I'm still on the gratitude kick (even if I've failed miserably at keeping up with my daily 365 Days of Gratitude writing on Facebook). Thinking about New Year's has me thinking about the year-(almost)gone-by. The Christmas holiday just behind us, I'm also shoulder-deep in a desire to set more traditions in place in general for my family, especially for my 17 month old who will certainly turn 21 before I realize it. I've been perusing the internet and my heart for ways to close the Gregorian calendar in a fun and heartfelt way with my family. My formula for celebrating this year is pretty simple:
We'll likely join with other families from our neighborhood to have a barbecue (I live in the southern hemisphere) on the 31st. We'll all hang out, maybe wear some crowns while eating picnic food, then open some bubbly and decadent treats after the children go to bed (or sway to sleep in our Boba Carriers under the bubbles, because that's just the way it's done in babywearing party land, ha ha). I also plan to take time with my partner and child before the festivities, perhaps in the morning as a way to set the tone for the day, to take turns sharing with each other the things we are especially thankful for that happened this year.
On that note, I've got a special eye turned to 2014 as the year I set in motion a more dedicated, heart-felt practice of recording memories for my little family. Here are a few ideas I'm considering that revolve around the new year/old year theme:
Keeping a Calendar Card Box
When I was pregnant with my little flower, I started a project of creating a daily calendar out of index cards. I've got that stack about 2/3 written-up with the dates, but did almost nothing with it since she was born. It would have made a great baby book helper, but I've reserved those notes for post-mortum work between Christmas and New Year's. Basically, you take 366 index cards (one extra for leap year) and put the date on each. As the year goes on and something special happens, you write the year and the thing that happened on the dated card. It's also a great place to record birthdays. For example, July 25 was my daughter's first bath, so I wrote 2012 - [Flower's] first bath on the July 25 card. At the end of the year, I'd love to read through the special things that happened with my family.
Making Child-centered "Year Books"
Similar to the above, but more specialized is the big book of special happenings from the year. The idea is that you keep a family journal for the year of things you're grateful for, special events, etc. Of course, you could take this all the way to full scrapbook mode, or simply keep a simple list of things. I like the idea of doing one for each child in a simple art-based scrapbook style (I love drawing, doodling, and waxing poetic, myself). This could be done by calendar year, but also by birthday such that each child has one for their entire 2nd year, 3rd, etc, much like a baby book is primarily the first year. If you're more earth-based in your approach to time, you may consider recording winter solstice-to-winter solstice.
Starting a Memory Jar
Along the lines of the year book and the card calendar, this is the most spontaneous and kid-friendly version, I think. I saw this somewhere online a while back, then realized how popular it is when I tried to search down the source for my inspiration (as of yet unfound). You simply designate a big jar for moments of gratitude/joy/what-have-you memories, and as things happen that you want to include, write them on a paper and slip them in the jar. At the end of the year, you can take turns pulling out the slips and reading them aloud. I think this is a beautiful way to close the year with family. Each year's memories could then go into a manilla envelope that the children will adore looking through when they're adults (I would).
From my family, to yours, I wish you a joyous holiday season, and a really fantastic turning of the year. May 2014 bring all we're hoping, and more. See you next year!