On Creative Memories, Scrapbooking And Gratitude

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I still feel sad that our Friday night video-renting ritual at Blockbuster has been replaced by scrolling through NetFlix options on our TV.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.

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The album I was working on at the last scrapbooking retreat in January.

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.

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20 thoughts on “On Creative Memories, Scrapbooking And Gratitude

    • Yes, I have a Michael’s and a JoAnn’s and there is plenty of scrapbooking and crafty stuff there. Plus my scrapbooking group is always finding new sources for crafting supplies. But just because I started with Creative Memories I feel a little sad. I’m sure I’ll get over it and adopt a new photo album system one of these days. Etsy is also really cool. I love browsing there. Thanks so much for your comment!

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  1. Oh I loved Borders too! It was my fav bookstore ever. It always did seem like quite a massive undertaking though. There was no other bookstore like it and probably for a reason (sadly). And I’m guessing that Creative Memories is being replaced by online digital photo books that get sent to your home all nice and printed. At least they can’t put exercise online! Whatever would we do for babysitting? hehe

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  2. I cry when that happens too. These companies/stores hold some of my cherished memories, and once they’re gone, I stop living the memory and just…well, remember.
    Good luck on your scrapbooks:)

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  3. I have to agree. It saddens me that the world is moving so quickly. I watch my children (& others) growing, moving, & adjusting to this technology life SO RAPIDLY.. I cannot help but feel like although they seemingly have everything (at their fingertips), that they really are missing Out On Soo Much!! I had NO Computer growing up. A pager in my twenties. Didnt even have a cell phone until my mid twenties! Theres just too much to be seen and touched, rather than “googled”… I miss the mom n pop stores of my past. I dont eat out. If we do: its only at a mom n pops. I believe in supporting the long-standing community rather than the “newly made cold robots”(i call the cold big co’s).
    In any case, we must adapt I suppose and we will; or at least attempt in leading the children in a well “lit” direction. Thank you for this very well explained. I feel your pain.

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    • Thanks for your comment. I guess we all have to adapt but I still sometimes feel like rebelling against technology and corporate greed. But then I find myself writing on my computer at Starbucks. 🙂

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  4. Oh I know that feeling! When we first moved to AZ I found a wonderful, stupendous, had everything I could ever want, yarn store called Craftmart! They closed three years after we moved here and I still mourn its loss 😦

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    • That’s so sad! I hope you have found a new yarn store. A woman in Dallas just started this cute little yarn store near me and three years later it’s still here. Now you’ve inspired me to go in there and find a new project. I love knitting even though I’m pretty bad at it and have a short attention span that makes my projects short as well!

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      • CTMH is releasing CM compatible page protectors that fit strap hinge albums beautifully on Feb 1. They are $ 19.95 for 25 protectors which is a great value. You can also trim the bindings off the left and right edges and use then to cover your existing CM pages. Let me know if you would like a sample. I’ll send it to you for free to try out one. Hop on over to my website and use the contact me link to email me if you are interested. http://www.LHarris.CTMH.com

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  5. Just stumbled upon your gratitude note above, and couldn’t help but comment on how much I agree with you. I too favored Borders over Barnes and Noble, those blue and yellow dvd holders from Blockbuster over online video renting, and traditional scrapbooking to digital. You’d think with all the purchases die-hard fans like us have made, companies such as these would have been solvent for years! Glad you haven’t stopped scrapbooking though – neither have I. Although, it’s sad to see so many consultants no longer continuing their all-day crops, or offering products and a chance to interact with other scrapbook enthusiasts. I hope the emerging company that CM will become will be as engaging and inspiring as the original. Best of luck with your books!

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  6. I stumbled on your page tonight and love your post. I’m worried about our local stores as well and even consultant run businesses. I support my local scrapbook store as much as I can even though I’m a scrapbooking consultant. Creative Memories will be missed. They really created what we know as classic scrapbooking. Did you get enough CM pages before July? Close to My Heart has come out with strap hinge compatible page protectors. They’ll fit in the cover sets just beautifully once you’re out of pages. Or they can be trimmed to be page protectors for the pages you already have. Message me or find me on my blog if you’d like me to send you one to try out. Here’s a pic of what they look like: http://lharris.ctmh.com/Retail/Product.aspx?ItemID=7712&CatalogID=2188

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