Editor's Note: This article was originally written for the Salt Lake Tribune, and we're posting it here on the NSA Voices blog because we believe that Linda Fantin (the author) makes a fantastic point about scrapbooking. The industry represents one aspect of scrapbooking, where the realities of our lives offer up very different subject matter.
Materials: Patterned Paper by My Mind's Eye, flower by Bazzil, large brad by Imaginisce, alphabet tiles by Provo Craft, rub-ons by American Craft and parentheses by Around the Block.
Congratulations to Cheryl Baase, winner of The Tribune's first - and possibly last - scrapbooking contest. The challenge was to create a scrapbook layout using an embarrassing school photo, and Baase's 12x12 page about her grandson's preschool graduation was colorful, simple and funny, the best of the entries. All six of them.
I could blame the poor response on inadequate advertising, except that the contest was posted on Web sites and in newsletters that reach thousands of scrapbookers nationwide.
It's true that getting published in a newspaper is no big deal to scrappers aiming for Creating Keepsakes Hall of Fame status. On the flipside, the $100 cash prize, four times the typical reward in retailer-sponsored contests, should have been an adequate incentive.
And so, dear people, I have concluded that the reason our contest was such a flop is simply that scrapbookers have misplaced their sense of humor amid a smothering sense of possibility.
Walk into any scrapbook store and you'll see what I mean. The place contains all the drollery of Deseret Book.
When it comes to inspiration, scrapbookers often are at the mercy of suppliers who are stuck in an obvious rut. What product designers lack in originality, they make up for in volume, cranking out stamps and stickers and metal tags and ribbon and zipper pulls and key tags filled with the same uplifting commands.
Hope. Dream. Believe. Aspire. Trust. Create. Cherish. Share. Reminisce. Discover. Succeed. Live. Laugh. Love. And, my ironic favorite: Imagine.
Just once, I'd like to pick up a sheet of rub-ons and read the language of my life: Procrastinate. Gossip. Leftovers. Truthiness. Comfy Pants. Overdraft Protection.
Or pick up a quote book that doesn't contain Abraham Lincoln's saying: "All I am, or can be, I owe to my angel mother."
I'm all for citing Lincoln on liberty, but when it comes to dear old mom, I prefer Stewie Griffin from The Family Guy.
"Hello, mother. I come bearing a gift. I'll give you a hint. It's in my diaper and it's not a toaster."
Religious figures are a fine reference for scrapbookers, but so is Homer Simpson.
"I'm normally not a praying man, but if you're up there, please save me Superman."
On family matters, it's hard to argue with the LDS Church slogan "Family. It's about Time."
Or with Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons: "Families are about love overcoming emotional torture."
You'd think scrapbookers would have a more developed sense of humor given how often we are ridiculed. My all-time favorite is a hilarious story from "The Onion." The 2004 parody, which panned the sugar-sweet, censored nature of scrapbooking, was headlined "Local Woman's Life Looks Bearable In Scrapbook."
It reminds me of a recent conversation with Making Memories spokeswoman Kelly Mooney who told me that a few years ago the company was planning a farcical Web site, https://www.fakingmemories. com, to poke fun at the industry. It even made a $15,000 commercial for it.
"At the time, the industry was too serious to get by with it," Mooney said.
This, by the way, is the same industry that makes millions of dollars from glue dots and squiggly scissors and painted paper clips. Scrapbooking isn't Life's Little Instruction Book, a confessional or an homage to eternal optimism. It's about reflection and capturing moments and avoiding housework.
And if the "industry" was smart, it would see that humor and optimism are fashionable again. Programs like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are household names. A mockumentary, "Borat," just debuted No. 1 at the box office. And the Democrats have taken back Congress.
So here's my challenge to scrapbookers: Go ahead and have your Elizabeth Barrett Browning. But make room for a little Voltaire. In the French philosopher's words: "All styles are good except the tiresome kind."