For many of us, our idea of normal has changed drastically in the last 30 days (and continues to change daily!), and we’ve settled into new routines. We’re changing our habits: staying home, eating out less, cooking more, taking more walks, navigating schooling at home – the list goes on. Eventually, things may return to exactly the way they used to be, and we’ll switch up our routines once more. Many years down the road, people will ask us what it was like to live through the COVID-19 pandemic, just like we’ve asked our ancestors what it was like to live through the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919.
That said, now is the perfect time to consider preserving some of the memories we’ve made and new routines we’ve fallen into. It may not seem important now, but we are making history! Imagine if your grandparents or great-grandparents had kept a diary or scrapbook for the Spanish Influenza Pandemic and passed it down through the generations – you would have a firsthand account of someone who lived through a major historical event! That, my friends, is gold to historians.
There are so many ways to document your journey: a daily journal, a scrapbook of photos and clippings, or folding all of these items and more into a time capsule!
Journaling is a great way to keep track of little, day to day details, and big happenings alike, that you may not remember with clarity years down the road. Sometimes it’s the small details that make history so very interesting to go back and read into! A daily journal entry can be as long or short as you like it to be. Consider jottings down things such as:
- How are you and/or your children feeling?
- How are you connecting to friends and family?
- How are you celebrating birthdays/anniversaries/etc.?
- Are you working? How has going to work changed?
- What is being reported on the news?
- What is the price of gasoline?
- What is it like to go grocery shopping?
- How have your shopping habits changed in general?
- Are there any items that you’re struggling to obtain?
- Have you tried any new recipes? What were they? How did they turn out?
- How are you staying occupied after work and on the weekends? What activities do you like to do?
- What are you reading and/or watching?
- Tiger King on Netflix: thoughts?
- How has your daily wardrobe changed? Are you team pajamas all day, or getting dressed to maintain a sense of normalcy?
- How much longer before you cut and/or dye your own hair?
- If you like to draw, sketch or doodle, consider adding these to your journal!
- Don’t forget to be specific! Include details like full names, ages, where you work and/or went to school.
Similarly, scrapbooking allows you to capture snippets of daily life in an assortment of materials and is very informal. Consider keeping in your scrapbook:
- Receipts and photos from purchasing gasoline (to document the price).
- Newspaper clippings covering the current situation, both locally and abroad.
- Photos you’ve taken of your neighborhood, including:
- Initiatives or activities begun by your neighborhood, scavenger hunts, green lights, sidewalk chalk art, words of encouragement, signage in windows, etc.
- Signage in restaurant or retail windows.
- Signage at hospitals and doctors offices.
- Flyers you’ve received in the mail about COVID-19.
- Stimulus check stub.
- New recipes you’re made – be sure to include a photo of the finished product and what you thought of it!
- Don’t forget to print out your cell phone pictures!
- Take a family picture in your living room, or on the front porch.
- Take photos of how you’re passing the time.
- Include photographs of holiday gatherings, birthdays, or anniversaries, and a description of how you celebrated.
- Include a screenshot of a virtual meet up with friends and family.
- If you like to draw, sketch or doodle, consider adding these to your scrapbook!
- Label everything and be specific! Don’t forget to include names, ages, and places.
All of the ideas listed above can be preserved more casually in a time capsule. Grab a shoe box, plastic storage bin, or a photo box and make it your COVID-19 time capsule! Throw in items such as receipts, photographs, newspaper clippings, short journal entries or memories you’ve jotted down (especially if you’re not into keeping a daily journal), letters you’ve received from friends and family, etc. Don’t forget to label items with names, dates, and places!
When you’ve got everything you want into your time capsule, stash it in a place you won’t be tempted to look for a while: a corner of the attic or on a shelf in the basement (as long as it’s dry!), or tucked away in a closet. Be sure that wherever you choose to store your box is climate-controlled – you’ll want a dry spot away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures for best preservation of your items.
Lastly, decide how long you want to wait before opening it up. Once you’ve decided, set a reminder in a place that you’ll have access to in that amount of time – if you have a Google account, I recommend putting a reminder in your Google calendar!
Need a little inspiration?
Long Creations has created numerous, FREE, downloadable sheets to document the pandemic for children and adults alike. The kit for children encourages them to write how they’re feeling, draw a family photo, write “all about me”, compose a letter to themselves, document their community, and so much more.
There is even a kit for adults! Overall, it’s similar to the one for children with a few changes to document facts from the time (including the price of gasoline!), events missed, and things to remember. There are even pregnancy and birth-related sheets for soon-to-be and new parents. These handy worksheets could easily be tossed into your time capsule, or incorporated into your scrapbook!
We encourage you to keep track of your journey through this unprecedented time using whatever method works for you. Keep an open mind and document the small things and the big things alike – we are making history each and every day. Future generations may thank you for your account – after all, not every generation lives through a pandemic of this scale!
Written by Krysta Wilham, Local History & Genealogy Programmer, enthusiast of historic diseases, and now a journaler.