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The Heart of HM: So Happy Together

December 31, 2013
Originally published December 2013
Written by Brenda Kruse
Last fall, I decided to tackle a project I’d been meaning to do for a few years…a storybook for each of my three siblings to honor their status as Aunt and Uncles to my two kids, then ages 10 and 7. As the oldest of four, I wanted my sister and two brothers to know how much I valued their influence in the lives of my children. While I’d sent my siblings greeting cards over the years, I hadn’t tackled a storybook project as significant as this one for their benefit before now. After the family gathered together in October, I decided it was the year to create it.

I knew I had plenty of photos and memories captured, but I wanted to compile them and share them in a single storybook for each of my siblings. I started with an 8 x 8 template by Heidi Jackson, and filled it with every photo ever taken of that sibling with my children. Once I finished one book, I made a copy and swapped out all the photos and stories to feature that person’s involvement in my children’s lives.

It was an absolute blast to go back through 10-plus years of photos and memories to create these collections of “so happy together” times! It took many extra pages to include everything. In fact, I maxed out the storybooks at the 99-page limit! I knew I wanted to be as thorough as possible. Finally, I submitted them to print just in the nick of time for the Christmas delivery deadline that guaranteed my gift would arrive in time.

Christmas Eve came and there was no sign of the storybook I hoped to give to my sister, Holli, that night after church. As we came home from the church service at about 7 p.m., I saw the UPS truck in the neighborhood and chased it down to locate the special gift!

She opened it that night and looked through the pages while my kids looked over her shoulder, surprised at how they — and she — used to look years ago, which led to quite a few laughs. Now that she has two kids of her own and we moved close by, there will be more photos of her kids and my kids together over the coming years. Her storybook also served double-duty as a gift for her December 18th birthday.

On Christmas Day, I was able to connect with my brother Bret in Colorado Springs, who had received his package. He opened it on Skype so we could see and hear his reaction. I managed to snap a photo of him holding his book, which he adores! Tony, my youngest brother, who lives in Chicago, also let us know he loved the gift and will treasure it for a long time.

I’m thrilled to know my siblings appreciate their books and I love that I was able to express my gratitude in a special, custom keepsake through Heritage Makers.