We live at some distance from our extended family on both sides. My home valley is between 8 hours (as my speed-demon brother drives) and 10 hours (as more sensible, non-speeding, stop-to-pee me drives) away. My Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal husband’s family is a good week’s drive away, down on the Gulf Coast. Neither of the Grandmas gets to see our kids as much as they would like, and the Greatmas have it even worse.
(According to my nearly-5-year-old, the nomenclature works like this:
- Mom and Dad
- Grand Ma and Grand Dad
- Great Ma and Great Dad
She came up with it her own self, and she’s not one to brook an argument on the topic. It helps her keep a lot of old people straight, and genealogy is rough when you’re not even eye-level with the kitchen countertop.)
We work hard to keep family relationships strong across the miles. Phone calls are frequent, and we spend a lot of time telling our kids family stories from our lives, and those of the Grand and Great parents. You’ll hear that nearly-5 girl talk fondly about her Grandpa C, though he died six years before she was born. She also gets a little irate that she can’t go visit her namesake Great-Greatma Fern (who died in 1992, at the age of 101 1/2. My spicy child came along nearly 13 years later, for goodness sake, but linear time is a little iffy when you’re small.) She feels connected, because she knows them through stories.
When a friend of mine sucked me into the vast conspiracy and cult that is “Scrapbooking,” one of the first projects I saw a use for was a progressive album for each of the Grandmas. My mom already had an album going, so it was a simple thing to do up simplified pages as I did my own album work, and send over sets to pop into her book. My husband customized a nice binder for his mom, and we send down new layouts already in page protectors, to help her keep up to date on our lives, and how the kids are growing and changing.
I’m not good at contributing to these progressive albums on a regular basis, but I keep it in mind when buying paper; I tend to buy double what I need for my own layout, so I can split the other set of papers into simplified versions for my mother and mother-in-law.
More recently (mid-November), I’ve started another progressive album, this time for my grandmother, who is confined to bed for a bit, recovering from an injury. “Sitting Still” is a foreign concept to her, let alone laying still! To help her pass the time, I put together a smaller, 8×8″ album with pictures from our family’s year, including our visit to her house this summer. I tried to include the stories behind the pictures with short captions on each layout.
I know she’s far more concerned with just being able to see the children’s faces and activities, rather than being impressed by the newest “product”, so the layouts are very, very light on embellishments. I stuck with one color of stamping ink (sepia) and one writing pen color (black), accenting stamped images with colored pencils here and there. Most pages have no patterned paper at all; I cut up a grand total of two 12×12″ patterned paper sheets to finish 30 pages! No stickers, no brads, no ribbons, no stitching, no vellum, no rub-ons, no glitter, no embossing.
The streamlined embellishment still took time, but in about 8 hours, I’d scrapped pictures from February through last week, and I’ll be able to finish the last four layouts (in addition to the current 15) and have the whole album in the mail in the next 24 hours. By the weekend, she and my grandfather will have a new set of stories to read together, and a new set of smiles to light up the room.
I rebel against any generation gap.