I, Angie Lucas, hereby present the easiest journaling strategy ever imagined by woman:
Have someone else write it!
Last Fall, I organized a two-volume tribute album for my Grandpa Bill to present to him on his 80th birthday. And I only had to come up with enough words to fill a single, 4 x 6 card! I outsourced the rest of the writing to my multitudinous relatives. Some of you may remember the album from pages 42-43 of Quick & Easy Photo Albums.
Here's the Story
I was in charge of a craft project at our summer family reunion. So I brought a coordinated product line and a bunch of supplies, and I put my relatives (ages 11 to 55) to work. We assembled 85 journaling cards, assembly-line fashion, right in front of Grandpa, in less than 2 hours. Why 85? This particular octogenarian has four daughters, four sons-in-law, 17 grandchildren (most of them married), and 37 great-grandchildren. When we started creating, we told him it was just a random "scrapbook project," which is about all you have to say to most males to send them sailing for the door. It didn't matter anyway, as he spent most of the time kicking everyone's butt at horseshoes. He wasn't even suspicious.
Aunts Can Be Wonderful Assets
Then, each of my aunts took enough cards home to distribute to their families, instructing everyone (even the kids) to write a memory of Grandpa, a note of thanks, or a list of admirable traits. I followed up with everyone by email, asking them to mail the cards to me with accompanying photos. They could choose a favorite picture of Grandpa, a self-portrait, or a shot of the two of them together. I gave them a strict deadline, and most complied.
Absolutely No Pressure Allowed
This part is important. In my follow-up email, I reminded everyone that the purpose of this album is to present a wide collection of memories, impressions, and thoughts. They don't have to fit the whole of their experience with Grandpa into 4 x 6 inches. And this doesn't have to be their biggest, best, most transcendent memory of all time. Their only job is to contribute a piece to the collective experience, to simply write enough to fill the space.
Did He Like It?
Grandma says she finds him looking through it all the time. And he can't talk about it without his beautiful blue eyes getting teary. (I'm not just saying this. He has the best eyes in the whole wide world.)
Grandma turned 80 six months later. Tune in Thursday to see the album we assembled for her!