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12/20/13 – One tradition you might want to begin with your family for the new year is a memory jar. Grab any jar and keep it in an accessible place. Filling it is pretty easy. Keep a note pad near by and your family members  can jot down memories, sign their names, date it, and stuff these memory scraps in the jar. Let the youngest ones dictate their memories to you and pop them in as well.


It’s interesting what different family members regard as significant enough for the memory jar. Good grades on a test probably won’t get in. Watching the neighbor’s puppies born probably will. Your five year old may stuff in a new memory each day, your teenager may add one only at your prompting, you may tend to write down funny things the kids say. But if they’re not noted and saved, chances are they’re lost.


It’s helpful to have a “no grudge” rule. Memories don’t have to be happy, of course. The most powerful are probably those that aren’t. Your daughter may write…..


I was really scared when Kyle wrecked his bike. We went right to the hospital. We waited a long time and I fell asleep watching a TV high on the wall. Kyle got a blue cast on his arm and I was first to sign it.


There are plenty of options that go along with opening and sharing the tidbits from your Memory Jar. A memory jar is usually opened at the end of the year, with a new jar then started. The day the jar is opened, the memories are read. You might want to do this on Christmas or New Years, or any day important to your family. Store these memories safely. It’s easiest to start a new jar every year. Label last year’s jar and tuck it in the back of your closet. If you’re ambitious, carefully scrapbook each slip of paper next to photos or turn them into a photo collage to hang on the wall.


While a memory jar is well-suited for family use, there are other great ways to use this random-memories-on-scraps-of-paper approach.


For couples, why not start a Memory Bank? This is best made with an  opening no bigger than a piggybank. This way the memories each of you contribute can’t be fished out and read in private. It’s a way of noting little tidbits about your lives together without the pressure to contribute. Of course a “no grudge” rule is still important. And when a Memory Bank is shared by a couple, it’s best to make it a long-term project. Vow to keep it sealed until your 10th or 25th anniversary or some other far off date. By then neither of you will care if she contributed 95% of the memories, you’ll both simply have fun going over recollections you thought were long gone.


Make and save life‘s memories this year!