I have an obsession with creating photo books. It started when my son was born. I was living in Australia and I wanted to share my son’s milestones with my mom back in the States. I created a simple photo yearbook with a couple of photos for each month that I thought were important. That simple 20-page book has now morphed into a 100-plus page annual yearbook, organised by month, with one double page every month for each kid. I even write about the major events at the start of each month! This obsession also includes making 60-100 page photo holiday books, capturing every moment of our family holiday travels. I’m telling you all this because I am now under a deadline to use my PhotoBox credit before it expires in February! The whole stress of it all got me thinking about why I do this and if I’m the only one.

I don’t have many photos of myself growing up. They’re mostly school photos. In America, we had our photo taken every year, so I have a progression there, but not many of our holidays or of my daily life. And I can’t seem to remember much. I grew up on a cul-de-sac in a town outside Boston and remember playing with the neighbourhood kids. We’d play kick the can, have water balloon flights, and ride our big wheels over the ramps we built. Yes, I’m that old! And, of course, I remember having a cheeky kiss with the boy up the street in the local field. But besides those major thematic memories, I can’t remember the exact scenarios. I’m sure there are many reasons why these memories aren’t strong, but I wish I could go back and at least have a peek into what my life was like back then. So, when my son was born, I had this sort of obsession to make sure his life would be captured to help him remember or reminisce later on.

It’s been 14 years since I started this project and a lot has happened, including the arrival of his sister. I remember thinking to myself, I have to take even more pictures now because I don’t want her to feel left out! The annual yearbook project has now become an annual stress for me during the month of January to “close out” the year to be able to move on. But as much as I may stress and spend my weekends uploading photos and formatting the book, I can’t help but think the kids will love that I saved their memories for whenever they’re ready to recapture them. My daughter especially enjoys looking at the previous years to remember what was important and the funny experiences we’ve had.

Even though the project was originally meant to share our life with Grammie, who lived on the other side of the planet, it has become an important documenting process for me. My kids do look back at the books, but it’s me who relives the moments when they were little. Childhood amnesia takes those memories from all of us. It’s me who reads the notes of what we did and smiles at the crazy stages of childhood. Life is all about stages, except when you’re living IN it, it’s hard to know when one stage ends and another one begins. Only when I look back, can I see those stages and appreciate what we all experienced. It has become my way of saving memories for my husband and kids, but mostly for myself.

What do you do to save your memories? Do you have a special box for things to go into? Do you write in a journal? Or are you like me and make photo books too? Feel free to email me at beth @ bethelee.com and let me know. I’d be keen to hear what other strategies you use to remember special times.

I’m off to upload more photos!


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