Our Family’s Annual Memory Jar Day

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Manic:  The many memories that our family made in 2014, some difficult and many joyful and I want to remember these days.

Managed:  For the second year in a row, we kept our family’s new tradition of placing happy memories in a memory jar throughout the year.  Then we open the jar together, on New Years Day to recall the experiences one last time before we officially move on with 2015. memory jar

Well as plans go, this New Year’s Day we couldn’t get our schedules coordinated (this happens when you have busy teens) to come together on Jan. 1st, so we decided to do it tonight, right before the holiday break ends so that we could take our time and enjoy the moment….and the moments of 2014 that each of us held dear.

We decided to enjoy one last calorie splurge, so off we went to dinner (one of our family’s favorites, Charleston’s) to savor the food and the jar’s delightful contents as we reminisced about days gone by this last year.

It is really fun to see what each of us deposited in the jar last January through this past December and to relive those moments with some laughs and discussion about the events of the past year.

Last year’s jar was all about the fun of it being the first time to have such a jar and teasing about how the guys didn’t participate with the jar filling! We got a good laugh out of that.

This year held a little bit of a different experience for me.  I realized this later after all had gone to bed and I started to write this post.  I had snapped two pictures of the jar for this article.  With the second shot, I didn’t look at what little memory papers were exposed until I emailed it to myself and copied it into this post.  Then I looked at the picture that you see below.  Talk about getting perspective.  I took one look at this picture below and I had to pause and think for a minute. memory jar noteYou may note that the paper shown celebrates both of my kids getting straight As.  You will also note that I dated that paper.  No others were dated.  The good grades happened early in the year, or I guess I should say late in the prior year since the grades were received in the mail in late December.  Well this hasn’t happened again and you know what….it doesn’t matter to me like it had before.  That is because the following weeks after this note was written would test us like no other time before when our son had to undergo multiple medical tests and a biopsy for a mass on his bicep.  The day after his biopsy he became ill with pneumonia.

A big life reality check when our boy has to have a biopsy for a tumor, that proves to be benign.  SO THANKFUL!! and we will never forget this experience.

A big life reality check when our boy has to have a biopsy for a tumor, that proves to be benign. SO THANKFUL!! and we will never forget this experience.

So he missed a lot of school last Spring, resulting in his first B instead of his usual straight As.  I want my kids to get good grades, but those letter grades no longer hold the same meaning to me as they had before. This is because when I got the phone call telling us that the mass was benign….well…that straight A report card just wasn’t as important to me that it had been before the big health scare with our son that will always make 2014 stand out in my mind.  Memories, perspective, gratitude.

The jar contents also made me laugh out loud with my family as we recounted funny memories and the cute ways each was expressed like our girl jotting down “big hole dug in yard for our new pool…no turning back now” and my son wanting praise for even contributing to the jar, even though his paper simply said “Happy New Year”….which by the way, son….is actually a 2015 memory, but that is OK because I appreciate that he put something in our little family time capsule.

It was sure fun to read single words that made us all smile with happy memories like “Maui” and “Nationals” which were two trips that were both incredible.  The Maui trip was planned out to every exact detail and we spent six months saving, scheduling and planning our Hawaii vacation.

Our view from our kayaks in Maui.  So pretty.

Our view from our kayaks in Maui. So pretty.

The Nationals trip was a complete surprise when our son’s hockey team won the State games to get to represent Arizona in the National competition, which happened to take place where my Mother and all of her family live.

We come home Silver medalists, but also winners because we got to see most of our Maryland family at the USA Hockey Nationals...what a gift!

We come home Silver medalists, but also winners because we got to see most of our Maryland family at the USA Hockey Nationals…what a gift!

Plus we came home almost undefeated, earning a hard fought 2nd place and a lot of respect from hockey teams around the nation that were shocked that these Arizona boys could play hockey so well.

Other family member memories mentioned included a special anniversary dinner out for hubs and me, a big part in the beloved Christmas Carol show for our girl, a surprise freelance gig that sent a film crew to shoot me cooking in my kitchen, a first job for our son, a new kitten, a quick summer trip to California to deliver our foster cat to his new home with our niece….and so many more cool moments that were special to remember together.hockey buddies

Lexi on stage CC pro picnight out with hubs bday

First day of another schoolyear

First day of another school year


Birthday cupcakes that my daughter made for me :)

Birthday cupcakes that my daughter made for me 🙂

Taking an hour together to recount the memories of 2014 was as cool as it was last year.  Then we each shared our #1 favorite memory from the previous year. Last year I had to think about the many options, but not this year.  Without hesitation, my #1 was no contest for any of the other amazing experiences and that was getting the phone call that my boy would be A OK.

My daughter had the exact same favorite memory (bless her heart).  Hubs called Maui his favorite and our boy told us that getting to start for his Varsity golf team was his favorite.  Now I would have never guessed that, which is another reason that I love doing the memory jar.  Jack DV golf 2014The jar gets your teens to talk and that is a pretty nice benefit of this family exercise.

So I am reminded that life is a journey and as we dive into 2015, I’ve got my seat belt on and my eyes are wide open so that I remember to truly take in the ride and to carefully navigate the unexpected turns and twists with the love of my family around me.  And if I get lucky, the jar will be as full as it was tonight, when one night next January, we once again sit down to open it together.

We keep our memory jar by the toaster and anytime one of us wants to toss a memory in, we do it without telling each other what was written until we take a look next year.  Try it because it is a cool and fun family idea that reminds us to take it all in and to embrace each day with love, patience, faith and gratitude.

Happy 2015 to you and to yours 🙂




  1. Jill Sears says:

    Putting my jar out now! Happy New Year Rachel 🙂