My favorite Christmas tradition lasts the entire year.

My family has a sleigh full of Christmas traditions. Some are Christian traditions, like going to a candlelight Christmas Eve church service. Some are food related, like enjoying oyster stew, Honeybaked ham, pickled herring, Dawn-made biscotti, Egg Nog, and Glog. Apparently I’ll drink anything that ends with og.

We have Christmas movie and Christmas music traditions. We always have advent calendars. We send Christmas cards. And we have an Elf On The Shelf named Jingle Polar, who I will be happy not to see again for another 11 months. #LeastFavoriteTradition

The Best Tradition

My favorite Christmas tradition, besides going to the candlelight church service, is our ornament tradition. When my family travels, we look for Christmas ornaments from the places we visit. It makes for fun and focused souvenir shopping while we travel. And it makes gift shop owners happy. But that’s not the best part.

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The Best Part

The best part is when we put up our Christmas tree. Because when we decorate our tree we pull out all of the ornaments from all of the places we have traveled over the years. So tree trimming becomes a look back at all the fun we have had. Like Clark Griswold watching his old home movies in the attic.

As we unpack each ornament we reminisce about our adventures together as a family. We talk about the cities, states, parks, museums, friends and family we want to see again. We talk about the sink that fell from the counter in the hotel room (Hilton, New York). And the time we got pulled over by the cops for speeding, but the cop really liked Dad’s funny t-shirt and let us go without a ticket (Forks, Washington).

A Few Examples

The first time we visited New Orleans as a family.
I know this was from a trip to Disney World. I don’t remember exactly which year it was.
From Philadelphia. Does anyone else see an ass crack here?
From Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The sister city to Victor, British Columbia, Canada.
From our first trip to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. It inspired me to want to build an aquarium in my shed.
From The Getty Center art museum in Los Angeles. Where we also found the book, ‘Why is art full of naked people?’
The main thing in Maine is lobster.
From the Daniel’s Summit Lodge in Utah, where I used to spend 2 to 3 weeks each year shooting snowmobiles with my friends at Ski-Doo. And drinking beverages from a mug bigger than my leg.
From the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. But you probably didn’t need me to tell you that.
From our first family trip to St. Louis. Fun fact: I proposed to Dawn under the Arch, right on the word ‘TO’.
From the trip Dawn and I took to London for her 40th birthday. Although, since we saw London and we saw France, I thought we could have just hung up a pair of underpants.
From our last trip to New York City, when our friend Audrey Lowder took us all to the top of the Empire State Building. We also bought her an ornament that day to thank her, and serve as a reminder of our day together.
From our trip this spring to Austin, where we got to spend time with our next door neighbors from Dublin, Ohio, Phil, Christy and Regan Turner, and a zillion bats.

Key Takeaway

When fully decorated, our tree tells the stories of our travels, our time together and the high points of each year. It is like a pine-scented memory lane, lit up and displayed in our home for a month. It is a wonderful reminder of how lucky we are, how blessed we have been, and how much adventure has filled our lives. It makes it easy for us to tie the great things in our life to our religious beliefs and the tenants of Christianity. It makes me feel like I am wining at life. And I can’t wait to see what new ornaments we hang next year.

Merry Christmas

A follow up on my Christmas Card post.

Last week I wrote about how Social Media is Killing The Christmas Card. But the Christmas card and its non-religious cousin, the holiday card, are not dead quite yet. I know this because yesterday my wife Dawn and I finished creating our Christmas cards.

Dawn had the Christmas message on the front of the card covered, but she asked me to add a Happy New Year message to the back. I wrote a bunch of options, but we could only use one. So…

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We had a little trouble taking our Christmas card picture this year becuase the old Hilton Head Hairdryer was blowing on high.

Here are the 6 rejected messages:

1. Happy New Year! This card is proof that you and the Albrechts are friends, family or both. Carry this card with you to gain access to exclusive establishments, including grocery stores, shopping malls and public libraries.

2. Happy New Year! Now that you’ve opened the envelope and read both sides of the Christmas card, it is ok to pitch it in the garbage. We understand. That’s what we are doing with yours.

3. Happy New Year! May we all rejoice in knowing that the US Postal Service has survived another year.

4. Happy New Year! Yes, we know where you live. And it would be helpful if you kept your curtains open a little wider so we can see what you are doing in there.

5. Happy New Year! We all survived another trip around the sun. We hope you don’t fall off the ride next year.

6. Happy New Year! May it be better than the depressing collection of days you muddled through this year.

Key Takeaway

Everyone should have a blog. Because it gives you a place to share the messages and pictures that you couldn’t put on your real Christmas card.