Monday, June 2, 2003    


One picture is worth ten thousand words.

By:Sarah Saint

* Why is scrapbooking important?

There is an old Chinese Proverb: One picture is worth ten thousand words.

So I found out one day, while going through some old photos with my mother. She was telling me stories of her family, how they had been mostly poor, what it was like growing up during WWII. It was a world apart from how I had grown up.

My mother handed me a worn black and white photograph of a little girl, sitting on a porch step. A sweet, innocent face of about 5 or 6 years old stared back at me from the photo. She had on a little sailor suit dress and her faced was framed with long, beautiful ringlets. She was an angel! But then, I noticed the rest. The porch was old and rickety; the house it was attached to in not much better condition. The front yard, if you could call it that, was nothing but dirt. There was nothing else in the photo- just the house, the porch, the dirt, the girl. It was haunting.

I gazed down at this innocent face and a thousand thoughts ran through my head. What was life like for her? Was she happy? Did she have a best friend? Did she have a favorite toy? Did she have ANY toys? I suddenly wanted to scoop her up in my arms, hold her tight and tell her it was okay. I looked up at my mother and in a hushed voice asked, "Mom... who is she?" My mother replied, slowly, "Well... that's me!"

All the thoughts came flooding back, all the stories she had told me. Parents always talk about, "Back when I was young..." and "We were soooo poor..." and yet here it was, staring me in the face. Now it was my mother I wanted to scoop up and hold tightly. I couldn't believe that was really her! All the wonderful things she had given to me when I was young... compared to all things she had never had, maybe couldn't even imagine having. The stories had given me the information, but the photo made it real.

Now it's my turn. I'm the Mom. I'm almost halfway around the world from where I grew up, trying to raise two children, trying to teach them about my childhood, my home town, my home country. I want to give them not only a sense of my background and heritage, but their own. They are not just Dutch citizens, but also American citizens. And, like my mother, I tell them the stories and describe the events. It's a start, but it's not enough. Like me being able to see my mother in a different light, I know that my children will understand more, experience more, live more just by seeing the photos that go along with the stories of my life and the country I called home for 25 years.

I hope they will also come to understand their own lives better, as well. They can compare the Dutch way of life to the American way of life. One is not better than the other, but by comparing the two they will see the similarities, as well as the differences. In this way I hope they also learn that other cultures and countries are like that, too. Different, yet similar. So, I take many, many photos of them and the world around them. Photos not just of the "important" events, but the every day events. That way, in years to come, we can share the memories and the tales of what we did and said and saw, and there, beside the story, will be the photographs.

That Chinese Proverb is better known as, "A picture paints a thousand words". How true that is. That is why Scrapbooking is important. It's one thing to tell the story. It's another thing to make photographs. But by combining the two, memories come alive. They can be shared and passed on in a much grander fashion. Scrapbooking is not just about putting photos into safe books. It's not just about documenting facts and stories. To me, it's a biography of someone's life, complete with pictures and souveniers. I can think of no better way to cherish that life and to honor that person, than to keep those "documents of their life" in a scrapbook album, for others to see and remember and learn.

Sarah St. George
Gouda, The Netherlands

Tomorrow at dMarie Daily: Untitled, by Linda C.

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