I decided to start keeping a journal. I hadn’t kept one for several years. I guess the reason I started again was because we had recently moved to Iowa and I was far from family and friends. That journal would be the first of many. I have kept a journal nearly every year since that time. Much of what I wrote, and still write, is very ordinary. I suppose it might seem silly to write down such mundane things as what we had for dinner or what the children did for entertainment. However, looking back and reading them now that the children are grown has given me a new perspective on the process. I realize now that keeping a daily journal gave me a way to complain about some things without hurting the feelings of anyone else. Writing things down helped me work out problems and vent frustrations. Looking back over a week or a month or a year let me see patterns in my life. It also let me see a balance between problems and blessings.
Now that I’m older, I love the fact that I included a few details like the prices of things. I even kept careful records of expenses for a couple of long trips. What surprised me about my Iowa journal was how much cooking and sewing I did!! I sewed dresses and suits and costumes for lots of other people. There are entries about making apple cobbler, dozens of cookies, homemade mayonnaise, roasts, cakes, candy, breads…I was Martha Stewart! LOL (Don’t ask me what happened- the new, lazier me just evolved.)
I’m going through my journals now to glean some information about trips and moves and such that corresponds with the slides we just scanned. I promised my scrap-booking child that I would do some documentation for her.
I won’t bore you with a day-by-day account of my life. I’ll just include a couple of the first entries. What I want to encourage you to do is keep your own journal. Even if you are older, it will be a rewarding experience for you, and you will leave a lasting communication for your children. (And future genealogists will love you for it!)
That brings me to the dilemma that confronts many of us who keep a journal. Do we really want our children to see them? What about negative or angry entries? What about “secrets”? I’ve been tempted at times to destroy my journals because some entries make me sound so weak and self-pitying. Some make me sound like a hateful witch. But isn’t that the reality of our lives? Do I want my children to have the impression that I was some sort of saint, that I didn’t make any mistakes in my life? No. I expect my children, if they are even interested in reading my journals someday, to understand that I did the best I could with my life. I said and did things that were a result of who I was and where I was at the time. Everything I have ever done- good, bad, and ordinary- has made me who I am today. And I’m pretty satisfied with this old woman. As Mama Della once remarked about someone: “She has her good faults and her bad faults, but she’s worth knowing.”
120 E. Third St.
October 30, 1975-Thursday
Decided it might be interesting to keep a daily journal. Then I could look back over the years and laugh!
Today I was busy with last minute work on the kids’ costumes. Mary___ paid me $4.00 for her daughter’s two blouses. Went trick-or-treating with Sandy and Sharon and all the neighbor kids. The wind was chilly, but we had fun and the kids got a lot of candy.
October 31- Katrina, Robert, and I went to Muscatine with Sandy and Keith. Looked at furniture. Had lunch at Mr. Quick. They had a 19 cent burger special. Went to the parade at 6pm in Wilton. The girls marched with Sandy while Gary and I watched. Karen was a clown, Katrina a ghost. Katrina won 50 cents for third place for her costume. There was a wiener roast afterward. Sure was fun!
Okay, not Pulitzer material by any stretch of the imagination. LOL But that, too, is interesting. The journal from 1975 is full of short notes about children, family, friends, activities. Other journals are introspective and have much longer entries. Each year is different. Make this the year YOU start your own journal. Enjoy.