The winter of 1995 was a busy one as usual. We had 2 daughters still in colleges on either side of the US and they were preparing to go overseas together for a semester abroad. I was working the Christmas Show that November – 12 long days of 12 long hours standing on a very hard concrete floor. But I loved the talented gal who was hand painting wonderful Christmas ornaments. One day toward the end of my shift, I got a call from my sister wanting me to come down to Florida to help decorate a Christmas tree. A Christmas tree?? Are you serious? Yes, her husband had “bought” a tree that had to be decorated and then displayed in the Festival of Trees in the Daytona Beach Junior League Show. So Sister and I put together a plan to create an old Florida “Cracker” Christmas tree. “Cracker” is a term that is generally used now to denote families that have lived in the state for several generations and our family falls in that category. Some folks look down their noses at this word because they say it is as degrading as the term “redneck.” Since I married into a family that proudly and affectionately describe themselves as “lintheads,” I love getting to be a Florida Cracker. “It is considered a source of pride to be descended from “frontier people who did not just live but flourished in a time before air conditioning, mosquito repellent, and screens,” says Dana Ste Claire. Bear with me – this really is leading to my discovery of Creative Memories!
Anyway, the next few weeks were filled with foraging and gathering items that might have been available in the late 1800’s or very early 1900’s in rural Florida. We made baby cradles from walnut shells. We stuck cloves into fresh oranges and made red yarn dollies. We even bought a dehydrator and made a gazillion dried orange slices which we slid onto rough twine with cinnamon sticks for garlands. We itched through creating bird’s nests with Spanish moss and twigs and cooked gingerbread men coated with cinnamon. We put jars of canned goods in old baskets and then tucked an old quilt around the base as a tree skirt. And all the while sister talked about what she’d been doing to take care of her photos and that I really HAD to do it too. She may be littler but she is wiser! Growing up, our father was an amateur photographer with a small darkroom in our house, so there were hundreds of photos of sister as she is 9 years older. And they weren’t slack about taking photos of me either.
She had the nicest “consultant” who could help me get those shoeboxes and drawers of photos organized and preserved. Mercy, who had time to do something like that? But once we had the tree in place, there was time to walk around the arena and shop! Luckily enough, her consultant had a small booth with a ton of amazing product. $300 dollars later and laden down with more bags than I could carry, I was hooked! But what was I to do way up in NC ? Sister’s consultant was almost 500 miles away in Florida! To my good fortune, there was a gal about 20 miles up the road who was having a class in the next few days. Don’t you know she was thrilled to see a potential customer walk in the door with bags of already purchased product? And did I even complete a page? No, but I did spend the whole night racing from person to person helping them with their pages. Was it obvious enough that she had a recruit just begging to be asked to join up? She never said anything but encouraging words and that was the beginning of my love affair with Creative Memories! Melanie became my fabulous upline and Jan my sideline, and whatever they did, I wanted to do too. They even convinced me to attend the 1996 Showcase held in St.Cloud that year. I had never even taught a class so thought I didn’t deserve to register to attend any of the breakouts. But that’s another story!
From then on it was the most fun an empty-nester could have! Being 12 years older than my super upline and 10 years older than sideline Jan, I couldn’t believe they wanted me to tag along but I did and it was quite a journey. I loved the training and the support of my upline and fellow consultants. My UPS lady and those who attended a class became friends – not just customers. Friends that will last long after the company has gone. We have seen the children of our customers go from newborn to graduation, marriage to children of their own. Sickness and healing, divorce and remarriage – we have shared so much with our CM friends. And Creative Memories won’t be soon forgotten because so many of us have taken thousands of photos at CM events, documented our journeys of being a consultant, a downline, an upline, and created hundreds of traditional and digital pages celebrating it all. Attending Showcases was so exciting! Remember taking photos of pages in the Albums on Display booth? And how proud we were when Jan won Spirit of Success one year! And when StoryBook Creator was introduced, Jan and Melanie hopped right on that bandwagon dragging me right along with them. Does anyone remember the webinars that Dawn and Jan used to do way back when on the new software? There were often technical problems but everyone wanted that training so badly and they stuck with it! I used to sit at my computer trying to take notes and do screen shots at the same time – not wanting to miss anything! And so the rest is history.
It’s been mighty hard to see this wonderful company lose their momentum and impossible to pinpoint when it began to change. But one thing I wouldn’t change are the friends that were made along the way at the monthly meetings that Melanie held. Male bonding has NOTHING on the bonding that females do over preserving their memories! You know, as consultants, we did something that mattered. We helped family, customers, and friends realize that their photos and stories had value and that those memories needed to be put in a safe place so that they could be enjoyed by future generations.
Have just spent a sweet hour looking through a big black CM box for photos of CM events. I pulled out each one and was just flooded with dear memories of times past. And that’s the way we should remember our time with CM. We were learning, growing, trying to spread our wings and we did!
Once again, the road is taking a different turn and this time there’s a stop sign ahead for the old Creative Memories but their mission will stay with us. So stay the course of preserving your past, take pictures and tell the story to enrich the present and by doing so you will inspire hope for the future generations because you took the time to do so. You can do it!
Keep making those memories,
PS – This blog is so long – it was hard to stop the CM memory journey.
Blueprints: HipHipHooray by Shelley and A Day at the Beach by Justine
Background:Primary Birthday, Colorful Symphony
Fonts: Black Boys on Mopeds, A Year Without Rain