The Joy of Lists

The other day my youngest wanted to see my Highland Dancing medals…

(probably something you didn’t know about me, I’m guessing? I did competitive Highland Dancing for several of my pre-teen and early teen years.)

…so I pulled down my scrapbooks. These are a series of like, 8 enormous, fat books that my mother lovingly curated, detailing my entire life. I cannot imagine the hours of work that went into these books, and I have to admit they make me rather ashamed of the fact that my kids’ report cards and awards and playbills all get thrown in a giant tupperware bin willy nilly. But we all do what we can, right?

Anyway, while flipping through these books, where all of my medals are properly mounted and preserved (thanks, Mom!), we found solid gold treasure in among the kindergarten art and the book from when we went to see Sha Na Na – my daily diary that I had to keep when I was in Grade 4.

The kids were super interested (and also impressed that I could write in cursive – oh, the sad lost days of proper education). So I read it out loud to them and it was HI-LAR-I-OUS.

First of all, at least 50% of all entries feature my best friend Barbie, and my kids could not get over her name, picturing her as an eight inch tall plastic girl with a fake tan and big boobs in every entry.

Like this series, randomly chosen from a 10 page span:

Friday, Feb 1, 1980 – Today Barbie and I were helping Mrs. Havey. They are having a test and we had to set up for it.

Friday, Feb 8, 1980 – Today Barbie is sick. She has been sick for two days now.

Monday, Feb 11, 1080 – Barbie has a rabbit fur coat. She got it from her Aunt Marg. (jealousy implied)

Tuesday, Mar 25, 1980 – Barbie is in Florida. I can’t wait until she gets back. She promised me that she’d bring me something.

…and sure enough…

Thursday, Mar 28, 1980 – Today Barbie got back from Florida. She brought me a purse. It’s from Nassau. I like it.

Good old Barbie. Although I will point out that a) Nassau is NOT in Florida, so that’s a little fishy, and b) a purse is no rabbit fur coat.

The receiving of gifts was a huge, huge deal in my Grade 4 life, apparently. Pretty much any entry that doesn’t deal with Barbie and her comings and goings concerns the listing of gifts I received.

For example:

Mon Nov 19, 1979 – Yesterday was my birthday. I got a Shanana record, purse, charm, earrings, two sets of books, a pack of cards, a radio, and fifteen dollars. On Saturday, I went to my church bazaar. I got two Christmas presents there. One is for [my older sister]. It’s a doll. The other one is for my mom. It’s a pincushion. [Once an early Christmas shopper, always an early Christmas shopper!]

Mon Jan 7, 1980 – For Christmas I got a book full of Life Savers [had to pause here to explain this concept to my children, DAYS GONE BY, am I right?], a camera bag, bubble bath, a weaving loom, Monopoly, a Loveable Snuggles, some clothes, shampoo, a thermos, stamps, candy, and Spirograph. I had fun. [well, I should hope so.]

Wed Mar 26, 1980 – My nana and papa [newly returned from a trip] brought me a shirt that says Puerto Rico, a ruler with all the best sights of Puerto Rico on it [I still have it!], a palm tree charm, a Puerto Rico tree frog called the Cuqui, and a big mexico hat. [My older sister] got the same.

I have now earned a reputation in my house as The Ultimate List Maker, well deserved of course. I mean, who doesn’t love a good list?

The diary also reveals me to be the worst brown noser ever, as entries reveal that I often brought in extra books, collections, flyers, and other info to supplement the learning we were doing in class, as well as performing a few Highland Dances for the class’ benefit. KEENER.

My teacher was a delight that year. She often comments in the margins, encouraging things like, “You’re a lucky girl!” and “You must have missed her” (regarding Barbie, of course). But this one is my favourite:

Mon Feb 4, 1980 – My aunt is in the hospital. I went to see her yesterday. She’s doing fine.

My teacher’s comment on this was, “You have a very busy and interesting life.” For some reason this still fills my heart with delight. Yes, I DID have a busy and interesting life! And I still do! You know what – how about we write about it in some sort of online forum where others can see my diary entries and comment on them and…oh.

And thus the girl becomes the woman.

I love these diaries so much – I’m so pleased my mom kept them. And of course, now I want to force my kids to do the same. Imagine having a year of your childhood captured in entries like this. To know what you were thinking about and what mattered to you and yes, what you got for Christmas that year. It’s delightful. The kids are getting notebooks and pens for Easter, I think!

5 thoughts on “The Joy of Lists

  1. Jacquelyn

    I also had a best friend Barbie; I guess its one of those names from the 60’s and 70’s that has been left behind. (And its a pretty long list of left behind names – Carol, Nancy, Sheila, Karen, Bev, Lisa, Cindy, Tracy…) Maybe our grandkids will be using those names again.

  2. Is there no end to your talents?? Highland dancing! With crossed swords, I think! I was SO jealous of the girls who could do this at my school.
    LOVE this post!

  3. Highland dancing! I had to look it up, never heard of it (sorry!). Now your name will be forever associated with highland dancing in my mind 😆

    It’s so cool you have these memories to share with your kids. There’s something unique to paper and print that digital doesn’t have.

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