The Book That Changed the Night

    “The Book That Changed the Night,” Ensign, Jan. 1993, 72–73

    The Book That Changed the Night

    It looked like another long, depressing weekend. My husband was working out of the state and would not be home for at least another week. The kids and I missed him, and as that Friday night progressed, I found myself getting more and more grouchy.

    When I answered the phone later that evening, I noticed one of our family scrapbooks lying open nearby. I had removed a page from it earlier that day so that my eight-year-old, Allyson, could take it to school.

    I halfheartedly began flipping through the scrapbook. When I came upon a photograph of Allyson at two years old, doing her “famous” hop, I giggled. Other photographs brought back pleasant memories as well. I’d forgotten how my son David used to grimace when he was asked to smile. And all those cousins at the family nativity pageant—how they had changed in seven years!

    In a matter of minutes, I was completely absorbed, reading and remembering. Every few minutes I chuckled, and before long David was seated beside me, enjoying the memories. We went upstairs and got five-year-old Brian to join us. He was amazed to see that his brother and sister were once smaller than he.

    In a few short minutes, my mood had completely changed, and the atmosphere in our home had gone from sullen and edgy to tender and happy—all because we’d taken time to record our family history in a colorful, entertaining way.

    That night reinforced my belief in the importance of keeping photos and other family memorabilia organized and available for family viewing. Through the years, I have learned how to compile family scrapbooks with relative ease and efficiency.

    Organizing materials. I started by organizing all the materials I had collected as the children got older: photos, schoolwork, awards, cards, letters, newspaper articles, and so on. I used apple boxes to hold folders of memorabilia from each year of a family member’s life. My husband and I had folders with headings such as “early childhood,” “high school,” “mission,” and “college.” Items that did not fit into a file folder were put into the appropriate person’s “treasure box,” which we kept in our basement. After two weeks of sorting and filing materials in my spare time, I was ready to begin compiling the scrapbooks.

    Page setup. Next I bought high-quality scrapbook materials that would endure lots of handling. I chose to mount pictures and other memorabilia with transparent photo corners on heavyweight index or card-stock paper (available at most print shops and copy centers). Then I bought vinyl covers for each page. The covers are purposely oversized so that each scrapbook page can slip right in. This necessitates buying oversized binders, which I have found to be longer lasting and of better quality than the standard binders.

    Some items are unsuitable for photo-corner mounting (artwork or typed material, for example). It is better to paste those items on the pages with an archival quality glue that will allow the item to stick flat; such glues are available in many bookstores and office supply stores.

    Time and work space. Once I had begun compiling my scrapbooks, my main problem was finding the time and space to work on them. I found it convenient to set up my scrapbook equipment in a corner of the den so that my materials would be readily available. That enabled me to work on a page whenever I had spare time.

    As my children have grown older, I have enlisted their help in picture sorting, filing, and, eventually, page setup. They seem to value the scrapbooks more than they would have if they had not helped put them together. Even though keeping scrapbooks is a never-ending job, at each step the results are immediately enjoyable.—Linda M. Sargeant, Boulder City, Nevada