The Pages of Our Lives

The Pages of Our Lives


A couple of years ago for Christmas, my sister, Whitney, took all my grandmother and grandfather’s love letters and made them into a book.

It was called Letters from Box 54.

There, in print, were all the everyday, the simple, the overlooked and the ordinary of our grandparent’s lives.

But in those moments–shared from letters written long ago with paper and ink, you could catch a glimpse of the overwhelming, incredible, amazing love they shared for each other….

…and see the extraordinary written in every line.

We all loved the book so much that we begged her for more history.  “Make a family tree,” we’d say. “History would come alive under your watch,” we’d encourage.  “You are the perfect family-treeer.  No one could make a family tree like you,” we’d implore.

But to no avail.

She would smile and laugh roll her eyes and shake her head and explain that family trees were a challenge she didn’t really want to take on.

Until this year.

This was the year she took up the challenge.

This was the year she created another piece of history.

But of course it couldn’t be an ordinary tree.

It couldn’t simply be a family tree with lines and names and branches stretching out in every direction.

She wanted to create something a little different.

When planning her project, she took her cue from the letters from Box 54 and created a family tree made up of the ordinary.

The everyday.

The simple.

The minutes and seconds and hours and days and weeks of our lives.

She went back and found the papers that made each of our families who we are.

Old yearbook pages.

Newspaper clippings.

Street maps of where we lived.

Marriage certificates.

Graduation certificates.

She made copies of all those documents and then carefully, sweetly, amazingly, she punched out the delicate letters of every family member’s name from the pages.

There was a K from a high school year book page.

And a D from a graduation certificate.

And on and on and on.

Tiny letters from all those fleeting moments.

And when she was done punching out all our letters, she took them and carefully glued them onto a canvas.

She arranged those delicate letters into a pattern–twisting and forming the trunk and branches and leaves of our family tree….

…each letter representing an hour or a minute or a celebration of our life.

But that wasn’t all.

My wonderful, incredible, creative sister wasn’t done.

She had one more surprise.

Layered into the trees were the most amazing letters of all.

Tiny letters cut out from where it all started.

Where it all began so many years ago.

The notes and sketches and confidences written by our grandparents and sent from Box 54.

The very foundation for our family tree and the beginning….

…of the pages of our lives. 🙂

PS  I love you, Whitney.

I want to be you when I grow up.

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  1. What a wonderful story…

  2. What a wonderful sister you have in Whitney! What she’s created is LOVE. Delicate, every heart beat, soul unending Love. What a treasure She is. Blessings. ❤

  3. I love that she did this for your family. I love that you want to be her when you grow up – you made my heart smile !!

  4. Barbara Moore :

    Wow. Just wow. I tried to think of something cute to say now. But nothing can come close to how I feel. Just wow. It says it all.

  5. What a wonderful gift of love. I want to be Whitney when I grow up, too!

  6. The talent in your family runs deep. What a gift! 😉

  7. How fabulous for you and your family. What wonderful creative people you are. My Mom always loved getting something made by our own hands. It has a piece of the giver in it.

  8. What a perfect way to show love for your family and the history that comes with it. I can tell you adore your family so much and that everyone in your family loves each other. Great project idea!

  9. This is just perfect!

  10. This is such a meaning and creative gift, KariAnne! Your family creates with love.

  11. This is what Christmas is all about – love!

  12. Oh, my goodness!!! What a beautiful gift. Your family is amazing.

  13. Nan, Odessa, DE :

    OMG!!!! This must be ONE treasure to possess.
    You blessed not only to have this story, your story, but an outstanding

  14. I love Whitney too! 😊 … However I would love to see a clearer picture of your family tree… So creative and heartwarming! Congrats Ms Whitney..

  15. I want to be in your family!

  16. I am awestruck by Whitney’s imagination and creative genius!! I can not even begin to imagine the time and energy and love that went into this gift. I think Whitney just outdid Whitney! The wood frame is a perfect choice for this Family Tree. A beautiful story, beautifully told. Thank-you for sharing this family treasure.

  17. Barbara in CT :

    Searching for family is addictive. I have lots of information about our family but her rendition is amazing.

