There is one special item that gets pulled out at my parents’ house every December. It has been with our family for 32 Christmases: the ones full of joy, the ones tinted with sadness and mourning, the ones with wild toddlers, and the ones with kids coming home from college. It’s a time capsule of hair styles, holiday fashion, and memories. SO MANY memories. It’s our Family Christmas Book and it’s the history of our family.
The history of The Family Christmas Book
The book itself is a humble, basic red book printed in 1979. But now, after filling it with 25 years of memories, it is thick and bursting with Christmas cards and hard copy photos taped to every page. The idea of the book is that every year you include a photo of your family at the holidays from that year, and a copy of the Christmas card you sent out. One side of the page is for writing how you celebrated the Christmas season, and the other side is for you to write down your memories of the past year.
I am so thankful that my mom committed to writing in this book year after year in a positive, grateful and honest way. When I was a teenager flipping through the book one year, I remember one entry where my mom had written that the year was a tough one for our family financially. For some reason, this really stood out to me. Our house was such a happy place growing up, I would have never known if we were ever struggling without reading our Christmas book. I love that this book allows us to remember everything – the good and the tough. I love remembering our Christmases crammed into my grandparents’ house with all of my little cousins. Christmas plays at church. Photos of us scared of Santa and then loving him again. Memories of vacations, broken bones, and dance recitals. The year when my grandma passed away. It’s just one basic red book, but it is an absolute treasure to our family.
I asked my mom what The Family Christmas Book means to her. “It’s the history of our family, in words and pictures” she said. “I look forward to reading it every year and remembering all the fun and all the special times. It’s bittersweet too, as I remember Christmas time with my mom. She loved Christmas as much as I do, and loved to make it special for her grandkids.”
Starting my own Family Christmas Book
The Christmas after I got engaged, my mom gifted me my own Family Christmas Book. I was shocked and so touched to see that she had found the exact same red book from 1979 for the little family that I was now creating. She included a card on the inside that makes me tear up every time I read it:
A gift for you as you begin your new life with Ryan and begin to create your own Christmas memories! I love you, Mom
Now, eight years later, my Family Christmas Book is beginning to fill up. Pictures begin to fill up with two little boys. Memories of the past year fill up with less vacations and more baby milestones. A life that has spanned multiple states. Christmases spent in different homes. One day I’ll be looking back at this book filled with 25 years of memories that our family has created and I’ll be so thankful to have had this red book. I already am.