When the boys were little, I would cross-stitch a design on a sweatshirt for them. Then I was told they were too old for this, so most recently I have made hats - lots and lots of hats. In the past, I have made shirts, framed pictures of Christ, designed games and activity books for church. These projects come from a tradition that we established a long time ago of giving each child three presents under the tree. The first is always pajamas and they are able to open this present on Christmas Eve after solving the secret code of wrapping. The second and third presents vary from year to year, but one is more fun and the other is more meaningful.
This year I was trying to think of something that would be extra special and did not involve clothing. I am already anticipating that this will be the last year my family is together for Christmas under one roof for a long time. Wil will leave on his mission shortly after the holiday and Jon will be gone on his mission before Wil returns. The boys are at that point in life when they are leaving the nest and this is a good thing, but a bittersweet time as well. So all this was going through my head as I pondered what to do for Christmas this year and I was feeling the added pressure to make extra special. So that is why I opened myself up to this GREAT idea - photo albums.
What I have learned over the past 18 months is that I cannot replace everything. I have not been blessed with endless amounts of money or a time machine to do so. But what I can do is give my children memories and photos are a great way to facilitate that. Last January, I went to a scrapbook retreat and worked on an album using pictures from 2004. I was amazed how even those teenage boys spent over an hour going through the pictures and sharing their memories of those times.
When our house burned down, each one of our children had their own scrapbooks/photo albums that I had started when they were babies. Finding the parts of these albums was especially important to each one of them and we were able to find parts of all their albums. In addition, I have been blessed with amazing family and friends who have scavenged their own albums and files to find pictures of my family. Most of what I have prior to 2007 comes from other people.
I thought my little idea would not be such a hard thing to do. Pick out some favorite pics of my kids over the years from the ones we have acquired and put them in individual books. Now I have developed close to 2,500 pictures for this project - yes that number is correct - approximately 500 pictures per child. I think once I have them in front of me, I will actually be able to reduce the number for the scrapbooks, but I was amazed at how many pictures our family has, even considering duplicates due to multiple children in a picture.
All I can say is that once again my heart is full at the generosity of those around us. And to my sons who occasionally follow this blog, you will understand why your mom has periodically shut herself in her office over the next few months. Merry Christmas everyone!!!!
|We decorated this tree with simple balls and ornaments made of pictures from the preceeding year.|
This was 2008, the Christmas before Hunter left on his mission.