At the end of every year I see a meme go around on Facebook about starting a ‘Gratitude Jar’.
If you haven’t come across this yet, the basic idea is to write little notes about the things you’re thankful for, put them in a jar throughout the year and then open it on 31st December and spend time reading back over all the things you’ve been grateful for over the last twelve months.
I really love the idea and every year I tell myself that on 1st January we’ll start one. Ours is affectionately called the ‘Happy Jar’ and we write about moments that we felt happy in rather than things we felt grateful for (though really there are a lot of overlaps). It was easier for the younger girls to get their heads round and it serves the same purpose 🙂
And every year we manage to keep it up for a couple of weeks and then forget all about it, like some uninspiring new years resolution, as the busy-ness of going back to school and work take over. I usually find it several months later discarded on a shelf in my office, dusty and hidden behind piles of paperwork that I haven’t got around to filing, a few sad little bits of paper sat forlornly at the bottom of it.
At the end of last December as the meme did the rounds on Facebook again I was absolutely determined that this time we’d follow it through and keep adding to it all year. So, on 1st January I tied a pretty ribbon around a decent-sized preserving jar that I’d bought from Tesco, cut up some coloured paper into small squares and popped it all in the kitchen where everybody could reach it.
The husband doesn’t really join in (he thinks things like this are a bit silly!), but the girls have really been getting into it. Ella in particular will often sit down at the weekend with a little pile of squares and write down all of her happy moments from the week and the things she’s looking forward to, one by one. Mimi and Lola tend to dip in and out – if they see Ella or me doing it they’ll often remember something that they want to add to the jar, but they don’t very often initiate it. That’s ok – I’m hoping that as time goes on it’ll spark their interest more and more.
I’m the one that contributes the most, maybe because memories are so important to me. In my mind, our memories make up the stories of who we are and therefore it’s vital to record them in any way you can because if you don’t record them then they die with you and no-one will ever really know you.
When my Dad died last year it really hit me how little I actually knew (and now, will ever know) about him – I’d never taken the time to ask him about his life before me, to tell me his story. I’d never heard him describe his memories of his childhood, or the things he got up to as a teenager, or the places he’d travelled to. It’s one of my biggest regrets and I’m going to start talking to my Mum about it a lot more when she comes up to visit us because I don’t want to miss out on hearing her memories, her story. I want to know her too.
Memories are why I started this blog – it’s a visual (and written) diary of the girls’ childhoods – the calm, the chaos and all the moments in between. A way for them to see themselves through my eyes. Hopefully a way of showing them how much I love them.
My gratitude journal (which I *should* write in every day but tends to be more of a weekly catch-up thing) will become a record of my memories too – all the moments (both big and small) that I’m thankful for.
And my #projecthappy photography project, where I take a photo a day, every day of the things that bring me joy, is another way I document all the good things in my world so I can look at them during the tough times and remember how blessed I am and how there is always a little bit of light in even the darkest of days.
This Happy Jar is another variation, but it’s something that we can all contribute to. This will be our story, written through all of our memories rather than just mine. Hundreds of little notes, covered in my and my loved ones’ penmanship, permanently documenting the things that made us happy. I’m really hoping that it’s going to become a tradition that we keep up year after year now. I plan to keep all the notes, so that I can pass them down to my girls when I am gone, so they can look through them and reminisce and remember all the fun we had together.
I can’t wait to open our Happy Jar on New Years Eve and look back over all of our happy moments. We’re over halfway through the year now and the jar is already pretty full – hopefully that’s a sign that I’m doing something right!