My brother, sister and I are throwing a party in her honor. As fun as it will be connecting with family and friends, there’s one aspect of her birthday celebration I’m most excited about: a scrapbook of notes from those who love her and photos of them with her. When I realized this scrapbook is really about the appreciation people feel for my mother, I decided to share this with my followers. This coincides nicely with Thanksgiving approaching because it’s typically the time of year when we reflect on that which we’re grateful for. I’ll tell you how we’re doing it and it may inspire you to do the same for your loved one.
We mailed out blank white cards for people to use if they wish and instructed them to mail them to me (with a photo, if they can find one) in advance of the party. Then I’ve been sliding the notes and photos into the sheets of the book. It’s not fancy but the love and appreciation that it contains is astounding. I’ve been surprised and touched by what I’ve received.
For one, my cousin sent me an old photo I don’t remember ever seeing: It’s my mother age 6 or so riding a horse on a carousel. She’s in her 1940’s Sunday best and smiling from ear to ear. The photo is adorable, nostalgic, and touching. My heart was overcome with fondness to think of my cousins and aunt and uncle making time to find that old photo for this project.
Also, beautiful, funny and sentimental notes are arriving. They’ve described their appreciation for my mother helping their aging or ill parent AND just how much that meant to them. One person wrote about her gratitude when my mother sat with HER during a recovery. A former neighbor wrote about how his wife looked forward to walking to my mother’s house to retrieve items they picked up for each other on their last trip to the grocery store and looked forward to the companionship. My note is about how I admire my mother’s sense of adventure. She was and, to a lesser extent now, is always up for an outing, a social event, or going to the beach or the mountains. I love that about her and I’m sure it’s part of what made me in the person I’ve become: willing to explore, be active and to try new things.
I’m so excited to present the book of gratitude (and love) to her at the party. She’ll briefly look through it that day but I imagine the true scope of the book will reveal itself later when she has quiet time at home to savor each note. She’ll take in all the words of love and appreciation people feel for her, but so rarely express. This is true for most of us: we hardly make the time to tell those we love or admire how we feel about them. We have busy lives. We’re doing THINGS but not making time to connect with others.
I hope you’re considering doing something like this for your loved one even if the relationship isn’t always wonderful. My mother’s and my relationship certainly isn’t. We’ve had, and continue to have, our share of ups and downs, disagreements, misunderstandings and hurts. Yet the process of compiling this book has reminded me of the value of expressing the positives we do feel.
Here’s how you can create something similar.
• Purchase a scrapbook that contains clear sheets you can slide things into
• Ask friends and family if they’d be willing to write a brief note about the person you have in mind
• Give them ideas of what to write about (a fond or hilarious memory, something they appreciate or admire about this person, or words of love)
• Ask them to include a photo if possible
• Instruct them as to how to get the notes and photos to you
• Slide them into the scrapbook pages & use photo safe tape to hold the photos in place
• Present the completed book to your loved one
• Allow them to look through the book privately if they prefer
November is a great time to reflect on what we’re thankful for, including the people in our lives. May you find a way to express to those you love exactly what you love about them.