Christmas Love Journal

Susan Branchwww.SusanBranch.com

December 23, 2010

So there are two beloved things that I enjoy combining at this time of year. Wait, 3! First and most obviously… Christmas! Followed by writing… and the simple adorableness of Susan Branch illustrations. Seven years ago now, my family began our Christmas Love Journal. It’s a standard-sized leatherbound scrapbook from Hobby Lobby, and there are pages and photos from each Christmas, all “scrapbooked” together with SB stickers and papers. Being a family with children, it is especially wonderful to peruse previous years and laugh in wonder at the changes in our kids (and in ourselves of course).

We start with a printed page. At the top of the page it says CHRISTMAS Year ______. Then there are spaces for Attendees to the main soiree, location, time/date, menu… then we get to the really good stuff! First we each list “Our Favorite Memories Of This Year”… one person (the one with decent handwriting hopefully) fills it out for everyone, although of course it could go Round Robin during the day’s festivities for each person to fill out their own! We do enjoy sitting in a group though and talking our memories and ideas out loud.

Then on to our past and future question… we call it “Reports and Resolutions for the New Year”. Reports on last year’s resolution, followed by resolutions/goals for the new year. These range from “get a John Deere tractor” (Luke, aged 5) to “plant a secret garden!” (mom) to “replace pasture fences” (yours truly)… the following years reflect TOY (but alas, not real) John Deere tractors received, secret gardens planted, and yours truly becoming truly adept at fixing electric horse fences before finally marrying into Talent and replacing the old fences together (and then selling out and moving to Montana with our new baby!).

Of course no scrapbook journal would be complete without lots of photos… we like to supplement ours with crayon drawings by the youngest members of the family, showing a Christmas family scene. The fuzzy Santa Claus hat makes the rounds of heads and photographs… there are lots of warm flannel PJ’d squirmy bodies tearing open Christmas wrapping paper… pictures of the loaded-but-not-yet-visited Christmas tree on Christmas morning… we include one of our Christmas photo greeting cards for each year… when family members are absent (or in another state) we have special emails or telephone calls to get updates for the Journal. Even if you are a family without small children, the Journal can reflect your own (and your friend’s??) goals and joys, parties and memories. The idea is to reflect and record – all of us have lives worth remembering!

We love this Journal, plain and simple. It makes hearts melt to sit down with the big brown Journal in our laps and slowly turn the pages and laugh, joke, and tear up over the pages and photographs. It’s wonderful to follow in the pages the birth of the youngest member of the family, followed by her “goals” (with a mommy-assist) of learning to walk and talk… followed by her own goals “I ride Bubba!” (mommy’s horse).

So. It’s December 23 as I type this. You have time to start your own!! If nothing else, write down some questions and fill it out during your own family gathering, take lots of photos, and fuss over setting up the perfect Christmas Love Journal next month, when January’s cold winds drive you indoors and there are no more presents to buy and wrap, goodies to bake, or parties to visit.

And when you do print out your pages to fill in, remember to print a few extra (on adorable paper of course) so that next year’s setup is a breeze. The craft stores (and of course Ebay etc) sell Christmas sticker/scrapbook page sets, which are wonderful. There are lots and lots of styles, in case you are more Retro, Classic, Country, or Elegant… whatever your cuppa, there are stickers and pages out there for you! And once you get started, you may find that this becomes a beloved family tradition of your own family!

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