Last January I blogged about a project we were going to be doing as a family over the course of the year: we had an old fashioned sweet jar on the window sill that was going to become our ‘happy memories jar’. There was a pile of coloured paper next to it and the idea was that over the course of the year, whenever we felt like it, any one of us could write down anything at all we’d experienced that had made us happy and put that in the jar. Here’s what it looked like in January:
I’ll admit we got off to a flying start (the boys leapt on the idea and immortalised lots of little moments) but I wondered at the time if we would be able to keep up the pace.
It’s certainly true that during the year there were weeks and weeks where we forgot to write anything at all… but with 2014 well and truly over I can report that at midnight on 31st of December our jar looked like this:
So on New Year’s Day (we meant to do it on New Year’s Eve but I… er… forgot) we sat down to read them all. We took it in turns to take them from the jar and
criticise each other’s handwriting read them out. It took well over an hour and was so lovely! Some of the captured memories were more obvious things like our trip to Lego Land or the boys’ birthday parties but many of them were just little moments – cuddles in bed, my middle son saying he was proud of his big brother, my eldest’s reaction to the baby cutting his first tooth (“Well Done Mister!”) – things that I might have forgotten had they not been recorded by one or other of us.
It was also great to see the progress in the boys’ handwriting, particularly my five-year-old who was only four years and four months at the start of the year. The first memory he included was a picture of a stick man giving someone a hug and all his notes for the first few months are just things like “Mee and Daddy” (or name of other family member) but by the end of the year he’s written full and complex sentences.
I also really loved seeing what was important to us throughout the year. Some memories are mentioned by more than one of us which happened without the other knowing (we didn’t necessarily announce we were putting things in the jar and we certainly didn’t read any of each others’ until New Year’s Day) and there are also friends of ours that appear time and time again. It was really lovely to re-live the events and one of the reasons it took so long to read them was because we were reminiscing too.
One of the best things about this project though is how positive it makes you feel. I KNOW that 2014 wasn’t perfect; there were times when it felt like a real slog and we certainly had problems to face, some which we’re still dealing with now. But reading through the jar helped all of us to focus on the good times. It put a wonderful gloss on the whole year. And I’m all for that sort of glossing – the past is in the past so why dwell on it unless you’re thinking of the good stuff? Reading our memories together made us all, as a family, feel that we’d had a very good year. It was like all the memories were little shining baubles that we gradually piled up all around us and by the time that jar was empty the room was full of them; you could see their glow reflected in all our eyes.
2014 was brilliant. It’s true now.