By Boot Recruit Myra
In my very small collection of family heirlooms is a series of letters my granddad wrote my grandmother in the early 1920’s. While on a trip to New York, he spent his evenings telling my grandmother about the “big city”. These mean more to me than the few random pieces of costume jewelry or embroidered “hankies” in the tiny box. They are my only window into the lives of people I loved but never really got to know well. Distance made it virtually impossible for us to spend time together. I didn’t pay much attention to these letters until I became a parent and as I read them, I noticed elements of granddad’s personality that are evident in my children. Those treasured letters inspired me to create a family journal.
What I didn’t expect was how beloved this now two-volume journal already is to my children. It contains random notes, and “isms” (the sayings our children created) more than it is a record of events. It was never intended to be written in daily but for “that moment” when what was done or said created a spark, as testament to the fact there are notes on restaurant napkins, paper towels, and half-torn paper place mats from fast-food establishments shoved in between many pages. Most entries are only a sentence or a word, often taking less than 30 seconds to record. There are pages with titles like “Lilly Isms” with an assortment of sayings she’s made over the years. One of my favorite “Lilly Isms” is a one-word journal entry from when she was 2 years old which is “covered”. For you see, there are no “cupboards” in our house. They are all “covereds”. Makes total sense, everything on the shelves in the kitchen are covered (with a door)!
It’s a volume of side splitting funny moments, poignant observations about life from a child’s perspective and a window into who they are and what makes them tick. Strangely enough it also serves as a reminder to our kids of how much my husband and I love them and want to preserve these verbal treasures that continue to bring us joy.
In fact, today our youngest suggested I tell you about our family journal. “Why?” I asked, while thinking how random her comment was. “Because there are many families whose mom or dad can’t be with their children since they are serving in our military. Maybe if you tell them to journal, and they share their notes back and forth, they can feel like they’re together even when they can’t be”. Brilliant!
There comes a time in every family’s life when work, illness or other difficult circumstances creates absences. In those protracted separations, a simple journal can keep parents connected to their children. Sharing first words, or your child’s own “isms” with parents, or grandparents who can’t be with them, allows for a continued relationship to grow. It gives them a window into their developing personality and a connection to what makes their child tick. Most of all it makes everyone feel included even when they can’t be together, which is more than a treasure but an heirloom filled with love!