Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hugs, Chores, and All the Good Stuff for the New Year

When my children were little, we had a hug jar and a chore jar -- large, decorated Ball jars, that had little slips of paper inside with different kinds of chores and different kinds of hugs.  We got very creative as we invented different kinds of hugs to add to the jar, including everyone's favorite -- the Cha Cha hug. Each day after school, the kids would come home and draw a chore and the three of us would do that chore together and then each of us got to draw a hug out of the hug jar.  There would be hugs all around.  In our house, there were always more hugs than chores.  It was a daily ritual that highlighted for each of us that we have responsibilities, that doing them can be fun and so much easier when done together, and that there is a whole lot of love in our lives. 

By the time they were teenagers, the hug jar and the chore jar were collecting dust on a shelf in the family room.  But we started a new jar -- the fortune jar.  Every time we got Chinese food and opened our fortune cookies together, we would share the fortune, laugh a lot, and invariably those little slips of paper would end up on the floor, or in pockets.  I would find them on laundry day and put them, and the assorted toys and coins, in a dish near the washer.  One day I noticed an abundance of fortunes and put an extra Ball jar to use. This one was not decorated, but the rising level of fortunes felt like its own kind of art.  Eventually, fortunes were left on the table and added to the jar bypassing pockets and floor.  Sometimes I'd find the odd fortune here or there and add it to the jar.

And occasionally someone would walk by and fish one out when a bit of fortune was needed.  This jar did not provide a regular ritual, but one that could be called on when needed.

Today when I was online, I found a picture of something that sang to me -- a new jar, a new ritual for a new year.  Get yourself a jar and starting January 1st, write good things that happen to you on little pieces of paper: surprise gifts, accomplished goals, the beauty of nature, "LOL" moments, memories worth saving, daily blessings. Whatever feels good. Put it someplace where you'll see it every day. Keep paper and some Flairs near the jar so you always have your tools nearby.  Be artful. Then, on December 31st, open the jar and read all the amazing things that happened to you in the year. 

Its so easy to forget.  The amazing things.  The blessings.  Moments of joy and wonder.  We usually focus on the challenges, the stress, the things that don't feel so good, what's going wrong.  My guess is a jar like this could change your life. And mine.

The hug jar sits on a bookshelf in my living room.  The beautiful decorations my daughter drew when she was six have faded from the paper but not from my memory.  You can no longer read "Hug Jar" on it. But I will always know what it is.  I opened it tonight and drew a faded slip of paper -- Butterfly Kiss.  It is written in my daughter's little girl handwriting and has a tiny butterfly illustration.  All the other hugs were written by me. The jar hasn't been opened in ten years. I could almost hear a whisper of children's laughter. I think I'll take it with me when I get together with the kids tomorrow on New Year's day to celebrate Christmas. I smile when I think about it and realize it is the 20th Anniversary of the hug jar. The chore jar came later.

When I moved out of my house last year I gave away all my Ball jars. Too bad. Wouldn't it be great to give a New Year's jar to each of the kids for Christmas.  Well, I'll figure something out.  You knew I would. 



No comments:

Post a Comment