Most of my newsletter readers know I'm a fan of old letters, diaries, and journals. These source materials are invaluable to me as I create relatable characters who face challenges, live through sorrow and betrayal, struggle with doubt, and act on their aspirations to achieve flourishing lives.
My godmother's diaries are an inspiration—seventy years of journal writing every day! Her diaries (and others) give me insight into long-forgotten challenges—like the entry: Wed. Feb. 20, 1924: Smallpox broke out at the Gordon Deneau farm . . . Who would have thought the Roaring Twenties included smallpox outbreaks? Or the entry about a cousin whose five-month-old baby died the day before; six weeks later, another entry documents that the cousin's husband had passed away too!
But more than these sorrowful entries, I marvel at the celebration of life, positive emotions, and strong relationships—family spending time together at picnics, festivals, dinners, and more.
I admire my godmother, who wrote in her diary every day for seventy years. I envy her for being able to look back through her entries at Christmas (or any other date), relive happy memories, and celebrate relationships.
This year, when I looked at many of her entries at Christmas, a light bulb went off!
Everyone may not be as disciplined as my godmother, writing every day, but think about the gift of memories people could give themselves if they picked one holiday, birthday, or other significant date and journaled once a year on that date. What a gift of memories and a keepsake to hand down for generations that follow!
How about it? Are you up for the challenge of creating that new tradition? I hope so.
Cheers, and happy journaling!