Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Make-Ahead Mother's Day Gift

You might think it too early to start putting together a gift for Mother's Day in January, but what better to do (well, okay besides de-clutter your house!) during the remaining cold winter months than put together a gift that will help you know Mom better? Not only that, but this week there are fourteen weeks before Mother's Day. With this project, you need to come up with, and write out, 52 questions for Mom. If you start this week, that comes out to about two or three questions a week, and still give you time to get to the post office to mail it out. Work a little faster to make a second jar for your sweetheart!

The more time you work on this, the easier it is and the nicer it will be!

A Mother's Story

How well do you really know your mom? Probably not as well as you would think! This is a project that
  • is super-easy to do,
  • can be done over time in just two or three minutes a day, and
  • will draw your mother's life story out in a way that will open new doors of communication for you both!
So What is it already?!

Here's what you'll need:
  • Medium-sized Mason jar or pretty tin
  • strips of paper
  • ribbons/bows/fabric to decorate the jar with
Here is what you'll need to do:

  1. Over the course of the next few weeks, take one strip of paper and write down a question you'd like your mother to answer. Do this for two or three strips a day. The questions you ask will vary based on what you already know about Mom and what you want to know. I'll include a list of starter questions below. The aim is to have at least 52 questions - one per week for a year.
  2. Fold the strip up and place it in the jar.
  3. As you get closer to Mother's Day, decorate your jar with ribbon, fabric, paint-pens, etc.
  4. As a final touch add a small notebook to the top of the jar (attached by a ribbon or piece of velcro) along with a pen. On nice paper, include instructions that say something like:

  • Life's Little Secrets
  • My Life in a Little Book
  • Mom as You Never Knew Her
  • Mom's Little Secrets... etc.
Preserve your memories,
Seal them up well.
What you forget,
You can never retell.
But a journal that's kept
fresh on the shelf,
Will help someone through rough times,
Maybe even yourself.

(** Full disclosure, I got the above-poem from this website. I am not altogether very clever when it comes to these things and so I am happy to share someone else's ideas and web address for you to peruse!**)

Ideally, you'll further encourage use of the journal by setting a time and day to call Mom each week and talk to her about which question she picked, what she remembers about that event, and talk about all the little things that come with having written out an answer. You will learn more about her, perhaps she will learn a bit more about you and you'll be talking more often than you were before so new memories are being made at the same time. If you can record the conversation, all the better - then you'll have her voice to listen to down the line as well.

Places like Radio Shack sell a cassette recorder that you can use with a corded phone to record conversations such as these - (just make sure you let her KNOW that you're taping it ahead of time - that's a legal thing!) Once you're done, either archive the recordings or type them out (or hire someone to do it for you) so you have the means to go back to those conversations and relive them or to print them, bind them and give them to the grandkids when they leave home as adults. There are so many good options here!

In making up your questions, think of the "5 Ws": Who, What, Why, When, Where (and one "H") and How. Finally here are a few starter questions, as promised:

  1. What was your hometown like as a girl?
  2. What is one of your most cherished memory from when you were younger?
  3. When and Where did you meet my father?
  4. What kind of parents were your mother and father?
  5. What is your favorite school memory?
  6. What was your school like as a child?
  7. What was home life like?
  8. What is a cherished memory from your college-aged years (early 20s)?
  9. Who is one person that has most influenced you in life? Why?
  10. Where do you go for excitement/comfort/solace?
There are ten questions to get you started :) Over the course of the next few weeks coming up with more should be a piece of cake!

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