Every year (I do Christmas, but it could just as easily be birthdays or anything else), I write and hand-bind a story for my two boys–about my two boys, Cass and Ollie. Cleverly disguised as Casper and Olivier (two fictional characters we’ve invented for bedtime story capers), these two tenacious brothers, who also happen to be best friends, embark on magical, madcap adventures that pull in bits and pieces of our own lives here in Detroit. It’s such a fun way to document what kinds of things they’re captivated by at the time. One year, the story was based on a detective who was trying to solve the mystery of the forest animals who lost their voices, because we were constantly telling and acting out little stories about the “Fancy Cape Detectives” at home. I had a cape and Sherlock Holmes hat made by someone from etsy, and my oldest son would carry around a magnifying glass everywhere he went looking for clues. Another year, they were both super into trains (we are a big train family), so the story was based on a magic train that led them back in time.
Just in case this sounds at all braggadocios or ridiculously ambitious, I need to clarify something: This is not a complicated operation. It requires no artistic skills whatsoever–I cut everything out of falling-apart garage sale books and catalogues (remember last year’s Anthropologie catalogue with steaming locomotives and anthropomorphic figures in frilly costumes? It was a tremendously fortuitous break.). And by binding, I really mean sewing whatever paper I can find around the house together with a needle and thread — five minutes tops. The story is the fun part. If your kids are anything like mine (and force you to tell looonngggg dramatic stories before bed and on car trips and any other moment of stillness), the work is already done. I love having a written record that pulls from some of those impromptu moments of creativity and goofiness with them.
Meghan McEwen is the founder of the travel blog Designtripper.