Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Final Super Secret Christmas Present (I promise)


In anticipation of our belated Christmas celebration, I spent many, many weeks preparing special gifts for my family members. The original plan was to compile simple photo albums for my dad (and brother), my son and my uncle John. Since I have over 8,000 photos on my computer, it seemed an easy enough task to sort through them, find the best shots, print them off and add them to the albums.

About a quarter of the way in, I decided that the albums should be individualized. I began working in earnest on the project, spending my free time sorting and printing.

About half way through I decided to scan old pictures and add them to the mix. I wanted the albums to be a surprise, so borrowing the photos from my dad’s house involved covert activity. I went through the pictures while dad was sleeping in his lounge chair and Mike was at work. I snuck into my dad's room to root around in his dresser drawers while he was in the shower. I considered buying night vision goggles so I could do my deed while everyone was sleeping but I didn't think the turn around time on amazon.com would be fast enough for me to finish by "Christmas".


About three quarters of the way into the project, I realized that there was no way I could finish in time. I started staying up until the wee hours, sorting, scanning, printing...printing, sorting, scanning...sprinting, scorting, panning. On the rare occasions that I did sleep, my dreams were filled with paper jams and empty ink cartridges.

My entire family was starting to worry about me. The cats were tired of the incessant noise of the printer and my brother was suspicious because I kept calling him at work to chat at 2 am. My co-workers made more than a few comments about the satchels under my eyes and HWDDD shook his head every morning when he saw me with my mega-tanker coffee cup staggering to the shower.

Finally, the night before my son flew in, I finished. I was tired and crabby, but the albums were done. I wrapped them and loaded them in the car.

Was it all worth it? You bet.

My dad went through each and every one of the pages. One at a time. Then later that night, he went through them again.

My son had the world’s biggest smile on his face when he opened the package. He also went through every page, at least once.

My uncle was thrilled too. He kept touching the pages as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing.

It’s funny. I had no idea how much it would mean to them, I just knew that I wanted to do it. I also had no idea how much it would mean to me. Not only the giving of the gift, but the process of making it. By sorting through all of the photos, and organizing them, I was reminded of the circumstances under which they were taken. The wonderful walks at Buck Creek, the Woodbine adventure, the time Uncle John, Mike, Shasta and I went out to survey damage from the Derby Fire, the priceless photos of my mom and son, the river trips, and the visits to Denver.

Before, they were just pictures, images on a screen or sheet of paper. Afterward, they were our lives.

21 comments:

jen said...

do they know how amazing you are? i know they do. but you are.

how incredibly and absolutely loving. and lovely.

Wolf said...

We do, I started crying when I started flipping through the pages of mine, seeing all the work she had put into finding the pictures and setting the book up for each of us. Mine had a picture of my new car on the front and there is room still in back for more pictures and I look forward to filling it. I realy know how blessed I am to have such an awesom mom and I was realy glad that she liked the Digital Picture Fraim I got her. She gave us the photo albums first and I had to smile when I realized how we were both on symilar pages with photo's. I have to agree, even though it was belated and had its little goofs, it was the best christmas in a long time and my mom was the one who made it that way. Thank you Mom, I love you.

Laurie said...

Jen, I'm not amazing at all. Just a typical mom, daughter, sister, niece, that loves her family. Thanks for thinking I am though :).

Wolf (aka best son in the universe), I'm so glad you liked your album. I noticed you smiling like a cheshire cat and wondered what you were up to. The digital picture frame is the coolest gift ever and I love it! We certainly were on the same wavelength this year.

By goofs, I'm assuming you meant dinner! I laugh out loud when I think about you taking the turkey out of the roaster and a huge hunk of white meat flying off into the sunset! The rolls were hysterical too. Flat as a pancake and filled with air. What a fiasco that meal was. Nonetheless, it was the best Christmas in a long time!

Ur-spo said...

my goodness! what don't you do?
You never cease to make me marvel!

Anvilcloud said...

That's a huge gift. It takes a lot of time to do all of that.

Laurie said...

Ur-spo, you are entirely too kind! Nothing I do takes much talent, just time, which I am happy to put in, but thanks!

AC, So many things have changed in my recent life...so many endings and beginnings. To go through it all frame by frame was truly cathartic.

butterfly girl said...

It's amazing how wonderful pictures make people feel. That was a great gift!

Now next year you can give them each a Creative Memories book! Visit me you'll get an idea. It would take you all year to do that many! At least it would me.

I'm glad you finally had a Merry Christmas!

Mary said...

Now that was a labor of love, Laurie. I know how much work that was, as I was given one as a farewell gift when I moved away from DE. A co-worker spent more than a month getting it together and when she presented it to me, I cried tears. I'll bet your heart felt so good watching your men enjoy such a special gift.

MsLittlePea said...

wow! I love that! I love photo albums and old pictures....sounds like a lot of work. But it's the sweetest kind of work because you got to remember. That makes me want to reorganize my pictures...I only have a milliongazillion in a box bigger than me....

Bonita said...

What an inspiring story! I've wanted to do this very thing, for all my kids. Your albums are beautiful.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

What neat gifts! I am sure it was worth the time and effort.

Laurie said...

Butterfly, I'll hop over to your sight and check it out. I'm not sure I'm talented enough to put one together though.

Mary, I was pretty emotional while they were looking at them, it really choked me up seeing how much they liked them.

Mslittlepea, it is a lot of work, but so much fun. It was like living it all over again. I hope you get a chance to organize your photos. Don't fall in the box and get lost though!

Bonita, I'm sure your kids would love it. Start early though...it takes a lot of time!

Nick, I enjoyed it more than I ever could have expected to. It was an emotional journey, but I'm very glad I took the "trip".

Squirl said...

Wow, what a thoughtful gift. You really put a lot of yourself into it.

KC said...

That was so sweet how your dad flipped through it methodically, then later, again.

And so sweet your exchanges here with your son. Your clear love is inspiring.

Laurie said...

Squirl, I enjoyed doing it so much. In a way it was like reliving life. I highly recommend it.

KC, my dad is a sentimental kind of guy. He's a big sweetie, just like my son.

Speaking of my son, he's my best friend in the universe. We have such a good time together. I remember once when we were walking through Office Depot. He would wander off to look at stuff...I kept doing what I was doing. Every once in awhile he'd come over and give me a great big hug. I thought he was just in a mushy mood, but when we got home, I discovered that he'd been using the demo label maker to make labels. I had sayings like "Kiss me I'm Norwegian" and "Beware of Blonde" all over the back of my jacket. We still laugh about that.

Within Without said...

I've got to come back and check out the links on this post, but those pix of your dad and Wolf looking at the tremendous gifts you gave them...that's enough.

You're obviously so very special to them and they to you. Seeing and hearing such things is the real stuff that makes the world go round, Laurie.

Dysfunctional Housewife said...

WOW Laurie ~ You are such a thoughful gift-giver!! SOOOO much better than a fruitcake! If pictures are worth a thousand words..then I guess you said A LOT to your family! :)

Laurie said...

DH, I probably enjoyed putting the albums together as much or more than they enjoyed receiving them.

And I love them too much to subject them to fruitcake!

threecollie said...

My mom did that for each of my brothers and I, and I can't tell you what a treasure the albums are. It is wonderful that you made those for them.

Laurie said...

Threecollie, I really enjoyed making them. I imagine your mom did too. It's a labor of love.

LauraHinNJ said...

What a wonderful gift, Laurie!