January 11, 2019

2018 Year-End Post (Albeit Belated)

As I've mentioned before, although fewer and fewer people send annual holiday greetings, I continue to treasure this tradition--both the receiving of cards, letters, and photos from friends and family near and far, and the preparation of my own annual update.

Each year I try to provide a relevant update embedded in some creative format. In most cases, I've also published a year-end blog post that incorporates the holiday greeting for that year. Here is a link to a summary of past years' greetings.

This year I gave some thought to why it is that I hold onto this tradition. It turns out there are many reasons:

-I like good old fashioned hard-copy versions of things. Case in point: I still use an old-style calendar/planner. (I am a little horrified to see the finger prints smeared all over my 2018 edition, but look at how fat that one is as compared to the fresh and new one for 2019. Isn't that just marvelous?)  My calendars serve the joint purpose of being a planner and a historical record of life events. This is important, given that I'm not a regular journaler (I know this is akin to admitting my other dark secret ... shhhh... I'm the only children's author I know who is not a huge fan of the Harry Potter books. Sadly, this admission may flub any chance I had of realizing my dream of working with Arthur Levine on at least one book at some point in my career. Sigh).

Anyhow, even though I don't journal in the traditional sense, I do write a variety of things down in my calendar, and I keep them year after year. I'm actually very particular about my calendars. I can only use one with this specific layout (MTW on the left, TH/FRI on right, Sat/Sun on bottom right). I've tried using other formats before, and I feel completely out of sorts (not to mention risking all types of scheduling mistakes). Wednesday absolutely must be on the lower left and Thursday absolutely must be on the upper right... Nothing else will do for me.

I should also note that my planner doesn't really take the place of a journal. My planner is mainly filled with appointments and to-dos, not "memories" or feelings. I do occasionally use a monthly calendar to write down memories. I kept a calendar of this nature for both of my pregnancies and for the first year of both of my kids' lives. (This was at the suggestion of a dear friend of mine who isn't a writer, and who I regularly encourage to journal. Go figure!)

I'm a blogger of course, and also a letter writer. I've written long letters to friends in Australia (though admittedly those have slowed down over the years), and I'm still old fashioned when it comes to hand-written thank you notes. When my kids were little, I wrote them letters on the eve of their birthdays (guilty confession: I petered out on this when they got a bit older, mainly because the energy it gook to parent them, sapped me of the energy I needed to reflect on their current ages and stages and write about it...do you see a pattern here?) Since my daughter has headed off to college, I've started the practice of writing her letters about her childhood. This has been therapeutic for me, and enjoyable for her. I've also written to my son, who is still in high school, a few times, and I aim to step up my letter writing to him this year (no need to wait until he goes off to college to connect with him in this way).

I've also been fairly diligent in about writing (journaling, actually) during family trips to faraway places, and I typically write debriefing notes to myself after major trips and/or major life experiences or events. This  brings me closer to the reason that I value the ritual of creating my annual holiday greeting. This tradition provides me with the opportunity to reflect and remember, and then share. When it comes to powerful or emotional topics, I'm one that needs to ponder and mull on things before I can write about them. I admire people who can write about "today" today, but that's not me. The more intense the emotion or situation, the longer it will take for me to get it down on paper (I particularly admire the people who can reflect on and poignantly write about the current events/state of affairs in our country and our world. I'm still thinking about and pondering the injustices of last week or last month, while these speedier processors are writing about events from today or yesterday.)

But, once a year, I sit down with my calendar, and I gather up the events of the life I share with my family, and I make sure to get it down on paper. I take into consideration what is going on in in terms of world or local events (or familial themes), and I try to share our family's story in a format that is reflective of those world events or familial themes. Past greeting formats have included trail maps, graphs, trading cards, and game boards.

This year, hashtags were a big part of our national conversation ... and so hashtags factored heavily in my #2018 #Holiday #Greeting. #HappyNewYear #Friends. Here it is:

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