Monday, February 04, 2013

Jar of Happy Memories

 I'm usually pretty good at remembering the larger joy-bringing experiences in a year (who isn't, I guess?); I'll be the one who'll be sighing and saying dreamily to my kids in January, "Ahhhh.....Remember hanging out at the pool every day last summer?" and smiling. I still say things like, "I remember when you two were toddlers and we walked around that path every single day in the spring with the double stroller! Aw, loved that." (When what I'm also thinking is, "Aw, I remember the rare and blissful day when the two of you took simultaneous naps! Loved THAT.") I also have a knack for recalling entire seasons of discontent in a sort of vague, hazy way that blocks out any memories of the good stuff--or threatens to.

When it comes to remembering the tiny, heart-leaping moments in a year--the time a stranger on the street paid you a compliment, or the day you all went outside and watched the sunset together, because it was just so beautiful--most of us fall short. As happy as those moments are when they happen, they generally get crowded out of long-term memories by all the other things we're supposed to remember: the field trip permission slips and what you actually came to the grocery store for, for example, or how to log on to your child's online school account.

Which is exactly why I fell in love with this project I'm doing with my kids this year the second I heard about it on Facebook. (Doesn't everything interesting come from Facebook, really? Just kidding. There's always Pinterest. (Kidding.))

On New Year's Day, I put an empty Mason jar on the kitchen counter in reach of the children. Next to the jar I placed a tiny notebook and a pencil. Then I explained to the girls that this was our Jar of Happy Memories for 2013. Every time something really nice happens to us--not the expected, quotidien things like, "I had a playdate," or the jar would be filled up by March, but the unexpected or unusual moments that really make a difference in our days--we write it down on a small slip of paper and put it in the jar. On New Year's Eve next December, we will open the jar and read all the slips of paper. We will remind ourselves of all the wonderful things that occurred in 2013.

These memories don't have to--and likely won't--be life-changing events like getting a puppy (no) or buying a new car (no). In fact, they shouldn't be those types of things, because we tend to remember that level of happy memory without help. The Jar of Happy Memories is for the moments we'd likely forget if we didn't write them down.

We've each put a slip of paper in the jar so far: the time my friend Ulrika told me she would never have guessed I'm in my forties (love her forever!); the compliment Julia got on her new haircut at school; the fact that a new boy at school told Genevieve that she's his best friend. The children choose what moment is jar-worthy for them; I do the same for me.

Won't New Year's Eve be fun? Can't everyone use a Jar of Happy Memories? I think so.

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