Another year over. Are you breathing a sigh of relief, or are you already filled with a warm glow of nostalgia when you look back on 2008? Whether you are thankful for a fresh start, or hoping to continue in the same beat in the new year, making a memory box is a fun and enlightening way to reflect on the year gone by and to focus your thoughts towards the one to come. The idea behind a memory box is simple - it is a place to store things that were important to you throughout the year. These items should be symbolic of something that had meaning in your life. You can include anything: ticket stubs from your favorite movie, a matchbook from where you had a special dinner, photographs of your family and friends, shells from your trip to the coast. There is no fixed rule over what should be included or not, as long as it was significant to your year. This means that along with the good you should include some of the bad: a bill for an unexpected expense, a service from a funeral, a newspaper clipping of an event that involved or upset you. To make sense of what you have included, it is a good idea to write a list of everything, with some notes explaining why it was significant, and put this list in the box too. Another vital addition to the box is a letter to yourself, to read at the end of 2009. This letter should summarise your year, talking about what affected you, and how it will make you change your life in the next year. Write down what you are proud of, and what you are not, which goals you met and which you are still working on. What hopes do you have for the coming months? Include advice to yourself a year from now, as well as some praise and words of inspiration - you never know what type of year 2009 will have been, and who better than to encourage yourself to keep moving forward than yourself? Think about what issues you might struggle with, and forgive yourself in advance for anything that you know you are overly self-critical about. By sifting through the events of the year, you should get a sense of accomplishment and pride to see everything that you have achieved. Reviewing past events and creating a specific place to put mementos can also be cathartic, helping you to let go of any negative feelings and find closure. You might find yourself prompted into action to rectify any situations that need your attention, whether they be trivial (finally replacing that burned out bulb on the porch) or important (getting in touch with a friend), as you ask yourself why you are carrying these burdens into a new year. A memory box doesn't even need to be a 'box'. A scrapbook, or a large envelope will work just as well. If you are the creative type you can decorate an old shoe box with magazine and newspaper cuttings from the year. Or invest in a wooden box that will last a lifetime and beyond. Not only can the memory boxes be valuable tool for you to change your life, but they are also a wonderful way to share your history with future generations.