This year, I am resurrecting something I made long ago, but let languish during my busy years of teaching, and now blogging, writing novels, and searching for an agent—My Christmas Journal.
What is my Christmas Journal?
It is a seven and a half by nine and a quarter-inch binder in which I record a miscellany of information about each Christmas season as it passes. I’ve actually started a second binder because the first one is full. The journal includes the recipes for the cookies I’ve baked and the amount of each type that I baked. At our peak, my kids and I baked a quintuple batch of Nancy Hebel’s Gingerbread Boys and Girls. The following year I made a note: “The mixer can’t possibly handle more than a 5x batch of gingerbread no matter how much you love them.”
I include menus for Christmas breakfasts or Christmas dinners I’ve served including how much of each item I made, or bought, or assigned someone to bring, and whether that was sufficient, not enough, or too much. (I prefer to err on the side of too much.)
I include advice for myself for the next year. For example, only a few years into Christmas journaling, I came up with the good idea that I should spend no more than one night staying up past 10:30 making or wrapping gifts for Christmas during the week before Christmas. Another year, there is a brief “Note to self: get Sharon’s Rocky Road recipe. It’s easy and its good.”
I punch and insert one of each of the Christmas cards I sent each year, as well as really beautiful, or cool, or sweet ones we received—including, of course, hand-made ones from the kids.
I also include a photo or drawing of the Christmas ornament we made each year. I loved to make a variety of ornaments with my kids so they’d have gifts for grandparents, teachers, aunts and uncles, and even now that they’re grown, I can’t resist making ornament gifts for family and friends every Christmas.
There are reading lists. My daughter Gen and I loved Madeleine L’Engles 24 Days Until Christmas. I recommended I begin reading aloud the rest of L’Engle’s Austin family books to her. Sadly, another year there was a note: “Read the Christmas books!”
I sometimes truly journal a page or two about a particular Christmas season. One year I did a page of thanksgivings, another year, after Christmas, a page of what I did right, so I’d remember to do it the next year.
I flip through my old journal and those special times with my kids are fresh before me. I look into the new one to see how many iced Christmas cookies I made last year and whether I should make the same amount this time. Thank goodness I at least recorded that much last year!
There is even an Ode to Tissue Paper, a little ditty I made up because Santa always wrapped my gifts in tissue paper when I was a child and so the crinkle and crunch of tissue paper in my hands is a delight to my spirit.
I can’t wait to decorate my new journal. Then maybe I’ll finally get around to sending out some Christmas cards. Merry Christmas and happy journaling to you!
P.S. Happy Birthday, Genny!