Thursday, January 10, 2008

Memory Book Project

As I mentioned earlier, before Christmas I was busy working on a “secret project”, which was really a gift for my grandmother. My grandfather passed away in January last year and this was our first Christmas without him, so I wanted to do something extra special for Gram. I got this idea from my older daughter, who is constantly doing projects – each week she is on a different kick. Currently she is in a writing and illustrating phase – she creates her own books almost daily (I’m trying to recycle paper from work instead of throwing it out, because the child could easily take out a small rainforest with her paper consumption!). But, before Christmas she was doing what she called “Mommy & Me” books and she would make little books from one dolly to their “mommy” dolly, recounting some special memory of time spent with the “mommy” dolly.

My parents, who take turns watching my girls while we are working (God bless them!), are frequently recruited to participate in her projects, and I think it was when she made my father put one of these books together for his mother, that I thought, “What a great idea!” I enlisted help from all of the members of our family – great grandchildren up to Gram’s four children, and I asked spouses and soon-to-be spouses to join in as well. I asked each person to e-mail me a little write-up of a few of his or her favorite memories of time spent with Gram, and to send any pictures they would like to share, as well.

I gathered up all of the stories that the family sent me and then I found pictures that would go with each person – black and white photos of my dad and his siblings growing up, pictures of my cousins and I when we were younger, family wedding photos, etc. I scanned these in and inserted them into the write-ups. I wrote up a cute little story from my toddler about her great grandmother, and my older daughter wrote out her own memories in her handwriting and she also drew some pictures. Once I had the whole book – with memories from everyone in the family – I printed it all out and put it into a binder that would be easy for Gram to flip through. I even added a cover page that had a picture of the whole family that my father took on Mother’s Day this past year. We gave it to Gram on Christmas Eve at our annual family celebration, and a few of us were even brave enough to read our stories out loud to her in front of the family. I could tell that she really loved it and I was happy to have taken the time to make it for her.

It took some time to gather all of the stories, but I think it’s a great idea for a gift for anyone, at any time! Also, you can make it as simple or elaborate as you’d like – if I were into scrap booking, I could have gone crazy with this!

I am thrilled that Gram enjoyed this, but I have to say that it turned out to be just as much of a gift to me as it was to her – I had the opportunity to read some great stories that I had never heard before! The time my grandmother drove my dad and his date to the prom, got pulled over for having a broken taillight and was let off without a ticket, but in her nervousness, she ended up backing into the police car! My father was mortified, needless to say! And the story of my grandfather taking my cousin out “to the bank” but going to Dunkin’ Donuts instead and swearing my cousin to secret about the 2 donuts he (Grandpa) would eat! There were some really funny memories and some really touching memories and sentiments and it was such a special gift not only for Gram, but for all of us. And, of course, it will be a wonderful keepsake to share with my girls. In fact, my sweet girl would get so excited every time another relative sent their story in – she loved reading them just as much as I did!


Teamcarbone said...

Wow what a wonderful gift for both you and your grandmother. I would image it took a lot of time to put together but with lots of love. I was thinking maybe I might try it for my mother's 80th which is in February. We'll see.

LMAO about the prom story!

Deanna said...

It really was, and I have extra binders and plan on making a copy for my dad and his siblings. It's really a nice keepsake, and like I said, I think anyone would love if someone did something like this for them. I'm sure your mom would love this! You could even have some of her siblings join in the fun. And actually, if you didn't want to do the binder version, if you have a video camera, you could make a tape of people telling their stories -- that would be great, too!

Teamcarbone said...

Okay the video taping is a great idea, especially because all of my aunts and uncles are getting up there in age, but it would take me way to much! LOL

Thanks for the ideas.

Deanna said...

No problem! Glad I could help -- that video idea just popped into my head -- that would have been great for my project too, although I was in such a time crunch with the holidays and work that that would have been difficult for me!

Christine said...

I love this idea! Of course knowing my grandma and what comes out of her mouth (and her past!) I think I'll just save this one up for someone else.

I bet your grandma loved it (actually I know she did because I asked her about it at the party and she kept going on about it!)

The prom story is hysterical!

Deanna said...

Cute -- I'm glad she liked it so much! Liv's favorite story is one from my Uncle Steve (Will's favorite!) when they were taking a road trip across the country and it was so hot that my grandfather had a pair of his underwear, soaked in water -- on his head to keep him cool! The things you find out about your family, when you ask!