Memory Journal with Letters to Our Children

Memory Journal with Letters to Our Children: Timeless Meaningful Gift Idea

I have very few items from my childhood and have learned not to be too sentimental. The exceptions are family photos and random notes from my parents.

These notes weren’t for me per se. After my parents died, I found my dad’s 1-page inventory of the few things we owned when immigrating to the US.

From another notebook, I saw my mom comparing the costs of hotels for a vacation she never took.

Related: Learning How to Declutter After My Immigrant Mother’s Sudden Death

Each forgotten paper scrap gives me glimpses of my parents’ life, pieces of a conversation that I wish we could have today.

I wish I could ask about how they coped or struggled with parenting in a new country with no help.

Were they happy or sad?

Did they pray?

Who were their first friends?

What would they do differently in hindsight?

Memory journal with letters to children: free, meaningful holiday or birthday gift
Journal & rainbow scarf

Now my oldest child is 6, and she constantly requests stories from my childhood.

What were my parents like, the grandparents that she would never meet?

A journal of tangible memories

Knowing that inevitably all memories will become hazy, my husband and I started a journal of letters to our daughter.

We wanted to create something that she could have, hold, and remember when we are no longer here someday.

To tell her about things that made us laugh and cry, to tell her what we learned with her and little brother.

And to write it by hand, because there’s something comforting about seeing handwriting from someone you know.

Related: How A Dictation Journal Improves Speaking, Reading, and Writing (VIDEO)

Memory journal – it doesn’t have to be perfect

The original plan was to write a message in the journal every year on her birthday.

In reality, except for her 1st and 6th birthdays, we have not followed any schedule!

And we have yet to start a memory journal for our son…I know, sorry dear second child.

There’s still time as this is a gradual, long-term project.

Initially, we imagined sending our children off to college with their memory journals.

For our daughter’s 6th birthday, we changed our mind and gave it to her.

Maybe she’ll want to reply back in the memory journal, maybe not.

Memory Journal with Letters to Our Children: Timeless Meaningful Gift Idea

Most of our letters are in English because that’s our family language, the best way we can express ourselves.

However, I did write one entry in Chinese, which I hope our children will still be able to read decades down the road.

Writing in Chinese is also risky, because I am not fluent. I’m prone to grammatical errors and forgetting important strokes.

But I want my children to see and remember the humble mistakes.

I want them to know that we have learned hard things together and persevered with faith in our almighty God.

Do you keep a memory journal?

Do you save notes from your family and friends?

Is this a tradition that you would start with your children?

I’d love to hear your story. If you feel comfortable sharing, please leave a comment below!

More insights from our Family Language Journey

Other gift ideas for kids

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6 Comments

  1. This is neat. I actually gave my husband a journal on our wedding day that we write letters to each other in randomly. A fun day memory, or a love note, or just something funny that we said. And we pass it back and forth. I hadn’t thought about doing this with our kids. So special! Thanks for the idea!

    1. Hi Brittany! Thank you for reading and sharing your special journal idea with your husband! I’m so inspired that you have you have kept up with it. Appreciate your idea in return! 🙂

  2. Hi, I also journal all my kids funny sayings, big achievements, sad moments anything that I think of for that day. I highlight main things about my husband and me; where we are working, living, etc. Because, when you look back you forget all the funny things your kids say. I keep the journals for all the kids but in one journal, kind of like the the president does!
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  3. I keep a journal to record since my daughter was born.At first, it was my way to cope my anxiety as a first time mom. Later i thought it would nice to be a memory for my daughter’s childhood. As mandarin is my first language, I write mostly in mandarin hoping that one day she will keep learning Mandarin to know her childhood 🙂

  4. I have a similar journals that I have done since 1997 capturing all my kids funny savings and happenings. I write in it when I feel like it or when something occurs like; the prom, first date, first day of school, etc. My husbands sister recommended it for me when I had my middle child. Instead of journals per child, I keep one ongoing with all the kids making sure once a year I capture the major things for even my husband and me. I picture myself older when the kids have flown the coop, rereading all my writings. I also have prayer journals that I put a picture of my favorite person and recap why they are special and include scriptures. Down the road when I’ve passed on, my kids can read about their lives and mine. 🙂

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