When my parents returned home from New Year’s Eve parties, they always had noisemakers, glittered hats and oversized glasses with an outline of the new year, and a table centerpiece. There was usually a Mylar balloon for each of us. This morning my mother texted me to wish me a happy New Year from Florida. I wished her the same and asked if she brought home my centerpiece. My phone vibrated. She’d taken a photo of it at least. Traditions, the quirkier the better, are perhaps my favorite things. I hope to make more of them.

This year, I’ve already taken out the double handled “Memory Jar” and set it upon our dining room table. Over the years I’ve read that New Year’s resolutions just peter out and make us feel like failures, that they don’t stick, even the easiest of them. Last year, I vowed something simple enough: to watch more movies! And, still, I couldn’t keep the resolution! But, I’ve also read that this one activity was actually worth doing, so our family is giving it a try. Throughout this year, if there’s anything we want to remember, we’re scribbling it on a scrap of paper, and folding it up, and adding it to our “Memory Jar,” to be read on January 1, 2016. Or on December 31, 2015. Depending on our plans. You get the idea… it’s tradition and making memories and keeping memories all at once.

I also like that it’s a reminder to focus on the positive, to fill our lives with joyful moments worthy of remembering. Though, in truth, most of the things we really remember are the times when everything goes terribly wrong and how we still manage to laugh.

I also hope to fill more frames with art and pages with words. Sharpening pencils, dipping brushes into paints, oh glorious art supplies, you bring me such joy. Remember this, this year… I’ve written about it before: make sure that the amount of time you spend on things accurately reflects what you want to be remembered as/for.



  1. In our family – we have ‘the book’. It happened sort of by accident – we are a funny word-loving group – pun upon pun – rolling language around in our mouths to share delightedly together.

    For years- we would write down the funniest riddles or phrases that came up in our frequent conversations, on scraps of paper and stick them in a box on mom’s hearth. About 8 years ago, at Christmas when I had no money to spare, I decided to compile them in ‘the book’. A handwritten history of the quirkiness of this lovely family.

    It chronicles funny times, tragic times, life times, death times…because in each of those, humor resides. We can focus on the bad, or focus on the funny. We choose the funny.

    My gram (dad’s mom), who passed away 2 weeks shy of her 99th birthday, was the matriarch of humor and everything else. Actually – on the 5th January of she would be celebrating her 110th birthday…she does live on.

    When my son was a baby, and my dad and I took him to visit her in San Antonio, she was sitting in her big chair in her assisted living center, surrounded by all of her favorite things and her favorite people and just pleased as punch. As she looked around, she came up with this family favorite…(imagine a 95 year old Texas accent)…”I’m just as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.” We didn’t know what to do, or to say…dad and I looked at each other like ‘what the hell? do we call the nurse?’ – but she beamed and smiled and was truly the happiest she had ever been. That’s the name of the book – “Happy as a Dead Pig in the Sunshine”.

    So – through the years, the book grows. When mom was in her death and dying phase last year (that she didn’t succumb to, thankfully), we had band names named after her worst treatments… “Busted Trochanter” for the part of her hip bone that broke after surgery, was our idea of a folk band and “Fulvous Babbler” was our nickname for her wound vac that sucked toxins out of her body for months. We had “Occluded Carotid” – when dad has his stroke, “Necrotic Phat” when mom’s wound turned poisonous, and so on.

    Every evening we gather – and about once or twice a week we come up with one for ‘the book’. New people come in – they rarely make the book, but sometimes they do. We date the scraps, put the initials of who was present – and feather them in the pages of the book. Once a year, I transcribe the new ones into the original book – and we laugh and laugh! I highly suggest it.

    Happy near year to you and yours. :)

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