Last week I met with a realtor and put my house on the market. To say the least, my timing could be better. First of all, winter will be here sooner than I like (if I had my way, it would never arrive), and popular opinion is that homes don’t sell well at this time of the year. I already have quite a bit on my plate, and I haven’t finished downsizing by any means, so that was an issue to consider. Finally, I was a bit hesitant to list it 2 1/2 months before I leave the country for 4 months.

I knew, though, that there’s never going to be a perfect time, so I signed the contract to list my house. I also knew that by putting the house on the market, I’d be forced to finish some tasks I’ve been chipping away at for months and months. One of those tasks is sorting through 27 years of photos and memorabilia, organizing everything “once and for all” so I can get serious about completing my children’s scrapbooks.

Yesterday morning, I collected from all over the house (the basement, my closet, the office, and even under my bed) all the bins and boxes containing photos and memorabilia from January 1986 (when I found out I was expecting our first child) to now. Feeling optimistic, I also pulled out 3 large bins that contained mementos and photos from the first two years of our marriage (before we had our son) and from my husband’s and my lives before we met.

I assembled the 27 boxes — sized 12″ x 12″ x 4″ — I purchased months ago, wrote a year on the outside in magic marker, and arranged them along the outer walls of my living/dining room area. And then I dug in.

For two days, I’ve been immersed in memories. Memories of babies and toddlers, first baths and first teeth and first steps, romps on the playground and on the living room floor, and beloved friends we left behind with each move.  Memories of beloved pets  that ranged from our much-loved West Highland White Terrier to two kittens a sweet older lady from church gave my preschoolers to two bunnies that we quickly decided were not a good fit for our family to a red milk snake that, surprisingly was. Memories of Sunday School Christmas programs and Vacation Bible School. And then came the school years. Classroom parties, Boy and Girl Scouts, and birthday parties galore. Followed by high school. No more birthday party pictures, but oh the band concert photos and pictures of sporting events and . . . the list goes on and on.

Finally, at about 5:45 this evening, I was done. 31 numbered boxes (a couple of particularly eventful years needed 2 boxes to contain all the photos and memorabilia — who knew one week at Walt Disney World could produce so many pictures, brochures, tickets, character autographs, and other bits and pieces of paper!) are filled and stored in my closet. One large bin holding photos of my ancestors as well as photos and other items from my husband’s and my childhoods and pre-marriage lives — all sorted and grouped by year — sits in the office.

I’m tired — physically and emotionally. Strolling through so many years, briefly reliving the best experiences of my life and some not-so-great moments (children’s injuries and surgeries, for example, and my father’s battle with cancer) was just as hard as I thought it would be. But I’d put this off as long as I could; it was time to get it done.

It’s not easy to go back and look at what “was”, when what “was” ended far before I ever dreamed it would. But I did it, and it felt really good to check that item off my to-do list. I know I will be reliving everything yet again when I actually create the scrapbook pages. Next time through, I’ll slow down, look at the pictures more carefully in order to choose just the right ones, and journal about the events that accompany the photos and the memorabilia.

I’m not looking forward to the monumental task of scrapbooking 27 years of life (24 for my daughter), but I’ll get it done . . . one memory at a time.