First, my big confession is that, in reality, I am a horrible scrapbooker. I have such lofty intentions to keep them for my children. I love the idea of books filled with clippings, pictures, memorabilia, little notes on funny or endearing things they said or did, records of their first smile, word, tooth or step. All beautifully decorated and bound. And I have all these things in bits and pieces in a large box just waiting for me to get it together enough to actually do it. But alas, it just does not come easy to me. But letter writing does.
My husband and I have written letters to each other every New Year’s eve since we first met. We seal them up and keep them for the following year– when we read last year’s letter and write the new letter to be sealed. To be sure, these are not award winning letters. We don’t try to be overly witty or sentimental or stress over the perfect flow or wording. We just write what’s on our hearts, some thoughts about the past year, some dreams of the upcoming year..sometimes we include a prediction or two. Light, sincere and fun. That is what keeps us doing it.
This year we are adding another letter tradition for our children. For Valentine’s Day we will be writing them a letter. Because they are very young, and because we intend to give this as a gift to them when they are older, we’ll write the letter and then keep it in a special book. I bought two small scrapbooks, with pages that will fit the size of a standard envelope. I’ve glued an envelope, face down so the letter can go in and be sealed on the first page. And I’ve also indicated the date and year on this page. Maybe I’ll embellish later, maybe not. I purposely tried to keep this simple so I wouldn’t get intimidated.
While, I am sure some years we will want to write a letter free-form, I also brainstormed some topics that we can pick from that I think would be very special to have chronicled. Here are some of my ideas:
Describe how your pregnancy went. Any cravings, dreams, aches and pains? Did they move a lot, hiccup, respond to someones voice in the room? Were you working or at home? Did other siblings know of your coming? How did you prepare for their debut?
Describe the details of the day they were born.
Talk about who they take after. Describe their features, expressions, personality– let them know who in their family shares that (“your toes look just like Aunt Cat’s”).
The story of how they were named (even if its ‘just a name we liked’). What were other names you considered? Did you and your husband have a hard time choosing or agreeing? Did you know for sure before they were born or did you wait to hold them in order to confirm the name? Are they named after someone special?
“If I had to guess, you will grow up to be…”
“This is my prayer for you“
“What I Know is True”- What values and beliefs you hold true and dear that you want to pass on
“This is what life was like when you were young” (describe what the world is like now- how we travel, where you live, what you do for a living, state of world affairs, who you spend time with, what you do for fun)
The man called your Daddy/The woman called your Mommy. Consider describing your spouse in a letter for your children.
Some of these letters may be very short and sweet. Some may go on for a few pages. Don’t worry about the details, your handwriting, your spelling. Your children will be so grateful for this treasure of YOU– and your love and honesty will be the only things shining through.
Do you do anything special to give to your children when they are grown? What other letter topics do you think would be fun to write?
I started keeping a journal, of sorts, for my oldest son when he was about a year old. I mostly was just began recording things that he did or that were happening…now I have four kids and four journals and it’s really hard to keep up with! I’ve been thinking, though, that I need to make this an even higher priority because it is a great gift that I can give them! Sometimes we go back and read entries from when they were babies and they really love it…I have also let them draw in a page here and there or trace their hands, sort of a record of their growth, I guess.
A great idea! For my five-year-old daughter, I write a little note with pictures to go in her lunch on school days. I started doing this in September because she was beginning SK at a new school and was having lunch at school for the first time. After a couple of months, when I thought she was comfortable, I skipped a note. Later that day, she asked me where her note was and could I please not forget next time. Apparently, it’s the ‘best part of the day’ and all her friends read them too! She’s saving every note for me to bind together at the end of this school year. I really like your letter idea too, especially for Valentine’s day. Your blog is very informative and inspiring 🙂
@stacey: I love the school note idea! So many things I’m looking forward to doing when mine are a little older…
@becky: wish I kept better journals for my children, they will surely be a treasure for you and them- and having them “contribute” is such a fantastic idea!
Like Becky, I have a journal for each of my three children. I began each journal during pregnancy (actually, as soon as we began trying to become pregnant). There are some huge gaps (like 8 months) between some entries (yikes!) Usually, I schedule this writing time into my planner each month or two. My kids also love reading a few entries here and there and sometimes “write” themselves a little note when they are toddlers. Rather than simply tell them what they are up to at different stages, or the giftings I observe in them, I think I should sometimes just tell them a bit about me – their mama. I loved getting to know my own mom as an adult but she died 6 years ago and now I long for still more insight into who she was – her hopes and dreams and childhood…
This is a beautiful idea! This year I wrote myself a letter after Christmas and put it in my stocking for next year. I can’t wait to open it and start a new tradition.
@Kika– Great point! I love the idea of writing about yourself, your dreams, hopes, passions, interests…Surely our children will want to know us in this way.
@Joy– I love it! A yearly letter to yourself…hmmm, that just may be a birthday tradition I start this year 🙂
As the RECIPIENT of one of these journals, let me tell you that it was, and is, my most treasured and favorite Christmas gift ever. My father kept a journal for each of his three kids during the year we turned 4, and we received them on the Christmas we were 15 (the numbers seemed kind of arbitrary, haha). It’s such an amazing snapshot into who I was developing into and how my father saw me, and it’s filled with all the hilarious quotes that 4 year olds make.
DEFINITELY will be doing this my daughter, and I’m not waiting until she’s 4 years old either! (although, to keep the “tradition” alive, I’ll probably do a year-journal for her that year 😉
@kristine– what a treasure to have! my inspiration to find something that actually worked for me (because journaling consistently wasnt happening even admist my best intentions) is when one of my best friends told me of the book she has from her first year of life…her mother penned one line for every day- either something small she did new or simply something about the day and it is one of her favorite things to read through.
It is amazing to reflect how upon adulthood these are the things that we hold so dear– not the gazillion plastic gizmos that went through our toy box through the years!
Yeah, my journals have big gaps in them, too! Which I always feel bad about, but I just keep going back and writing when I can. It helps to keep them out on a bookshelf or something where I they remind me to pull them out often…my hope is that when they are ‘done’ there will be plenty of memories there for the kids to read about!