December 27 is a good day at my house. By now I’ve managed to recycle the wrapping paper, sort and put away the boxes, and organize the new stuff, so the house is a little tidier and the kids are happily playing with their recent acquisitions. My December 27th tradition is to find a quiet moment (as quiet as I can find in a house with three teenagers and a six-year-old) to write down our Christmas-day details.
I always feel better once I’ve journaled about a big event like Christmas. That way, it doesn’t matter when I get around to scrapping the photos. The stories and the little moments I might forget are all saved—and it also gives me an idea of how much space I need for journaling when I do get the layouts made.
Sometimes, though, it’s tricky to write about Christmas. Some things are repetitive—how many times do you need to write "we opened pajamas on Christmas Eve," for example? And there are often just so many details to get down—it can get a little bit overwhelming. Then there are all those heightened emotions caused by the expectation and the sentiments. Writing about the holidays can be overwhelming.
If you’d like to get your holiday memories down but aren’t quite sure where to start, here’s a handful of ideas to help you give structure to your stories. Use them as a start and see where they take you.
What’s Unique?Even though our holiday traditions mean that every year we do the same things, every year always brings something unique. For example, since this Christmas fell on a Sunday, at our house we decided to just open our stockings before we went to church, and then we finished the rest of the presents after. This added a completely different feel to our holiday! What was unique about this holiday season at your house?
One MomentRather than writing about the day in its entirety, focus on just one special moment. One of my favorite experiences this year, for example, was watching my daughter Haley open a pair of jeans she’d been coveting since October. I’d orchestrated it so she was completely surprised—and her response (that scream of joy that only 16-year-old girls know how to make) made all my efforts worth it!
the Preparations Behind It All
the Preparations Behind It AllSpeaking of orchestrating! Women do so much to prepare for Christmas, and in those preparations is an abundance of stories that often go untold. Maybe you had an incredibly lucky Black-Friday find? Or an epiphany about the exactly right gift right in the middle of Target? The story could be where you bought the gift or the lengths you went to in making it.
HonestlySometimes (surprise!) not everything goes as planned. You could, of course, sort of gloss over the disappointing and/or difficult bits—or you could be honest and write about it. This year, for example, I could tell that my nearly-14-year-old son was deflated even though he got quite a bit of what he’d hoped for. I finally realized it’s because of his age, and that’s what I journaled about. Even at Christmastime, authentic life is always more interesting to read about than the glossy bits.
Draw Connections Between Generations
Family is such an inherent part of the holidays. Try journaling about connections between, say, your son and a great aunt, or your daughter and her grandfather. Or, try a different angle by writing about a deceased relative you used to see during the holidays and what you wished your child knew about him or her.
Undocumented traditionsEvery year, my kids receive a Christmas tree ornament. I started this tradition so that when they move out and have their own tree, they’ll already have some beloved ornaments to start with. But this year while I was shopping for ornaments, I realized that I’ve never written about the tradition. Are there any traditions you have that you haven’t written about?
How have things changed since last Christmas? What tradition from your childhood holidays do you miss? What conversations did you have that made you look at this year’s celebration from a different light?
The Impact of an Object
The Impact of an ObjectThe objects we surround ourselves with during the holidays become more important each year. Write about what a favorite holiday object adds to your festivities. One example: I give my kids their Christmas-eve pajamas in the same gift bag every year. The bags themselves (one is fragile and held together only by clear packing tape and hope) each tell their own stories!
Your Own Experiences/Thoughts/Realizations
Your Own Experiences/Thoughts/RealizationsIt’s easy, in all the preparation we do for others on the holidays, to overlook our own experiences. Take some time to write down what you thought or felt this year. What gifts did you receive that you loved? What did you experience?
Involve Someone Else
Involve Someone ElseSometimes the most authentic way to write about someone else is to get that person to do the writing! Ask your kids, significant other, family members, or friends to write down what they loved about Christmas. You could have them write about:
favorites: activities: little holiday details: Happy holiday writing!
little holiday details:
Happy holiday writing!