New Year’s Day is just about my favourite day of the year. I know, this may surprise you, given my rants about the ridiculousness of New Year’s Resolutions in my previous blog post, but there’s something about New Year’s Day that’s really special to me.
New Year’s Day is the day where we sit down as a family to open up the contents of our yearly Happiness Jar, lovingly labelled with “Things that made us smile”.
You’ve probably seen posts about the Happiness Jar concept floating around the Internet, but I’ll summarise it briefly so you get the crux of it. Basically, you grab a big jar and a post-it notepad, and at the start of the year, you start to write out things you’ve enjoyed, or happy moments you’ve experienced each day, and you fold them up and place the notes in the jar. At the end of the year (or in our case, on New Year’s Day) you tip them all out and read through them all, and reminisce over the year that has passed.
We are pretty lax on the “every day” note writing, but nevertheless, our jar fills up over the course of the year. Some days get multiple notes. Some weeks have none. We write when we feel like it, and there’s nothing that’s too trivial to be included.
It’s a beautiful way to remember stuff you’d otherwise forget, and in our house, it’s become a wonderful tradition all of it’s own.
We started our original jar back in 2012, and since then, our kids have gotten involved in adding their own memories. Their personal highlight notes this year included drawing a big cartoon penis, and adding a note that said you got trolled!! It cracked me up, and they thought they were absolutely hilarious.
Because nothing emphasises great family memories better than mutual bonding over poorly drawn cartoon dicks.
Comedy gold, right there.
As I mentioned, there’s nothing too trivial for the jar, and I absolutely loved seeing how eagerly they were waiting for us to come across the notes they had written, snickering with mischief as they tried to act nonchalant. In fact, that moment right there is the first note that I’m writing for the 2018 jar.
Although our jar has been limited to input from just the four of us up until now, this year we discovered that my dad, who stayed with us earlier in the year, had actually snuck in a note of his own, knowing that it would make us smile when we discovered it on New Year’s Day. We loved it. It seems the jar is evolving! Thanks, Dad.
Overall, I think it’s easy to remember the big things that happen in our lives; new babies, big holidays, new houses. You don’t need to write those things down for fear of forgetting them. But, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: in a full life, the little things ARE the big things. Yet, those are the things that are so easily forgotten.
The Happiness Jar brings all of those little moments back to the present, where they belong, at least for the morning.
Our notes this year were all about small, every day things: playdates, and coffee dates, and visitors, and surprises, and jokes, and little victories we celebrated at school, and work, and home. In short, all of the things that made us smile, in between the big events of the year.
It reminded us, that despite the fact that 2017 was a really challenging year on a number of levels for all of us, there was literally AN ENTIRE JAR full of amazingly great things that happened. Things that could so easily have been pushed aside by some of the sad and stressful events of the year, had we not taken the time to write them down.
This morning, possibly more than any other year, I was so thankful for this jar, and for the joy it brought. And I’m just so glad we kept it going.
If you like a bit of reflection at this time of year, go ahead and rummage up a jar, and get started on one for this year. It doesn’t have to cost a thing to do; our jar is an old coffee jar, with a bit of ribbon recycled from a Christmas present, and a label written on the back of an old bill in black texta.
It doesn’t matter what you put in there; it just has to make you smile when you think about it.
From my family to yours, may your 2018 be prosperous, joyous, and full of so many happy memories that your jar is overflowing.
Happy New Year.