My adorable son in the heat of my family’s most esteemed tradition: anticipation.

What If You Made Up Your Own Holiday Traditions?

I love the schnitzel out of the family I grew up with. They’re hilarious, loving and know how to have a good time.

There’s a few traditions we have — mom’s toffee, everyone together, subtle racism from uncles, Manheim Steamroller on repeat — and they’re good, but I think we mostly just survive the holidays.

So, a friend asked this a couple days ago: we don’t have any Christmas traditions and I want to make some up for my son and I. What do you guys do, what do you like about it, what do you wish you did?

I got really excited about it. I have a 6 year old son, a gorgeous and smart wife and we live pretty far from both our families. I would love for Aiden (my son) to have a sense of holiday tradition that feels like us — thoughtful, goofy, inclusive, inebriatory, lots of moments where I cry in parts of kids movies, etc.

So, here’s a few ideas I’ve come up with so far. This is just a brainstorm here. If you have things you do (and love) please share.


  • Charlie Brown Christmas the day after thanksgiving to start things off right.
  • Cutting down our own tree at one of the tree farms near Portland.
  • A signature hot cider drink for kids that adults add some funk to.
  • Rounding up our own island of misfit/forgotten toys, having a ceremony where we donate them to goodwill.
  • Could I read the Jesus birth story to Aiden? Maybe from The Message bible. See if there’s a version out there from someone like Nouwen, Brennan Manning, or anyone besides Max Lucado? I’m sure Lucado has one… maybe we could try it. I’ll probably cry.
  • I do not like the Elf on the Shelf. We did it a few years now. I like the magic in it, but theres something a little off in the spirit of it.
  • I think family Xmas sweaters would be great. Everyone has one. I’ve never had a cheesy xmas sweater. It just seems like a great costume for holiday stuff; you don’t have to think about what to wear.
  • A staged family picture every year. Aiden, Mellisa and I (and any additions to come) staging something. All of us in vintage aircraft pilot gear, all of us in black turtlenecks with cats, all of us as characters in one of Aiden’s favorite movies, all of us as characters from the stop-animation Rudolph… etc.
  • We need a better meat idea. Turkey is not our favorite thing. It’s fun to do it well (and we’ve got a good track record). Ham is a thing, right? Maybe that? Or smoking a brisket. Maybe smoking a turkey would be more fun. Criteria: I want to have an excuse to chill and drink and smoke a cigar; I don’t want to stress about some damn piece of meat that will always play second fiddle to literally any version of potatoes ah gratin.
  • Making gifts. We’ve got family, friends and close acquaintances. Identify the folks in each category, define a makable gift for each category, make some shit. Maybe work in the Advent Conspiracy somewhere.
  • Karaoke. should karaoke play a part?

Maybe a way to think about it is: what “values” do I want to wash over Aiden? Doesn’t have to be too on-the-nose, but just sort of some intentional stuff in the air.

Teaching/Mentoring — I love and want to support the people teaching and mentoring folks. New skills, deeper thoughts, more developed and thoughtful souls… these are the way we distance ourselves from the stone age. I would like to say thanks and support these people.

Examples of this would be: Aiden’s teacher, writers of movies we love, friends of mine who write and teach things they believe in (Don Miller, Josh Shipp, Jamie Tworkowski, Shawn Blanc, Willie Jackson…), big brother/sister organization mentors.

I don’t know, this one feels a little tough. But maybe we could make a thing to send to our friends and heroes that go out into the darkness and bring stuff back for us.

Warming the Cold — It gets real cold in Portland. From what I understand, people who want food and shelter can find it. Doing something for the folks who provide that shelter, the cooks, servers, admins, etc.

Dignified Work — Good work has a special power in our soul. I would like to say thanks to anyone helping others get into some dignified work. Not really sure who does this or how to find them. It’s very similar to the teacher/mentor one above.

Making Stuff — I would love for Aiden to be, when he’s 25, very comfortable making his own cards, gifts and things. This is a perfect time of year to make some shit. Come up with a plan to make some stuff for people.


Ok, that’s what I got right now. Hopefully I’ll make some decisions and try a couple of these out this year.

Any traditions you do and love? Any you want to get started? Comment and stuff!

Happy holidays you guys.

Get a short and sweet email from me with quotes and stuff. Never spam, duh.