Hi everyone! Welcome to December! Over the years, December has become my favorite month. One of the biggest reasons is the December Daily tradition.
I created my first December album in 2007. That year, I took Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas class and created the whole album. Shimelle's class comes with many prompts and daily ideas. Some of which didn't apply to me or my life at all but I still did each day's page and created my own versions where her ideas didn't work for me. By the end of the month, I was completely in love and knew that I would be doing this every year, no matter what. I just loved that during this otherwise hectic season, I got to slow down and take time to document each day as it happened. Here's my 2007 album:
The next year, I discovered Ali Edwards' December Daily idea and I fell in love all over again. I liked the idea of building my book ahead of time so that all I had to each day was to sit and add my photos and stories. I could take 10 minutes one night and 2 hours another if I wanted. I also liked that there weren't predefined topics. While that works wonders for some people, I preferred the flexibility of writing about our ordinary day sometimes and not making the whole book holiday-focused.
So in 2008, 2009, and 2010, I made a December Daily book. Over the four years I've done this project, I've learned some things about myself and how I like to make the process work for me, so I thought it would be fun to share three of my ideas with you in case you've decided to embark on your own December Daily journey this year.
(my finished book from last year, they are super fun to look at year after year.)
1. Use Google Calendar to plan
If you're a fan of a different calendar program, you can use that, too. I use Google Calendar for my personal use so it is really easy for me to create another calendar for the month of December. What I do is to create a calendar for my husband and I to share and I put all the plans we have for the month on that calendar. This way, we can both add to it and alter it.
Over the years, we've built up a list of places we go to each December. Some of these are far away and more involved (like an amusement park) and others are just a quick drive to a local neighborhood to watch the lights, etc. I try to balance each week so we do some of the more involved events each with and then sprinkle the small stuff throughout.
Remembering Activity Ideas
Having a calendar is also a great way to keep track of all my ideas. I use this method for all the "do at home" items. I randomly put them down for a particular day and then can always move them if we decide to do something else on that particular day. Here are some examples: baking cookies, watching holiday movies, writing a letter to santa, building gingerbread houses, etc. The nice thing about having them all there on the calendar is that I remember them and can use them on any particular day.
Remembering Photography Ideas
Similar to the section above, I also use my calendar to jot down things I might want to photograph. Putting up our tree. Decorations in our neighborhood. Crafts my kids are doing at school. The sheets we use (I have a special holiday set.) Christmas PJs. Wrapped presents under the tree. Christmas morning breakfast. I even like to take photos of my craft table or my work table so that I have a record of it year over year. I also have personal traditions like having a full page of tulips each year and making sure to include my word for the next year. Having many of my ideas sitting there on the calendar allows me to actually get up and take the photo when the reminder pops up on my screen.
For me, the calendar has been an indispensable and productive tool for my documentation. I don't feel like it limits me because I don't feel bound by any particular item on it. They are all suggestions and ideas in case I find that I want to do something but have no ideas. In 2008, I even made a page about my calendar.
2. Don't put dates ahead of time
I will start by saying that I've never done this before. However, as I went through my journals from the last few years, it was obvious that some days took up 4-5 pages while others barely took up half a page. There's bound to be some uneventful days when you're documenting 31 of them consecutively. Each year, when I make my album, invariably there's a day or two that I struggle with content. While you can use my third idea (see below) to fill those days up, it's also nice to not worry about it. So this year, I decided to make an album with no dates. Normally, when you put your album together, you go ahead and date each page so when you're adding content later, you know which day is which. My album this year is just a bunch of stitched together pages with no dates on any of them.
This year, I used Mary Ann Moss' Remains of the Day class to construct my journal. I stitched the whole thing together.The pages are half-embellished as always and I can just add photos and words if I want or I can add a lot more. The only extra thing is that I don't already have my numbers. I will also put those as I go along. This way, I can take 5 pages for one day and half a page for another if I want. I can even skip a day if I so choose (gasp!). I went through my journals from the last 4 years and found out that I average about 75 pages per album. So I put 80 pages in this book and I feel confident that all the days will end up falling where they might.
If you're feeling stressed about keeping up with it daily, I recommend you don't put dates ahead of time. This way it's just a book you work on over the month and you add whenever you want, however you want. It's just a collection of stories, photos and thoughts during the month.
3. Use uneventful days as an excuse to craft
I've noticed that some of my favorite pages in my books are the ones where I just had crafty fun. I like to do this every year and it's a good reflection of the kinds of things I'm exploring at the moment. Here's a page from last year that I still love:
Here are a few more examples: felt and leaves, snowflakes, another tree, rubon fun, and a random dress. Most of these are just for fun. I like the excuse to have some fun. They add variety, texture and joy to my books and I recommend them wholeheartedly.
4. Savor the process
Ok, I know I said three things but I didn't want to end my post without telling you what I think matters most. One of the greatest gifts I've received from doing a December Daily album is enjoying the season so much more than we used to. Because I am doing this book, I plan more activities for us during the holidays. I pay attention to the small things more. I take more time with my kids. And, at the end of each day, I get to sit down and reflect on the wonders of our day. On the big and the small stories. On the joyful moments. I get to revisit our photos. I get to retell and relive the moments. It gives me the most amazing gift of appreciating our life as it happens. Being in the now and feeling grateful for it. It's truly the biggest joy I experience. So, my recommendation to you is to make the process work for you. To not rush it and try to get it done. The idea is not to have the most perfectly put together book. The idea is to have a keepsake of all your stories and moments from December. To appreciate and document life as it happens. So try to slow down and savor every single moment.
I hope some of my ideas will help make this project more manageable for you and that you take the time to document your holidays.
By the way, I have grown to love this project so much that I decided to continue it on for all of 2012. I am doing a year-long journal that I will update several times a week with stories from my week, small and big moments that I am grateful for so that I can learn to pay attention to and appreciate my life as it happens. It's sort of a combination of December Daily and Project Life. I call it The Savor Project. Since my word for 2012 is Savor, I thought it was the perfect reminder to appreciate and savor every single moment of my life.