My youngest two kids and I are reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Our reading today was from whiny Eustace’s diary. My 10-year-old son raised his eyebrows and snickered at the notion of a boy keeping a diary, and I suddenly felt very guilty for failing to introduce him to one of his big brothers’ favorites, the very masculine Diary of an Early American Boy. As it is, his primary diary experiences involve avoiding seeing the movie The Princess Diaries, and threats from his three sisters to stay away from their diaries. He perked up a little when I suggested he think of a diary as a journal.
Personally, I don’t know many men these days who keep either journals or diaries. I think this is a regretable legacy for young men like my son. My brothers are both good writers. When the older one had a “benchmark” birthday I gave him a journal and encouraged him to record his profound thoughts for posterity. I hope he’s acted on my suggestion.
It seems that women are better at this sort of thing – or at least they used to be. Both of my grandmothers recorded parts of their lives on paper. After my paternal grandmother died my mom sent me copies of some of the pages from one of my grandmother’s diaries. It was touching to read her tender thoughts about my little brother and me during the days she babysat us immediately following the death of our father (her son). I gained an even greater insight into this dear woman and the depths of her love for her family.
More recently Mom sent me some of her mother’s writings. My maternal grandmother died in 2002 at the age of 94. A woman whose talents ranged from running her own doll hospital to feeding wheat harvest crews, she wrote poems, stories and remembrances. In what she titled, “Just Remembering!” she describes her love for the house she and my grandfather built on their farm in 1952. She wrote about how “the gold of the autumn leaves matches the luster in the knotty pine walls,” and about their “picture windows…the one on the north frames the back yard with my flowers, and the front one our lovely old native elms, the lawn and the far distant, ever-changing scene.” Reading her thoughts makes memories from my childhood dance before my eyes, the sights I recall seeing through those very same windows.
I suspect Grandma might even have been a blogger if she’d had the opportunity. After all, blogging does seem to be the new journaling – for both men and women. I know I’m certainly more faithful about blogging than I am about journaling. But please, someone send me a big, fat nasty comment if I ever start whining like Eustace!