Monday, November 17, 2014

The Best Christmas Present I Ever Gave

Back in October, when my nephews were staying with us, somehow the boys and I started talking about the scrapbook we put together 10 years ago.  My nephew jumped in and started quoting things that were written in it.  I was shocked.

Me:  You remember that scrapbook?
Nephew:  Yeah.
Me:  When was the last time you even looked at it?
Nephew:  About a month ago.  It's on the table next to my bed.
Me:

This child has moved many times in the last 10 years, including a couple of places during their 3 years in Hawaii.  Just in the last 2 years he has lived in three different places in Kentucky.  I couldn't be more shocked that he still has this book, let alone knows where it is.

I knew it was a good thing when we made it, but I had no idea it would still be looked at 10 years later...

Twelve years ago, my sister and 2 sisters-in-law each delivered their first babies (all boys!) within a few months of the day I gave birth to Giant.  We all lived in different states, and I was sad that none of the kids would know each other very well.  The year the boys were turning 2, I decided to make a book for them to help them all learn both the alphabet and the names of their relatives.  It began as a project for my kids and me to do together, but it quickly turned into an extended family affair.

First I wrote out the alphabet and listed all of the relatives according to the first letters of their names.  The kids helped me come up with adjectives and verbs beginning with each of those letters.  We then had to be patient and wait for a time that my family was all getting together.

It came in November.

My grandma was turning 80 that year, so everyone went to Thanksgiving in Ohio and stayed for an extra day or two to celebrate with her.  We jumped on the opportunity.  We let all the relatives know about the book we were making.  We were going to be asking them to do some crazy things, and they had no choice but to do them.  Not only did the relatives do these things, they even came up with crazier things to add.  We all had so much fun coming up with the ideas for the pages, but executing the ideas was even funnier.

We made my step-mom and brother "run a road race".




We told my dad (Papa to my kids) that we would be taking a photo of him with some pancakes.  He ran with it, and he is quite proud of his acting abilities.


"Papa ponders a pile of pancakes on a purple plate."


We even got my grandma to pose for her photo outside where the neighbors could see her being silly.  Let me say, that was huge.  My grandma is from the generation very big on being proper in front of the neighbors.

"Grandma grudgingly guzzles ginger ale from a green can in her garage."

Once we got the letters which had relatives associated with them, we had to get creative.  No one in the family has a name starting with lots of the letters, including F, H, I, K, and X.  During that Thanksgiving weekend in Ohio and over the next month, we were constantly on the lookout for ideas to go with each letter.  We poured over the dictionary to find words that could work.

For example, since my grandma had just turned 80, she got to do yet another embarrassing photo in her driveway for all the neighbors to see:

"An octogenarian opens orange juice outside in her Oldsmobile."

Coming out of my mother-in-law's house one day, we were thrilled to discover that the neighbor had turned 40.  His family not only let us all know in a public way, but they gave us the perfect idea for our F page:

"A family fist-fights in front of forty flamingoes furiously flapping their feathers."  

We used some family history to make some pages:

"A visit with a veteran, viewing a variety of Vietnam souvenirs."

We made special trips around town to snap specific, more elusive letters.

"Young Yankees yawn next to a yak."

We even got the relatives' pets involved:

"With zeal, Zoe eats a zucchini while watching a zebra."

By far, the favorite photo taken in the entire book was for U.  The laughter that ensued when we managed to get "unknown uncles under an umbrella in their unusual underwear" made the entire project worth the time.

PHOTO WITHHELD

seeing as how the uncles, including Bryan,
 probably don't want their bare bellies and legs out there
 on the internet for the world to see. 
 (They were "unknown" because they used the umbrella to cover their faces.)

Once all of the photos were taken, the kids and I went to a few scrapbook and craft stores to find stickers and paper to coordinate and decorate each letter page.



Finally, I put all four of the books together and handed them out at Christmas.

Well, I handed out 5 books.  My dad enjoyed the project so much, I made one for him, too, minus the paper and sticker decorations.

