Memories in a Pickle Jar

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First, I must explain that the pickle jar was random.  A quick glance at a New Year’s resolution idea which grabbed my attention during a mindless scroll of Facebook became a year-long (but easy) project and the pickle jar just happened to be close at hand.

I might have had a moment of contemplation about my love of Bubbie’s (pure kosher) dill pickles and my newly-found supply at a local market.  They taste just like the ones that I watched my grandmother meticulously prepare every fall.  I was always amazed that I could be eating those pickled cucumbers for an entire year! Perhaps there was a neurological connection about memories that would scan a year?

In the furiously-paced life of a school administrator the highs and lows, ups and downs, challenges and successes and compliments and not-so-complimentary moments of a year flow into a river that was originally comprised of 52 more distinctive streams. I thought: Well this looks like fun and maybe something I could actually achieve, unlike my token yearly calendar that never makes it past January. So Bubbie’s, here we come! I found some sticky-notes that had some Buddha images (always want to be “mindful”) and I started.

The goal:  every Sunday I would write the memory of the best or most memorable situation/conversation/activity of the week. Drop it in the jar.

I think my first amazement was how easy it was to have one thing stand out as memorable—week after week.  I was inclined to write the challenges because they were easier to retrieve, but keeping it positive became habitual. There were a couple of weeks where I had to look back over my calendar to remember what actually happened during the  week.  I had two or three weeks where travel or senior memory problems had me depriving my jar of input, but I quickly caught up. One week I couldn’t decide how to decide, and that week achieved two best memories.

I discovered that 52 sticky notes fit with precision in a Bubbie’s pickle jar. I realized that after about one month I couldn’t remember what the previous weeks memories were.  The simple act of writing them down offered me a positive outlook on the upcoming week.  I fully admit that at one point the phrase “Keep it Simple, Stupid” correctly described my appreciation for my Pickle Jar.

And the finale!  2020 arrived.  Last week I emptied the jar.  Oh, dear. Do I read them in order? Or randomly?  I lined them up by date and began to read. 52 weeks became one whole.  A year of meeting professional goals (finishing all of my keynote presentations for Prague). A chance meeting with an old friend who I never expected to reconnect with. My daughter’s wedding in a little village in Scotland, literally dancing the Scottish reel all night long. And in December a note from a parent thanking me (as my retirement approaches) for all the times she meant to thank me that touched me so deeply.

One small sticky note. Once per week. 52 weeks. Bubbie’s pickles not necessary. It reminded me of how fast the time passes and how important it is to reflect and acknowledge all of the wonderful things that can happen to us in a year. It is important to remember across time what went well for us.  What moved us. What motivated us. What changed us.  And this simple activity did it in a way that our busy lives allow.

Tonight my first 2020 message goes into my Bubbies jar.

Happy to share: making pecan pie with my grandchildren.

Happy New Year to all of you.

Sue Pritzker