Image from barnesandnoble.com but available for cheaper on Amazon.When I was growing up, each of the kids in my family had a "School Book" that was given to us by my aunts. Once a year, we would update our books with the school photo from that year, a record of our height and weight, and information like the name of our teacher, our favorite subjects, the names of our friends, where we went on field trips, what we wanted to be when we grew up, etc. It was such a great tradition and I love having the book now. I was just looking through it the other day and bragging to Paul about how my 1st through 3rd grade report cards say things like "Amy excels at logical thinking and reasoning." That was in Nebraska where we didn't just get letter grades, but our teachers actually made comments about our performance. Once I moved to California in 4th grade, the teachers just awarded A's and moved on.
Anyway, the Birthday Book is so, so awesome because it is meant to be updated every year on or around the child's birthday. It asks things like who came to the birthday party, what were some of the child's favorite gifts, what does the child want to be when he or she grows up, etc. But it has other fun pages with "exclusive interviews" that change questions over the years but are more journal focused and include thought provoking little gems like asking a 5 year old about what was the last thing that made him/her sad or asking a 7 year old what makes him/her really, really happy. When the child turns 10 you are supposed to ask them what the top five things are that they think about all the time. There are also funny questions like asking a 6 year old how much the family car costs, who is the tallest person they know, and how tall do they think that person is. I asked my niece Elizabeth these questions last night and she told me after some thinking that her mom is the tallest person she knows, that she is either 10 or 89 tall after Paul prompted her that her mom would be so many feet and inches tall, and she guessed that their family car cost $100 million dollars (but she might have just been being silly by that point). I will stop going on about all the great things in this book, but you get the picture, I'm sure.
Another reason I really love this book is because in our adoption education, I have learned that no matter what, at some point in the adopted child's life they will experience a sense of loss - a sense of "my life would have been different if my birthmom had not placed me for adoption." And they will feel a loss of history - of family and past, etc. And although that cannot be replaced for the adopted child, I want to make sure that our children have a history and I think that books recording a childhood that they may only have vague memories of might be a way of developing that sense of self. The Birthday Book does a great job of that. There is also a "The Grandparent Book" that I found in BYU bookstore by the same author and publisher which has wonderful questions for grandparents to help get their history down for your children.
And now, in the spirit of traditions and history and Christmas - since it IS Christmas Eve after all - here are some of my favorite holiday traditions that may be on the unusual side:
- The yearly game of present roulette. There were five kids in my family and it seems like each of us always wanted to be the one who had the last present to open. This is not the same thing as having the most presents, it is just that there was something magic about the very last present. We were forever hiding our own presents behind chair legs or underneath discarded paper in the hopes of fooling each other. Paul has taken up this tradition and is amazingly good at the what-are-you-talking-about-all-my-presents-have-been-opened deception necessary to successfully pull off a win.