A gift for Arianna
It was my eldest granddaughter’s Bat Mitzvah, and she was opening the gift I created for her. “Grandma! This is the best gift ever! It’s even better than the $200 Grandma Betty gave me!”
Of course, I was thrilled that she liked it. I had given her a journal called, “A Grandmother’s Notes to Her Grandchild.” My mom bought the book for me when Arianna was born and said when I completed it, this would be wonderful gift for my first granddaughter.
The journal started with the history of my parents: A bit about their childhoods and how they met and married. The following pages were about my childhood: games I played, music I listened to, activities I enjoyed, etc.
Next came pages about how I met Arianna’s grandfather, where we lived, what we enjoyed and so on. After that, was information about the birth of my son, Geoffrey (Arianna’s dad). I included interesting anecdotes, fun stories and, of course, some of the trials and tribulations of his growing up years. Photos were included throughout.
Finally, Geoffrey grows up and meets Jillian. After dating a few years, they marry, and several years later, Arianna is born. This is where her baby photos start and all the “Firsts”— First tooth, steps, word and so on. There were places for photos from grade school and middle school. I included information and photos from when she took dancing lessons and then horseback riding lessons. I left the last few pages for her to fill in with photos of her Bat Mitzvah and anything she would want to include about that special event.
After looking at it and ooo-ing and ah-ing, Jillian asked me, “So, what are you going to do for Emily?” At that time my second granddaughter was ten years old. I had not given a single thought to what I would do for her three years hence. I’d spent years working on Arianna’s book and just wanted to enjoy the moment with her.
“I have no idea,” I responded to Jillian’s question. “That’s three years away.” But I have to admit, I didn’t know how I was going to top this gift.
I lamented about this to my friend, Diane. “Oh, you could make her a scrapbook. She’ll love it!” Diane said.
“Di, what do I know about scrapbooking? I’m the least artistic person I know!”
“No, you’re not! Plus, I can teach you. It’ll be so much fun. I’ve been wanting a scrapbook buddy. I’ll go with you to Michael’s Craft Store and help you get supplies. Oh, Linda, you should do this!”
True to her word, Diane and I went to Michaels. I chose a book that was green (Emily’s favorite color), a pack of background paper, embellishments and some other supplies. I started right away. One Tuesday, I packed all my supplies into the car, drove to Diane’s and went downstairs to her scrapbook workroom.
That first day, I was ready. I’d put together the photos from my past and Emily’s beginning. Everything was arranged in chronological order starting with me as a baby on my grandma’s lap. I had a very similar photo of Emily on my lap when she was about three months old. A perfect place to begin.
I went to Diane’s almost every Tuesday. She taught me so much, shared her equipment (special scissors, corner rounder, cutting mat, etc.) and I learned.
I remember telling Diane, “When I complete this book, you can have all my stuff.”
“That’s ridiculous! You’ll want to make more books for your other grandchildren, and who knows? Maybe some events in the future.”
As it turned out, Diane was right. After a year of working on Emily’s book, I realized this would be a perfect gift for anyone. That’s when I went to Michael’s and bought two more scrapbooks: one for each of my twin grandchildren who were seven years old at the time. No sense waiting ‘til the last minute! Six years later, I gave Josh and Dani their books for their Bnai Mitzvah. They truly loved this gift.
My fourth creation
One day, while power walking with my sister-in-law on one of our Sunday visits, I was telling her about the scrapbooks and how much fun they were to create. Somewhat shyly, she asked, “Do you think you could make one for me?”
“YES! I’d love to. Let’s start next Sunday after our walk. We can go to Michaels and get a scrapbook. I’ll bring some supplies, and we can start. Be sure to gather the photos you want to use.”
For the next year or so, we worked on her book every week. In the beginning, I’d lug all my stuff, but after a few pages were completed, I got a real sense of what she liked—nothing too frilly or bright. Just embellishments that were more subdued and fit her personality. That was about ten years ago. She keeps the book on her coffee table and told me she looks at it every day! In some ways, that interaction with her, and her appreciation of the book, makes it one of my favorite creations.
I’ve created a monster
About five years ago, (six years after my sister’s husband, Buzzy, had died), she asked me to help her create a scrapbook of his life for her step-daughter. Again, I had to cater to her taste. Even though I thought the book could have been so much more creative and interesting, it was her project and needed to be what she wanted. She gave it to Debbie who loved it beyond words!
And so on and so on
Since then I’ve created scrapbooks for my husband’s daughter, Meredith, as a surprise for her birthday. Stuart gave me all the photos and information. Meredith loves that book. I also made books for my children, Geoffrey and Laura for their 50th birthdays and my grandson, Nicholas, on the occasion of his marriage to Faith. My most recent book is the one I created for my youngest grandchild, Sydney, which I gave her on her 8th birthday. I intended to wait until she turned 13, like my other grandchildren. But her book is different because I wanted to include her parents, other grandparents, assorted family members and her friends. By the time I got to her eighth birthday, the book was almost 50 pages and weighed nine pounds! So, I gave it to her.
I am currently working on Volume 2 of Sydney’s next book as well as a scrapbook for my new great-granddaughter, Maryland Rose.
Of all the hundreds of pages I’ve made, my favorite is the one that I created for Sydney’s next book. It includes a photo of Dani, at age 15, when she was Dorothy in a dance program of The Wizard of Oz and a photo of Sydney in the Dorothy dress she wore for a Halloween costume last year. It’s too cute for words, so here it is!
One last thought:
Sydney has taken up scrapbooking. One afternoon, I went to her house, bringing some supplies I thought we could use to work together on her scrapbook. What a fun time! She had lots of supplies, but not all the embellishments I brought. We spent the afternoon creating pages. Sydney thinks I’m the rock star of scrapbooking.
Please leave your comments below.
Read more by Linda Miller.