Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Journal Letters

I believe it was my dad who coined the term “family journal letters”. He was a big proponent of journaling; and his most often took the form of letters to his family -- which made sense as, at least for as long as I have been alive, multiple someones in my family have always been on missions or living out-of-state (if not out of country).

While many of my siblings have embraced journal-lettering periodically (typically when living far from home), it is my oldest brother Mark who has been the most dedicated of us all. He has been journal-lettering for 30 plus years now. His letters used to arrive in my parents’ mailbox from wherever his military life took him. They’d then be placed in a wooden letter holder in the kitchen (along with a copy of my dad’s most recent letter, and any sibling missionary letters) for family to pull out and read while eating or passing time at our large kitchen table.

Mark’s letters still come fairly regularly -- though now, to our individual email inboxes. Each time one arrives, I want to print it off and snuggle up in bed and read it totally distraction free, but I can never wait, so I read bits and pieces out loud to anyone nearby (and they always pause to pay attention because they know Uncle Mark’s letters are good). His life is adventurous, he is witty (occasionally bordering on hilariously inappropriate), amazingly descriptive, thought provoking, and the best there is at re-creating family scenarios and conversations.

Lately, his daughter Ashley has been going through these letters of Mark’s; occasionally posting a tiny snippet to one of our facebook walls if she finds a few sentences that refer to us. As I’ve read a few of these bits, it hasn’t been so much the great writing I alluded to above that has struck me, rather, how cherished these everyday and often ordinary glimpses into life with his kids and wife now are to his grown children.

I’m not exactly sure what it is I type on this blog. It’s not perfectly clear to me if I’m journaling or essaying or what. And my writing interests and style have evolved since I began blogging. (And surely will continue to as I change and grow.) Sometimes I’m simply recounting a holiday or a vacation. Often I’m sorting out my thoughts. And in recording births and conversations and posting pictures, much of it is fairly journal-like, but, I think I’ve pulled away from much of the strictly journal sorts of posts because . . . I don’t know. Those posts are likely boring to those who aren’t incredibly connected to us? I enjoy using this space to flesh out new thoughts and ideas? I want to avoid the things that might sound braggish (my kid got one billion A’s on his report card, etc.)?

BUT, I’ve decided that I am going to stop worrying about that and start occasionally tossing in a very ordinary journal-type entry. One where I may, in unflowery language, mention regular (or irregular) happenings around here without worrying that my post has to be anything particular. I won’t, of course, try to make these entries exceptionally boring, but I won’t worry about my audience as I write them, and I will label these posts as journal posts so that those who would like to may freely skip over them. (That doesn’t mean, of course, that I won’t ever wax on poetically in these posts, nor does it mean that I won’t type things in other posts that might have fit more neatly in a “journal post”. It simply means that if, going in, my intention is to get down some more regular things – without worrying about creating something more interesting to a broader audience – I will title it appropriately.)

I do have a journal of course. Two, in fact. A regular journal and a spiritual journal. And, if my goal were just to have another journal – but with pictures added in, etc. -- I could do an entire seperate blog privately. But, I’m starting to feel a bit scattered what with printing little Instagram books, and needing to get caught up on photo books, and not writing enough in my own journal, and printing my blog into books. So, for now anyway, I am going to just supplement whatever it is I already have going on here with the occasional run-of-the-mill post about an ordinary day or regular happenings in hopes of recording a bit more – for my kids – of the things they might most like to remember in the future.

I wanted to write one now, in fact, but I’ve used up all of my time writing this rambling (and mostly unneccesary) explanation. Blast my inability to be concise! Well. How’s this for concise then:

I’m taking Abe to get his learner’s permit today.

Mike showed Jesse how to use our copier. I now find copies of fans, and Legos, and Summer’s discarded hairbows, and birthday invitations all about the house.

Goldie is currently a “peer leader”. (A position she was able to apply for once in 6th grade that allows her to help run the school store during lunch, participate in school assemblies, and . . . sort papers for teachers. Haha.) But she loves so much feeling responsible and involved that it makes me happy for her.

Anders found a bugle in our closet. (Is it a bugle? And . . . where did it come from?) After some time of spitting and blowing fruitlessly, he has become unfortunately skilled in getting sound out of it.

There. And some pictures:

(Also, when I used the word “irregular” in the above post, my mind starting saying – in, a British accent, I think? – “Irregular! Highly irregular! Most irregular!” But I don’t know why. Does anyone know where that might be from?)


Linn said...

Whatever you write, whether it be flowery or just regular, makes me happy. Seeing your gift of words and reading your dad's book, makes me think your family is just really gifted in the word area. I'm glad to be a happy recipient.

(Speaking of, I was sharing my favorite books of last year on the blog and went back and referenced previous posts on that subject and came across what I wrote about your dad's book: It made me all kinds of happy. And now it has special significance to me because my Gram gave me that book. So I will love it forever for two reasons.)

Nancy said...

Oh! That made me so happy to read that again. I still remember how fun/funny it was for me reading your too books last year and thinking somehow "Oh! My dad's book! That's nice of her to mention that!" -- as if somehow you knew. I forget I don't even have the same last name as him anymore! That was such a fun coincidence! I'm so glad you like it, and I might need to pull it out to read a few of the stories again to my kids!

Nancy said...

*top books last year

Marilyn said...

Yes! No shame in the journaling posts, and knowing you they will be lovely. I know how you feel though. Like everything I write should somehow be--"worth" writing. "Worth" what and to who, I don't know, but it is enough to paralyze me often enough. I hate it. I mean--who's blog is this anyway?! (I tell myself). Anyway, bring on the catalogs of the mundane! I LIKE reading that kind of update post from others. Other people's lives are just interesting to me, in all their seeming ordinariness!

This journaling letter idea though, is quite intriguing to me. I'll have more questions in a future email…

And of course seeing Linn's comment above I had to follow the link and see about your dad's book, which led to me looking for it on the library website (not there) and on Amazon (yes! Ordered) and subsequently learning that he wrote a book called "please bless Marilyn" (thank you) which has a completely amazing cover. I knew I liked your dad. :) PS to Linn, I loved the Peacegiver also. I thought it was going to be trite at first (that EFY-ish "parable" structure) but it is powerful and profound.

Marilyn said...

OH and on the all important question of "highly irregular." I can hear the same thing, spoken in a sort of spluttering voice, perhaps by a British colonel in India--that type of character--which makes me think of, I don't know, jungle book or Peter Pan or something. Hmm. Sam also finds it familiar but we can't figure it out.

Nancy said...

Oh yay! Well, you'll get a nice feel for my home life growing up -- though, most of these were written when I was very small, so there were more things afoot with nieces and nephews and the like during most of my life (especially since we had a studio apartment in our basement, so often a sibling and his wife and kids lived there with us while finishing school, building a house, etc. But mostly my dad will be so pleased to know of the resurgence of interest in his book :) -- and, with his faltering strength and failing hearing these days, making him happy is my happiest thing! So thank you both of you!

And yes to the "highly irregular"!! Exactly. One of us will come across it sometime and be like, "Oh! THAT's it! Of course!"

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