Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year, New Journal?

It was my dear, sweet, Grandmother Bessie who started me on the road of keeping a journal. Back in those days, however, it was called a diary.

The black five year diary on the left was the first one she gave me - for my 12th birthday in November, 1955. I began using it January 1, 1956. There were only four little lines to record each day. "Sunday, January 1 - I stayed at Grandma L's last night. Dad came and got us and brought us home for New Year's dinner. Took Grandma home this p.m."

How did that wise woman know a diary was exactly what a fanciful young preteen needed? You can see there was once a lock on the cover - not that those locks ever kept anyone's big brother or little sister out. My Mom cautioned me to "never write down anything you don't want someone else to know".

The amount of space allotted for each day was fine the first couple of years but by the third year I was in high school and had much more to write about! My five year diary became a three year diary so I had more space each day. In it I left this note (next to the white diary in the photo): "To whom it may concern: This diary represents three years of my life. Perhaps uneventful to some, but it holds many wonderful and not so wonderful memorys. (sic) May it never be parted from me or destroyed by anyone or anything. So closes the cover on three years of my life. Ramona Lynam" See? Fanciful.

Grandma Bessie also gave me my next diary, the brown one. This time it was a one-year diary - one full page for each day. I think I bought myself the pink one-year diary for 1960. Those puffy vinyl covers came in pink or blue with the teen girl in various poses. The small white diary was the one I kept during the last part of my senior year in high school. I kept all these diaries faithfully until the last one which I quit writing in the last couple months of '61. I hadn't read any of them for years until I started keeping this online journal and started going back to them to refresh some of my memories from that time.

It would be ten years beyond high school before I began keeping any kind of diary again. Journaling was what they called it in the 70's. Everyone was encouraged to keep a journal and lovely blank books started becoming available just for that purpose - no 'line each day', no pre-dated pages - just blank ones, lined or unlined. Somewhere I read that it was best to use an unbound notebook and that is where I began - trying to sort out what was going on in my life at the time - anything to help me figure out what to do. And it did help. A lot.

Over the years I've filled some notebooks before starting new ones. Other times I've stopped writing in one just to start a new one. I've been gifted some lovely, expensive blank journals which I cannot bring myself to use because I might spoil the pages. 

This is one such journal found Sunday in that old church box I gave to Doug.

Inside were these three beautiful holograms. The journal had already been started for me so I wouldn't have to fear using it for the first time. My daughter wrote:

Mother, Dear Mother

You are so dear to me
You gave me life
and gave me talent.
You gave me a mind to use.

You are so dear to me
You cared for my life
and encouraged my talent.
You gave me thoughts to use.

Watch me now
As I make something of my life
and employ my talent.
Watch as I develop my mind.
Watch me - please take care I
Don't stumble - a mother's eye knows.

Know as you watch,
I love you for all you've 
Done for me.
I may never know the sacrifices
But I know they're there.
Mother, dear Mother, thank you;
You are so dear to me.
        Love, Kari Leigh

Kari inscribed the "this book belongs to" lines just as Grandma Bessie inscribed the diaries she gave me. But Kari left the Date line blank. How long ago did she give me this gift? Was it for Christmas or Mother's Day or my birthday? Does she remember it and when she gave it? From the verses she wrote I would guess it was when she was in high school or perhaps when she left for college. (On the inside of the back cover is a copyright date of 1984.)

I keep thinking I am going to start writing in a journal again. It is a new year. Perhaps it is time? And maybe that is why Kari left the date blank, so I could fill in the year(s) this journal covered. If I can just make myself 1) not worry about what I write and 2) get back in the habit, I can begin writing again - sixty years after I started that first diary.
"Friday, January 1, 2016 - I am so mixed up about what day this is. It seems like a Sunday. We had fish and shrimp for New Year's dinner. I didn't make the proverbial black eyed peas for luck and prosperity, but I did accidentally burn some of the green peas I was cooking, does that count?......"

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