I've attended the Craft & Hobby Association tradeshow once or twice every year since 2006—maybe even since 2005, although I don't have the photographic evidence to prove it.
In those days, the CHA tradeshow could occupy multiple halls and multiple floors, and in order to see everything you needed a delegation of people working together to plot out routes, make appointments, take notes, trade notes, and tell you which booths were "must see." All crafts from yarn to paint were represented, but there were years that saw 2/3 of the available booths taken up by scrapbooking and memory-keeping businesses.
The above picture is actually from Memory Trends (a now defunct tradeshow that was held yearly, alongside the two CHA shows). In those days, manufacturers, magazines, and industry folk were getting together every January, July, and September in Anaheim, Las Vegas, Chicago, and even Atlanta. It was like going to a family reunion three times a year.
Here we are at CHA-Winter 2007 in Anaheim, the year Simple Scrapbooks magazine turned 5. It's funny. In my mind, 8 or even 10 years doesn't sound like it was really that long ago. It feels like 2007 just happened. Until I remember that's the year I got my first iPhone. Haven't we had iPhones FOREVER? Until I look closely and see how young we all looked (especially Addie, ha!).
This is a good reminder of something I often think: I'm not getting any younger. So no matter how "old" I think I look today, in 10 years I will look back on whatever picture I'm about to take and be surprised at how youthful I looked way back then. I always just take the picture, knowing the future me will appreciate it.
Friends of BPC at CHA in 2013: (back row) Nic Howard, Angie Lucas just before a donation to Beautiful Lengths, Heidi Swapp, Wendy Smedley, Tami Morrison (front row) Becky Higgins, Lisa Dickinson, Tracy Clark, Elise Blaha-Cripe, Amy Tan
Over the years, CHA has gotten smaller and smaller, going from from multiple halls and multiple floors to just one portion of one hall. The yarn and paint aisles have remained roughly constant (or so it seems to me), but the scrapbooking aisles keep on dwindling and consolidating. It's always a bit sad to see at first, but it doesn't take away from my favorite part—the familiar faces and the instant connections with crafty ladies from all over the world.
I'm still a keeper of memories. Always have been. Always will be. (You'll see some scrapbooky posts in the coming weeks.) And since the latest product trends have never been my biggest memory-keeping priority, I really didn't think I'd miss being at CHA this year. For me, it has always been about the story.
I enjoy the cute papers, punches, pocket products, washi tapes, and all the modern memory-keeping trappings as much as the next person. But I feel no real pressure to personally incorporate product trends in my scrapbooks. When I look back on my pages 10 years from now, none of the products I've used will be "on trend" any longer anyway. In the year 2025, I won't care if I used techniques that were popular in 2010 on a page that was created in 2015. I will care about the pictures, I will care about the story, and I will be grateful that I took the time to capture a memory. And of course, I'll probably remark on how young I looked way back in 2015 (wink).
Yes, I had plenty of reasons to stay home: I'm no longer officially employed within the industry, CHA was early this year and I didn't even think about travel plans until after Christmas, it's been a hectic winter, my California sister (who provides my free place to stay) had just spent a week visiting here, and we're busy trying to adopt again. But as I've watched my Instagram and Facebook feeds fill up with #CHA2015 posts, I found I missed it all the same.
Of course, there's always next year...
My Challenge to You
Don't shy away from the camera this year. Allow yourself to be photographed, especially with people you care about. You will thank yourself later.