  18. Move over, Miz karianne…I wanna be Whitney!
    Love this.

  19. KariAnne I love your blog & your beautiful creative family .
    Happy New Year to you all!

  20. Oh, wow! The creativity of you and the rest of your family is truly a treasure.

  21. Karianne….I am in awe of the creativity, love and care that flows through your family. You have all been blessed and I’m grateful that you share your gift and talent with all with your readers.

  22. What a wonderful way to be a family! I LOVE this. So many memories and tokens of days gone by. So special!

  23. Oh my, how you weave a story, with such patience till by the last sentence, the reader looks up from the screen and just sighs. Imagining sitting at your family gathering and opening this unique, lovingly crafted, heirloom. Oh the excitement, the stunned amazement, the explanations, the tears. Such a talented, extended family, each of them artisans connected in faith and love. Well written Karianne, and thoroughly enjoyed reading this, early this morning, under grey California skies, deluged with pounding rain with more waves of rain in the future and worried about friends and family on the western coast. A ray of joy reading this amongst the chaos.

  24. Perfection! Love love love it- means so much♥ Now I can’t wait to see what you all do NEXT year:)

  25. It’s no fair that so much creative talent should be consolidated into one family! Simply lovely and amazing in every way!

  26. I want to be like her also, what a loving sister you have and a beautiful family tree. Thanks for a glimpse into your incredible family

  27. WOW!! You have an amazing, creative family! And one that loves and respects each other. You all are a great example of how a family should interact. Sending warm wishes and hugs!

  28. What an extraordinary, creative gift of love!!!!!!
    You are ALL so very lucky to have each other!!

  29. Teresa Gonzales :

    How personal and beautiful. Your family is so talented!

  30. Created with love and imagination. I, too, would love to see a clear closeup of the tree so I can marvel at it even more!

  31. Smiling through my tears. Wow,Wow,Wow.

  32. What creative talent that you are able to take into your heart every day.

  33. Ding! Thank you Whitney for the lightbulb moment.

  34. Lanita Anderson :

    What a wonderful idea and a wonderful gift!!! Oh my goodness….I’m sure each of you were thrilled to receive your “family tree” this Christmas! Such special memories…not to mention family history at its finest! Blessings to you….

  35. Irene Kimball :

    Brilliant, thoughtful, honoring, loving, sharing, encircling, revealing, reveling, happy, sad, respectful, inspirational, questing, completing, encompassing…..what a treasure for your family.

  36. Debbie Esparza :

    Just beautiful and heartwarming, thank you for sharing. You are truly blessed.

  37. How amazing and creative!! I know your brother has made some incredible gifts too…y’all are one talented bunch. Happy New Year, my friend! xoxo


    What a lovely gift! You will treasure this forever. KariAnne, you have been blessed with a wonderful family.

  39. Oh my! What a fabulously talented family you have. That is one very meaningful family tree. I love it!

  40. Wow!!! That is such a luvly gift. I want to be Whitney when I grow up as well 😀
    What a beautiful piece! Luv it.

  41. What a talented family….

  42. Wow, I’m in awe. Seriously a wonderful and unique gift. What a treasure!

  43. KariAnne,
    Is there a how-to book in Whitney’s future? If not yet, some editor/publisher/agent should realize what a great seller they would have… Whitney’s Creations and How You Can Make Them.


  44. Cheryl Autrey :

    What a Precious gift of Love from you Sister! Brought a smil and a warm feeling in my heart. You are Truly Blessed with a Wonderful family. Thank you for sharing such a Beautiful part of your life with us KariAnne.

  45. What a treasure! You have such an amazing family, KariAnne!

  46. I held my breath looking at that amazing, creative, oh so personal tree. It is rooted in love and blooms in perfection!

  47. I have a whole box of letters in my basement from my hubby of 38 years from before we were married, I am going to go get them and read them again!!

  48. Oh my truly speechless you know how I love memory keeper. In tears truly precious and priceless gift. Hugs to your sister for touching my heart in Hooterville. Haha

  49. What an awesome gift.

  50. Priceless and precious. An amazing heart gift!