During this holiday season, with lots of Offbeat Homies out there getting ready for the winter, I was struck by the thought that many of you are probably getting ready to travel or spend the holidays someplace different than normal. And I thought of one of my family’s traditions that anyone can start, so I wanted to share it with you!
Every year around the end of November, my family starts decorating for Christmas. There are trees (yes treeS) and lights, ornaments and Santa figurines, but my favorite thing is a little orange spiral notebook. Let me explain…
When my parents were married, almost 36 years ago, my Dad had just enlisted in the Navy. As luck would have it, he got his first set of orders right at Christmas time. Unfortunately, this meant that every few years my family had to pick up and move across the country right at the height of the holiday season. Well, this did not sit well with my mother who worried about never being able to recall which location we were in each year, and thus the Christmas notebook was born!
My dad started to write down the date, location, and a few details about where and what we were doing each Christmas, and who we spent the holiday with. My mom took it even one step further. For every year in the notebook, we have a Christmas ornament with that year’s date on it (some came that way, some are hand written).
The result is that each year we all gather around an empty tree with cups of tea or hot chocolate and we go through, page by page, our family story. And the most wonderful thing is that we have all of our best and worst Christmas memories to share each year. From when my dad had to work, and he spent the night on the flight line singing Silent Night to his squadron mates over the walkie-talkies, to the year we all came down with food poisoning during a cross-country trip to my grandmothers.
Every year, every memory is read aloud and we laugh about the good and the bad and race to see who can find that year’s ornament in the many many boxes and hang it on the tree.
At the end of the night when we are finally done, our tree is decorated, not just with pretty bobbles, but with laughter and joy and the memories of all our different Christmases that we have spent in so many places and with so many friends both near and far.
It may have started as a way to keep track of our semi-nomadic life, but that little orange notebook has become one of the greatest parts of the holiday season for me.
What holiday traditions have YOU invented?