For Christmas my oldest daughter bought me a new journal. She usually does.
Perhaps it is because she knows I need a place to record (in my own handwriting) what is going on inside me. Perhaps it is because she understands my need for the texture and the tangible quality of paper. Perhaps it is because she knows I like books and in giving me a journal she helps me to create one of my own.
I don’t have to tell her what kind. She knows. She has paid close attention through the years. Black, spiral- bound with college-ruled sheets.
Close to Christmas she called me from the bookstore and asked if I wanted a large or small journal this year. (I usually get a small one). We laughed and talked about Christmas not having any surprises—this would be the year of knowing what you were getting; the year of knowing what was going to be inside the box.
I knew I was getting a journal from her, so I didn’t purchase one. I waited. And sure enough on Christmas morning I opened her package and found my large, black, spiral-bound, college-ruled journal. I said thank you and then put it away until I would need it. (I had to finish the last few pages of the other one first).
My daughter said no surprises.
But she fooled me.
She didn’t tell me that there was something else.
Last week I was thinking about the new year that was before me. I don’t make resolutions anymore. I don’t make promises, but I do keep a journal. So, I went to get my new journal because I wanted to feel the weight, length, and width of its pages.
Then I found my surprise.
When I opened the cover the first page was not white, not blank, and not empty.
My daughter had written on the first page—in blue ink was a paragraph inscribed in her sweet, distinctive handwriting. I stood poised in front of the window for light, and I read her words.
Suddenly the Christmas that was to have no surprises had one of the greatest ones of all. Her note to me was one of the best gifts I have ever received.
I was alone, but (to no one’s surprise) I cried.
Her words set the tone for my new year.
Because of my daughter’s invocation and benediction this blank new year was now infused with hope.
She didn’t know this was what she was offering to me.
Or did she?(She is incredibly wise.)
In a few days I will start using this journal. I will fill it with words, illustrations, quotes, verses and whatever else moves my being. I don’t know how long it will last. Could be a month, could be six months; I don’t know. Never do.
But I do know that I will often return to her note for me. I will reread it and savor every word.
She said it was a Christmas with no surprises.
She was wrong.