I hate that my favorite companies are failing.
For weeks after Borders went out of business I teared up every time I drove by the store where I spent hundreds of hours drinking coffee, writing and perusing the books. Obviously, I didn’t buy enough.
I still feel sad that our Friday night video-renting ritual at Blockbuster has been replaced by scrolling through NetFlix options on our TV. Now, another company I love is cratering. And it’s even more personal.
Last week I found about the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of one of my favorite companies, Creative Memories. My emotions have been rollercoastering ever since. I want to embrace this new, social-media-driven digital economy but I also wish the world to go back to being simpler. Less online and more face-to-face. More Creative Memories and less Amazon.
But most importantly, what am I going to do about my not-quite-finished Creative Memories scrapbooks?
For those of you who don’t know Creative Memories, it is a company that sells photo albums, pages, colorful stickers and paper, markers, organizers and all sorts of other products that help people record and celebrate the people and events in their lives. Once you start a scrapbook with Creative Memories pages and page protectors, you have to continue to use their products in that album because of the fairly complicated way the pages are attached.
I was first introduced to Creative Memories in Fort Worth, TX in 1997. I had just had my first child and a local church offered a scrapbooking class for three hours once a week with babysitting for only $15. Truth be told, I actually only went for the babysitting and ability to spend three hours with other adults. I really didn’t care what the activity was. If it was line dancing or sock knitting, I still would have gone.
But it turns out that for a somewhat creative person who likes stories, scrapbooking is kind of addictive. Every photo has a story behind it, right? And the Creative Memories consultant who ran the class brought huge bins of easy-to-use products like circle cutters and journaling templates and corner rounders. I learned to make each page different and color-coordinated with the clothes people were wearing in the photos. I learned that, for me, journaling is the most important element on the page so that my kids will know what funny things they said when they were toddlers or what happened to precede a particularly hysterical photo.
My own mother presented me with a photo album of my life at my high school graduation and it was only later, after she died, that I wished she had written on the pages so I could know more about what she was thinking or feeling when I was too little for my own memories.
I decided that as long as there was babysitting, I would keep scrapbooking and I would make detailed albums for each child I had, documenting their lives up until they graduated from high school. I will give the albums to them when they have homes and families of their own. (Boys, I hope you appreciate this!)
After moving to Dallas in 2001, I joined the local YMCA (again, babysitting) and after working out one day saw a flyer announcing a new scrapbooking club. I immediately signed up and I’ve been involved with that club ever since. The club now meets weekly at members’ houses and hosts a yearly scrapbooking retreat. Scrapbooking is nothing if not social!
Even though I don’t attend the weekly meetings much anymore because I’m determined to apply my creative juices to writing my novel, I do attend the annual retreat. I’ve kept up my kids’ albums and I’m only two and four years away from finishing. Additionally, I’ve created albums for travel, Christmas and historical family photos. I am the official family historian and I take my role seriously.
It made me ridiculously happy when my boys argued one day about what happened during a certain family event. They went back and forth with their arguments until one of them finally said, “Check the scrapbook!”
If my house were burning down, the scrapbooks would be the only thing I would care about saving, after the kids, my husband and the dog, of course. Scrapbooks are windows into the stories of our family’s life. Every time I flip through an album I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this family I have had the honor of documenting.
So, Creative Memories, thanks for helping me record, celebrate and, most importantly, be grateful for my family’s memories. I wish you the best of luck transforming into a company that can survive in today’s digital world.
In the meantime, I better go order more album pages. Scrappers only have until July 31 to order refills.