Capture Your Fleeting Holiday Memories

December 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Memoir Space

Joyful, Joyful © 2010 Bo Mackison

The Holiday season is a hectic time of year, crammed with to do lists, people to see, places to visit. And for all but the most stalwart of writers, composing anything beyond the grocery list or a Holiday greeting gets lost in a haze of “I should write this down, but there’s not enough time.”

No worries.

The Memoir Project for this month of celebration is not a writing project that needs to be done in the midst of all your busy-ness. It’s a small project, best done after the holidays. And it’s a quick project, best done when the celebrations are winding down or over, but family and friends are still near. It’s a project that will reap big rewards when you are trying to recall a Holiday memory from the near or distant past.

I’ve been doing this project since my mother gave me a small book 35 years ago, my first Christmas I was married. The title of the book was Holiday Memories and it was filled with blank pages — four pages per year for 20 years, four pages with writing prompts to record each year’s holiday memories.

Though my first book was a commercially made product, I made a second one when the first one was filled. It is simple to replicate this idea in a blank book or journal. (I recommend, while Holiday items are readily available, picking up a blank book with a suitable Holiday theme. Then you’ll be ready for that writing session scheduled after the celebrations.)

This is the Holiday Memoir Project. Each year, I adapt the questions to fit the situation of my family. You can adapt the questions to fit your Holiday celebrations.

Write a few sentences to complete each prompt:

  • Decking the Halls. What favorites decorated your home this year – greenery? candles? stockings? indoor and outdoor lights?
  • Trimming the Tree. What did the tree look like?  If it was a fresh tree, what kind was it, how tall, how did you get it? Who trimmed the tree? Were there new ornaments, hand crafted ornaments, heirloom ornaments?
  • Celebrating the Season. What special events were a part of the holiday season? Children’s activities? A play or concert? A dinner or caroling party? Get-togethers with friends and family? Holiday traveling?
  • The Big Day. Where did you celebrate? Who was there? Meaningful gifts? Special menu? Religious or cultural traditions? This year’s favorite moments to treasure?
  • Just for the Children. Copies of letters to Santa? A photograph or two? A holiday drawing or story from each child?

Ho Ho Ho Marry Chirstmas, circa 1988, by Jeanne

  • Memory Tuck-ins. Is there memorabilia that can be easily gathered now? The photo holiday card? Special cards or letters you received? Programs from concerts or shows?
  • A List of Gratitudes. What are you most thankful for? Be sure and take a moment to add this to your holiday writing. It helps keep the whole reason for celebration in focus.

One of our family’s Holiday Traditions now includes reading the Holiday Memory book. Each Christmas night, when most of the celebrating is over, we pull out the book, read the entries from past years, and then fill in the events from the current season. This is one of our most beloved family traditions. And it can be humorous, too!

How else would we remember the Christmas Eve, thirty years ago, when Uncle Conrad came bearing gifts in a Santa Claus suit? Or that his Santa outfit was so filled with newspapers that he crunched as he walked? Or that midway through his “Ho Ho Ho” greetings and his gift giving, his Santa pants took a downward slide? A long downward slide! We laugh like Santa every time we re-read that story.

And our family looks at the drawings and re-reads the little stories the children wrote when they were first putting pencil to paper. Here’s an example from my son when he was five:

A little green ball is on the Christmas tree. The angel on the top has heart wings. And a cone that holds her up that high. The lights are blue and red and yellow and hot. There are boats and bears and angels hiding in the tree. I see them. I think the tree is pretty fine.

So I encourage you to enjoy the Holiday Season, celebrate in your own special way, and then when the Holidays have come and gone, take some time to capture the memories — in drawings, photos, and most especially in your own words and the words of your family and friends.

It will be so worthwhile, years from now, when you read and remember these special times.

On a personal note:

This is the last article I will be writing for The Calm Space. Over the past year, the Memoir Space has given you many ideas for collecting your thoughts and memories. I’ve so enjoyed my time writing for the Calm Space, but find I need to turn my attention to my blossoming photography business.

I love Calm Space and will continue to be an avid reader and fan. And I thank Karen, from the bottom of my heart, for creating The Calm Space for all of us, and for giving me the opportunity to write for you over the past year.

Best wishes to you all.


Bo Mackison is a writer, photographer, and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She loves to travel and take her Seeded Earth photograph gallery on the road, participating in art shows and festivals throughout the Midwest and Southwest United States.


8 Responses to “Capture Your Fleeting Holiday Memories”
  1. Oh, Bo. I will be so sad to see you go. Happy for you and the prosperity of your photography business, but – oh – I will miss your beautiful ideas every month. Any chance we may still get the occasional piece out of you? You will be sorely missed.

    Thank you for this beautiful post and this beautiful idea. I have been hankering in my heart after something like this and it sounds like just the thing I’ve been hankering for. I intend to give this a try. Will let you know how it goes. :)

    Much love.

  2. Bo Mackison says:

    Thanks so much for commenting. I do appreciate your kind words. Hope you enjoy the Holiday project — mine’s been going strong for 34 years, a family tradition.

  3. Bo, thank you. Your thoughtfulness, your creativity and your heart will be so missed here at The Calm Space! I wish you so much success and fulfillment with your photography business – (anyone reading this – they are STUNNING!) – and hope to have you back occasionally as a guest writer :) The door will always be open, my friend!

  4. Robin says:

    What a wonderful idea, Bo! Thank you. :)

  5. Bo Mackison says:

    Karen, Thanks so much for providing me with a great place to share my Memoir Project. I loved every minute of it, and I hope many people were encouraged or inspired to do a project or two.

    Best to all.

  6. Bo Mackison says:

    Thanks, Robin. It’s fun family project, especailly with little ones near.

  7. Bo, what a beautiful idea you have provided here! And I loved your memories of Uncle Conrad!

    I too will miss your monthly articles here. Thank you for all of the ideas you have provided us with throughout the year and I wish you well as you continue with your amazing photography.

    My very best wishes to you and your family for the Christmas season. xxx