When I visit my hometown in southern Indiana to celebrate the Christmas holiday with my family, my mother and I take a day, just the two of us, to drive to Evansville to do some last-minute Christmas shopping and have lunch. It is a day I treasure and one that I make sure happens. This has been our holiday tradition since 2004 when I was still recovering, though mostly healed, from my June 1 bone marrow transplant.
I had forgotten the date this yearly outing began until I came across the brief December 15, 2004, journal entry while reorganizing my manuscript for the second edition of Rebirth. The entry provides no details of our interactions or conversations. However, it transported me back to that day, searching for the perfect present for my (then) almost-two-years-old nephew Aidan.
December 15, Wednesday:
Mom and I went Christmas shopping in Evansville yesterday. I found a Hokey Pokey Elmo and a play Home Depot drill at Toys "R" Us for Aidan. The drill comes with screws, bits, and a small plastic board in which Aidan can drill the screws. All the pieces are over-sized. The toy is designed for kids ages three and above, but Aidan loves toys that are similar to adult items, especially tools and phones. I think he'll really like these gifts.
'What a difference a year makes,' I thought after reading it. Christmas 2003 was scary and sad because I was diagnosed with leukemia on December 18 and chemotherapy commenced at 8:00 pm on Christmas Eve, so Christmas 2004 was a true celebration. I was healthy again. Joy, not fear, was the state in which I resided. Shopping, having lunch, and talking—about whatever—with my mother was wonderful; so wonderful that I have made sure that experience has been recreated every year since.This one-on-one time with her is special. I cherish it. It's our time to reconnect.
One reason to keep a journal is to preserve moments. An event or person you may not have thought about in years can be rediscovered by rereading your journals. That may not always make one comfortable, depending on the event or person, but it always provides an opportunity for reflection and self-examination. Rereading journals, or only select entries, provides the writer with information from her past that may prove helpful in the present or the future.
Should you come across entries that are inspiring or bring a smile to your face, mark those pages with a paper clip or a small post-it. This way when you are feeling down or going through a difficult time, you can immediately find these positive entries. They will remind you that life is good, they may improve your mood—even if only for a little while, and they may provide encouragement to make the changes necessary to transcend the situation or feelings with which you are struggling.
Take some time to explore old journals. You may be surprised and delighted by the discoveries you uncover in the pages.
Do you reread your journals? If so, what memories have resurfaced for you? Were they positive or negative and how did you feel revisiting them? I'd like to know your thoughts. Please leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I may use your response in a future post, so let me know if I have permission to reprint it. Thanks!