A Holiday Gift Guide for Budding, Expert or Want-To-Be Memoirists

As the holiday festivities continue, I hope you are enjoying plenty of homemade cookies, favorite carols and bright lights. We finally had a chance to decorate our tree last night. I was a little disappointed Xavier had no interest in this new activity as every waking moment he is obsessed with his trains. Regardless, I delight in finding just the right place for each ornament while I say to Christian, "Remember when we found this one on our trip to...." or "Remember so-and-so gave us this one?" I have a few strong opinions about Christmas decorating:  (1) I only like white lights on our tree and on our house, (2) I don't want too many ornaments on the tree so each year many decorations don't make the cut and (3) I consider holiday books to be decorations to be placed around and under the tree to show off their covers (friends tease that I like to "play bookstore"). While wrapping gifts, I was thinking about ways to remember Christmas Past, enjoy Christmas Present and continue traditions for Christmas Yet To Come and I thought perhaps I need a new special Christmas journal, which brings me to my holiday gift list...

To help you check off presents for your favorite people, here are a few suggestions for books to collect stories and memories. With regular use, these are gifts that will become invaluable over time. Don't forget to give yourself one or two!

1. Every Day:  A Five Year Memoir by Mr. Boddington's Studio. This little book will be stuffed into my own stocking this year. I love the idea of one-line-a-day journals and I plan to keep this by my bedside to end each day with a quick entry. A perfect way to distill a day into memory. I know busy friends who aren't big journalers have found them an easy way to document their lives. And the best part is, it isn't overwhelming to keep up.

2. 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers' Grotto with an introduction by Po Bronson. A cheap and fun mini-writing workshop to get to know yourself better. Including prompts such as "How do you feel about love these days" and "Name the trees that stood in the neighborhood where you grew up."

3. Listography by Lisa Nola. This is a fun and whimsical series for the list-junkies on your list. Yes, you should get one for yourself too. Choose from such editions as Film, Travel, Parenthood, Friends, Love, Music or the Original.

4. My Prudent Advice: Lessons for My Daughter by Jaime Morrison Curtis.  I gave this book to my sister to write about herself in a way that will be a keepsake for her daughter Mabel. A slim and attractive option, with topics such as "On Your Beginnings," "On Politics, "On Pain" and my favorite "On Seeing Beauty Everywhere." 

5. Just Between Us: A No-Stress, No-Rules Journal For Girls And Their Moms by Meredith and Sophie Jacobs. Written by a mother-daughter duo who have keeping a journal together for years, this book has some fun and meaningful conversation-starters for an ongoing heart-to-heart. It includes a page for each to write their thoughts on the same topics to laugh, grow closer and understand each other better. Recommended for middle school or high school age daughters especially.

6. Memories For My Grandchild: A Grandmother's Keepsake Journal by Lena Tabori. This is the book I've given to all three of Xavier's Grandmothers:  his MorMor, his Grandmar and his Abu respectively. It is a beautiful book covering the major milestones in life, as well as space to paste photographs. It may be overwhelming for some people, so be sure to suggest grandmothers take their time and enjoy it in little chunks. I can't wait to visit these books in the years to come as each woman fills them up with her personality and life stories. (Note: there are books on the market for Grandfather's but I haven't found one I really love yet.)

7. My Quotable Kid:  A Parents' Journal of Unforgettable Quotes from Chronicle Books. A great gift for new parents or parents of young children. Kids say the cutest things and when reading back over all the silly-sweet phrases you were sure you would never forget, you will be happy you wrote them down. Trust me.

8. Blank Journals. Quite possibly the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Here in Seattle, Elliott Bay Book Company is my go-to for beautiful journals like this one hand bound by Watermark Bindery. Go to your favorite local bookstore and peruse the options of blank notebooks, leather-bound volumes and handmade journals to fit the personality of the giftee. A blank journal is a delicious thing to hold in your hands and offers vital space to create, remember, rage, list, dream and play. You should probably have a new one for yourself for the New Year too. Go on, you've been good this year, haven't you?

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