The Journal. A Christmas Gift.
“Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us.” ~Oscar Wilde~
Christmas was almost upon me and I could not think of a thing to give my sister. The year before I had given her a journal, a journal to write down her thoughts, her memories, something to leave behind. I had kept journals for years and thought that perhaps she would enjoy it too. That it was a place she could write memories, thoughts, whatever she wished and that way her boys could have those memories when she was gone. The look on her face that Christmas told me that a blank journal was nothing she wanted! I wasn’t going to make that mistake again the following Christmas!
I started to peruse the Internet for ideas on what to give her, something that would be a memory. Searching and seeking for that perfect Christmas gift, and something she may remember for many years to come. My sister gives the utmost care in selecting gifts for those people she loves. She is the type of person who believes Christmas gifts should not be practical but something that the other person would not buy themselves, something fun, something frivolous.
I couldn’t find a thing. But then I read this wonderful lovely story about a woman and her daughter, passing between them “The Yellow Shirt.” A truly inspirational story of a mother’s love, and one that her daughter carried with her always, and one that would be etched forever into my own memory. I wanted a gift like that! I wanted something that would invoke laughter, tears, memories, something that when my sister and I were gone, our children would have in memory of the love my sister and I shared.
That is how “The Journal” began. I went out and bought another journal to give my sister that year. Only this time I did not leave all the pages blank. I wrote the instructions on the front page. I took a picture of her “big sis” underneath the Christmas tree, and glued it on the back page. This was to be our private journal, something we were going to do together.
The instructions were, that first year I was giving her the journal, and I would write my entry, whatever it was to say. And once it was in her possession, she HAD to write her entry, and then choose a Holiday, a moment, the next Christmas, the choice was hers, but she had to pass it back to me. The rules were very explicit, she had to do this, after all I am the big sister and she is the little sister. And the big sister is supposed to get her way!
There are eight years between us, and I love to tease her about the times I had to baby-sit her, take her with me everyplace I went, she was my little tag around. But when we grew up, we truly became best friends.
I saved that gift until the last. Everyone at that time had unwrapped all the gifts, waiting impatiently for Christmas dinner, and telling us to hurry! Watching the expressions on everyone’s face, hoping it was not going to take that much time, unwrapping that last gift. I watched my sister’s face opening that gift and it was priceless. I could tell she was thinking, “Not another journal!” I laughed as she began to pry open the pages.
She laughed, she cried. I laughed right beside her, I cried right beside her, and our tradition began.
It was the perfect Christmas gift.
We have been doing it now for a few years. Year after year that journal is passed between the two of us. The pages are starting to get worn, we have added many pictures, we have added many memories, and laughter and tears stain those pages. It is always the last gift opened. And every year, and I mean every year the kids, (now grown for the most part) grumble and moan and fuss, and say, “Here they go again!” “They are going to cry again!”
But one year, my sister’s oldest son did not think we did The Journal. It was my turn that year and I told everyone that I did not write in it that year. That they all complained too much and I did not want to waste their precious time, waiting to get to the dinner! One by one as I looked around the room their faces all took on the gasps and the look of disbelief. They sat there, they did not move to go and prepare their plates to eat, and they did not move to go about their own business. They waited.
And then I pulled out the last present underneath the couch. The Journal! They started to laugh, and said, “Here they go again!” All was right in their worlds once again. The Journal was carried on in the tradition. Even though they had never read one page, even though my sister and I had never shared the inside contents, they came to expect that gift. Year after year they had their own tradition, making fun of their moms, but that one year when they least expected it, and thought it was not going to be, they were upset, because it broke tradition.
This year is my turn! I guess I had better get to writing!
This is a wonderful inexpensive tradition you can start of your own. It doesn’t cost much to buy a journal, and a pen.
But the memories are priceless.
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