I think everyone can remember a favorite Thanksgiving or Christmas. For me, it was the year I got my first ballet shoes. It was a great year, not only for the present, but because both sets of my grandparents were there to celebrate. I know there are pictures of this Christmas somewhere, but they never seem to capture the wonderful feeling of that holiday. I wished for so long that I could remember how my grandparents felt about that day and that year in their lives. I decided to create a holiday memory book to document the times of my family and friends.
An earlier attempt involved trying to videotape every moment of the holiday. I quickly learned this wasn't the best approach; I didn't get a chance to enjoy the day, people really don't like a camera on them all the time, and I certainly didn't have the time to do a personal interview with each person there.
What I found as a better solution is using a scrapbook or journal with plenty of room for pictures and writing. I take either Polaroids or digital pictures and have each person write some thoughts in the album. Even the children can draw something next to their pictures. I use a list of topics for the holidays: name, memorable event, what was the best dish, what they are thankful for, what was a favorite gift, and let them make whatever other comments they want to add. I have found giving a format is helpful to those who find expressing their thoughts on paper about as fun as a root canal.
Preserving the Memories
Usually after the meal or gift opening, I take a group picture via timer with a camera or digital camera. This group picture goes in the front of the memory book. There is usually not enough time to read all the comments that same day; however, I pull the book out at the next years' celebrations. Everyone loves reading comments from previous years and looking at the pictures. It is a lot of fun to see how much things have changed in a year.
Some of the women were pregnant last year, and now there are sweet new faces for the cover of the memory book. Others wrote that they were looking for work and now have a job. And some of the children who could only draw last year are now writing their names. You can imagine the joy you and your family can have recollecting how time has flown.
The book serves as a great reminder of the people who are no longer with us. It's also wonderful to share with those who are out of town and missed last year's events. Take this year to create family memories that will last a lifetime.