I can't believe it was 10 years ago.  Since then, lots more kids have been born into the family.  So many people aren't in the scrapbook.  It doesn't matter so much, though, since everyone now lives closer together.  The kids frequently see each other and know each other well.  They don't need a book to remind them of their relatives.

Part of me wants to do another one, though.  Ten years ago there was a  bit of a letdown once the books were done.  Having a common goal really got us laughing and being creative together.  I don't remember another time when we had such an experience with everyone.  It really was a whole mess of fun.

Makes me think...we are all going to be together for Grandma's 90th birthday party this Thanksgiving...

Have a lovely day!


30 comments:

  1. And for it to be remembered is the best. What a terrific idea.

    Have a fabulous Monday. :)

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    1. It warms my heart to know that at least one nephew has kept it all these years.

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  2. I don't usually yell, but I LOVE THIS IDEA!!!!!!

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    1. I am not a fan of yelling indoors, but I'M SO GLAD YOU LIKE IT!

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  3. What a fabulous and creative idea - LOVE IT!!! :)

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  4. This is such a wonderful and creative idea. And how double-wonderful to know that this book is charished for so long!

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    1. It was such fun to make, but the fact that at least one nephew still have it is the best part.

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  5. What a brilliantly fabulous idea, and it's good to know that the scrapbook has been cherished for so long. And the photo of the unknown uncles sounds great - are you SURE we aren't allowed to see it?? :)

    If it's Grandma's 90th birthday soon then what better excuse to do another book?!

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    1. I wondered how long those books would last. I'm beyond thrilled to know at least one is still in circulation.

      I'm positive. :)

      We'll have to come up with another fun activity to do for and with older kids.

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  6. WHAT FUN! And that is a wicked good sense of humor with your family!

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    1. It really was loads of fun, and my family brought their best humor. My sister about choked when she had to sip soda through seven silly straws. :)

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  7. This is so wonderful, I can hardly get over it! My next project! I am forwarding this post on to my family.

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    1. Oh, do it! Do it! You'll have so much fun.

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  8. OH WOW!

    It's incredible. What an amazing idea. That truly is worthy of the title of this post. I love it :D

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    1. I still can't believe we followed through and got the whole thing done. It took over a month! So glad we did it, though.

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  9. This is seriously the BEST idea ever!!! I am smiling so big right now. What a great gift for your entire family :)!

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    1. Every once in a while I come up with a good idea. :) Glad you enjoyed it.

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  10. Christine, I love this. This would be perfect for the cousin our Kidzilla has several states away. It's a big project, though...I have yet to complete any scrapbook I claimed I was going to...

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    1. It would be perfect! I can't tell you how surprised I am that we got it done. The hardest part is just starting it. It takes a life of its own, and everyone wants to do it. You will be held accountable by the relatives, so it will get done. It was extra hard with our family since there are so many people we had to include, seeing as how my parents are divorced and remarried, I have so many siblings, and there were 7 cousins at the time.
      Do it! Do it!

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  11. Christine, this is the best idea! I love games and activities to do with the alphabet and you guys nailed this one - it's brilliant. I laughed out loud at the sentence for the letter 'O' (how cool is your grandma?!) and can only imagine that your whole family is still laughing at the letter 'U' page a decade later :))

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    1. My grandma is super cool. The U page photo is hysterical, especially since my brother and husband are very, very different body types. Well, they were 10 years ago. :)

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  12. You really should post the whole book in another post. I still have it sitting on the table in the family room.

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    1. It has too many names and photos some family members may not want out here.

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  13. I love this idea then again I love gifts with meanings - after we hosted our kids through out their 3 week stay with us we took many pictures so days leading to their departure with the help of Walgreen's (yes I cheated) I created 3 photo albums; they each got one and we had one for our home. I thought i never see them again ...back in the orphanage it was their pride possession and they did bring them back when we came home; often times they go in their room and look at those pages :)

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    1. Oh, that was a great idea! You must be so glad that you took the time to make them.

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  14. What a great, creative idea! I can see why your nephew keeps that book close. Homemade gifts are the best. Something that involves family photos is even better. Ten years ago though...does seem like another one would be needed. :-)

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    1. When we made them, I hoped the boys would see the value in them. Clearly at least one nephew did!

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