Blended Family Memory Jar

Photo by Monkey Business Images

Now that the holidays have passed, New Year’s resolutions are here!

It’s time to drop those pounds, quit drinking soda or coffee, and start flossing regularly. Most people look at the beginning of a new year as a chance to “quit” something bad as opposed to “start” something good. How did resolutions begin anyway? It is believed that the tradition of resolutions dates back to 46 B.C., in which a mythical god of Rome named Janus (i.e., January) influenced the ritual.

Janus is called the god of beginnings and transitions. Also believed to be the god of gates, doors, doorways, time, and endings. Portrayed as having two faces, one pointing to the past and the other towards the future, the Romans offered sacrifices to the god for undesired conduct and made promises of good behavior for the coming year.

Thus…resolutions!

According to one popular magazine, today, approximately 45% of Americans claim to make resolutions. Of that, only 8% are actually successful in achieving what they set out to do. 

What dismal odds!

Why do people keep making resolutions then? I suppose it’s for hope of better things to come. The notion that we can always improve and that God has forgiven us despite ourselves, so what is there to lose?

As a stepmom, my sins and mistakes are often highlighted or magnified…at least I feel that way. Perhaps I am the one who makes them seem bigger than they truly are. But at any rate, my feelings that every move I make is under a microscope and I’m being watched by little eyes is evident to me. I’m not sure if I have an inner sense of guilt because I “forced” divorce on my biological daughters or because I feel like my stepdaughters want to catch my mistakes in order to report back to their mom (reality tells me this isn’t true, but the pressure not only to perform but to perform well is there).

This year, I propose not necessarily making resolutions (unless you want to challenge yourself in that way), but instead starting a “memory jar” with your blended family to really focus on the good in life, as opposed to quitting the bad.

While I can’t remember where I found the idea, it seems to serve as a positive way for us to reflect on the past 12 months and to recollect the fun experiences we had. Our memory jar is simply a plastic cup. I cut up tiny strips of paper (they have printable ones online if you’d rather be a bit more organized), approximately 1” x 4”, and set a stack beside the cup.

Starting January 1st, if we have fun doing something one night or just want to remember a moment, we write about it briefly on the piece of paper, fold it up, and drop it in the cup. On New Year’s Eve (or whenever we have a chance to celebrate at the end of the year), we pull out the cup and read the memories.

This past year, ours ranged from watching a minor league baseball game and getting to see some of the players who live with my in-laws to “friends day” with all the girls, which is when they each invite a friend and we go to Starbucks. Visiting Santa Claus with my sisters and their families and going to Holiday World were all great memories. Other than seeing pictures, we don’t often reflect on such fond memories we’ve had or made, so that time of reading everyone’s favorite memories is special.

Blended family or not, recall and celebrate the exciting memories you are making with loved ones. Out with the old mistakes; in with the new start!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

– II Corinthians 5:17