I don’t know about all of you, but I pulled in a really spectacular haul of presents this holiday season. Partially, this is because my birthday is on the first of the year, and we had to celebrate Christmas late, so it all got rolled together. But… the other part of it is that I am related to some really spectacular gift-givers.

Now, I have some pretty limited storage space in my personal living quarters. So an influx of books and goodies presents a delightful conundrum. What to do? WHat to DO?

Tidy, purge, repack. That’s what.

In the ‘tidy’ part of that routine, I found some old scrapbooks. And, if I’m honest, that’s when my system started breaking down. Now, I don’t particularly like scrapbooking, but I love looking at scrapbooks I’ve made. In looking through them, smiling and reminiscing, I realized that I hadn’t stickied a picture to fancy paper in over three years.

Sure, I’d saved some scraps in snippets of things to scrapbook, but they’d just been stashed away in a box – boring and unorganized, without an inch of washi tape to be seen.

So I naturally tried to catch up in one day. I couldn’t quite manage it, but I got close.

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I laid everything out on the dining room table. I sorted things into a roughly chronological order, and I got to work with my fancy paper, tape, and scissors. I smiled at notes left by friends, the thanks were given in crumpled pieces of paper, and pictures of moments I had forgotten.

My style is photo-heavy, caption-minimal, somewhat chaotic, and all of it is held together by washi tape and the plastic sleeves of the book.

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And as I began sliding the years into their new slots, I realized one very important thing:

A LOT OF GOOD THINGS HAPPENED TO ME OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS.

See, we don’t tend to take pictures of the breakdowns on the bathroom floor or the tears shed in the pantry – the heartbreak belongs in a journal. Sometimes that means we characterize the sad times as ‘bad years’. I’ve never tried scrapbooking sad things… mostly because washi tape is inherently happy and my pictures tend to be colorful and upbeat. The good big things gotta go into a scrapbook, but the big bad things are hard to capture through a lens most of the time.

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And you know what, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. There’s enough pessimism and disappointment in the world; I don’t need a brightly decorated version of that – emphasizing the negative. My brain does a nice enough job of that all by itself, thank you very much. But I think it is immensely valuable to have an explosion of delight and accomplishment set down on paper to remind us that we can be good, we can be successful, and we can be happy.

That’s what I learned when I tried to catch up on 3 years of neglected scrapbooking in one afternoon.

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