I don't know where or when I first heard of the idea, but I know I've seen it several times over the past several years.
The idea is to take a jar and fill it with slips of paper that family members write on throughout the year: things they want to remember, something good, a surprise, trips taken etc. At the end of the year you can read all about the good things that happened that year.
Last year I finally decided to give it a try. I put the mason jar, pre-filled with slips of paper and a pen, on the table so it would be in plain view and remind us to use it.
It did get used, but mostly by me. I was the one who wrote on about 95% of the slips of paper; or reminding the kids about something great that happened that day and "would you like to write that down in the memory jar?" Isn't that how it always goes ... the mom remembers everything?! :)
After the new year we sat around the kitchen table drinking hot chocolate and taking turns pulling a slip of paper from the jar and reading it aloud. The kids really seemed to enjoy it and the anticipation of what their slip of paper would say - then it would trigger memories about that time and lead to some more discussion.
It was fun to do and seeing how much they enjoyed reading the slips at the end of the year made it worthwhile, even if I was the one doing all (most) of the writing! I asked if they wanted to do it again this year and it was a resounding yes!
Over the Martin Luther King holiday we surprised the kids by picking them up early from school for a road trip to Florida. We didn't do any amusement parks on this trip, but we did go to the Orlando Science Center.
Three guesses as to who thought about writing about that trip on a slip of paper; and the first two guesses don't count.
So it's a work in progress; and I'm sure it's hard for kids to remember (or get in the habit of) remembering to write something down later because they live 'in the moment'. They just don't think, "Oh this would be something great to put on the slip of paper in the jar on the table!"
I think at the end of each week I will ask each of them to think back over the week and see if there is something that happened that they would like to write about for the jar. That might prompt some more contributions to the slips of paper this year!