughters were babies and toddlers. It wasn’t a cheap hobby, but Matt and I both agree that those scrapbooks are precious. I admit I have no desire to scrapbook to the extent that I did back then with all of those stickers and cutouts and borders. However, this year I resolved to start printing photos from vacations, life events, and other meaningful moments. I’ll be taking some time to write some sentiments about them, too. Now, more than ever, the importance of preserving memories rings true. If anything, I hope it brings context to those memories for me in my older years, but also for the future generations of my family.
I’ve done some homework for you. Below are links to the albums with a good amount of photo and journaling space. These each hold hundreds of photos and PVC-free plastic covers will keep your photos fade-free.
I hope this post has inspired you to document your adventures from the past and all of those the future holds!