Norm and I have been unpacking boxes, hanging pictures, arranging furniture – all that fun moving stuff – for a few weeks now. Things are winding to a close, with only a few odds and ends still needing a permanent place in our home. Because I have a bit more free time, I poked around coffers that have been hidden away in storage for years.
I came across this gem – the diary I kept the year I was ten years old. I have very few mementos of my childhood due to Katrina, so I treasure this.
Mama gave it to me for Christmas, and I diligently began writing in it on January 1:
We went to Maw-Maw’s house. We shot fire-crackers to bring in the new year. After Jim left we got on our pajamas and watched t.v. The next morning we had cabbage, black eyed peas, rice. My Maw-Maw stuck a dime in the cabbage and I got it.
Those New Year’s traditions are still dear to me, and I still serve the same fare to my family every January 1. The dime in cabbage – does anyone else do this? The one who is served the dime will have money in the coming year. I”m certain that MawMaw purposely gave me the dime that year because I was the only one who would eat the cabbage.
My grown-up self remembers a girl who loved school, always had her nose buried in a book, and wanted to be a writer.
Apparently, this is not exactly the case. November 26: Yuck school.
The drive to write had not yet manifested itself either. There are many blank pages in the diary, for which I apologized on December 1: Sorry Diary that I forgot to write in you some days.
But some memories of mine were precisely as I remembered them, such as the day it snowed in New Orleans. Though I could never forget such a momentous occasion, I had forgotten the week of snow forecasts that had all of us children crossing our fingers. It finally happened on January 11:
Today was a very nice day. It was very, very COLD. Paige got a whole cup full of ice. Today I did my book report and colored my picture of something about Pearl’s Fosters. [I think I meant Pearl Harbor!] That night it started to snow. Everyone was so happy!
January 12: Today we were going to go to Vanessa’s house, but it snowed a little bit today. Paige and I went out and got 2 cups of ice and a whole cup of snow. We are going to build a small snowman with the ice and snow we found.
Let me tell you that my sister and I did, indeed, build a snowman from those two cups of ice and snow. It was about six inches high and probably more dirt than snow, but it was a dream come true. I had never before seen real snow.
While reading I discovered that it snowed again a month later, on February 10. How could I have forgotten that? I distinctly remember that nasty little snowman, but I had completely forgotten the second snowfall where a newspaperman came to our school and photographed me and a friend for an article. I even wrote that it was almost a blizzard! (Well, I used that term loosely, but to a Louisiana girl, snow that sticks is, indeed, a blizzard.)
Isn’t it strange how some memories are etched in our minds forever, clearly, as though they occurred yesterday; while others fade and yellow and eventually are lost to time.
What is is that relegates some happenings to history and others to oblivion?
When I came to the last page of the diary, called “Memoranda,” once again, I was reminded how fleeting some memories are.
I wrote this sentence:
I will remember this year
Ten-year old Stacy was partially right – I remember so much of that wondrous year, but no, I don’t remember Mister Clown! I remember fondly the snow, and MawMaw, and the people I mentioned in my childhood diary. I suppose that is what is most important in life – the people who make our lives whole.
Vanessa Conner said:
I love this post and remember when it snowed that year. I cannot remember what we did at my house, but I am sure it was something wonderful, because all of my childhood memories of you are just that: Wonderful. I, too, have my childhood diary, and it is full of similar things, many of which start with, “Me, Paige, and Stacy…” I love you so much!
We had such good times together!
Love this post, Stacy. It brought back so many memories of writing in a diary that looked something like yours (except it was pink and white, but it clasped in the same way.) You were more diligent than I. Mine was a five year diary and there are very few entries. Never heard of the dime in cabbage or Mr. Clown either. Very sweet memories.
Brings me back to a simpler time – though I probably thought life was complicated! ❤
What a great post! I’ve always been fascinated by the disjunction between my memories and things I wrote (diaries, letters) at the time. The dime in the cabbage sounds a little bit like the French tradition of the santon on Epiphany, or the English tradition of the sixpence in the Christmas pudding – my husband remembers that.
Oh, wow! We also do the santon on Ephipany, but it’s always a Baby Jesus and it’s found in what we call here a King Cake (galette des rois). I love traditions, and even that sometimes we don’t know why we do them! ❤
🙂 Diaries are the best kind of friend. Thanks for sharing. You’ve prompted me to look through some of my early words.
Isn’t it funny how many little girls keep diaries? I have to thank my mom for prompting me to journal my thoughts. I’ve kept a diary ever since. ❤
Sibella at bakingwithsibella.com said:
What a nice childhood treasure to have and hold on too! 🙂
Yes, that little girl made me smile. ❤
El Guapo said:
I occasionally look over stuff I wrote as a child with nothing but confusion and beffudlement.
And smiles, too! ❤
What a beautiful story you have shared here today Stacy. I didn’t want it to end, I wanted to hear more about ten year old Stacy, and Maw Maw and her coin in the cabbage and seeing snow for the first time ever! And here you are today, back where all of those magical memories began. You truly have returned home. ❤
That’s so sweet of you to say, Joanne. Yes, I am home where those memories began, and I can’t say that I have any complaints. It’s time to make new memories. ❤
What a nice thing to find! It is amazing what we remember and what we don’t. Some things stay with us because of the emotions attached. I love how excited you were about snow! I grew up in New England where the snow sometimes was so deep we couldn’t get out the door and my Dad had to climb out a window to shovel it free. We dreamed of tropical climes! I do agree with your final assessment, it is the people in our lives that make our lives whole.
Oh, and I have never heard of the dime in the cabbage tradition! But it sounds like a good one! (I love cabbage, too) xx
That first snow was quite an experience. I have a good friend whose father also had to shovel their way out of the house. Though it may not have seemed like fun to the dads at the time, it made wonderful memories for their children! ❤
That is funny, I do have a poetry album from that age and a diary from some years later… On rainy days it is great to visit with yourself and drift back to that time. Your handwriting was beautiful.
Hugs to you,
Thank you, Mariette – I like the way you said that “to visit with yourself and drift back to that time.” I will have to remember that next time it rains. ❤