Jay Shirley

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The Daily Practice

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Starting a new tradition.

Published: 25 Nov 2011

I am not a fan of holidays. I don’t really want to dislike them. I’m just not excited. I want my kids to grow up with fond memories of holidays and have an excitement even when they’re older. Leading up to this Christmas, I thought for a long time on how to do this.

But first, an introduction.

Growing up, to fund our Christmas and ski trips, we would make swags. They’re like wreaths, but no holes. We went up into the hills, cut off boughs from trees, loaded them up and spent the next several weeks making them. We got a portion of the sales, plus we also got to go to the ski hill. That is really my memory of Christmas. It wasn’t about Christmas at all.

I look back on that with fondness. It was great to do. We sold them at the bazaars and just around. I learned how to tie ribbons into nice bows, a skill I’ve completely let languish. I wouldn’t want to do it again, but I enjoy looking back on the memory.

Building memories is about repeating memories.

We did this for some unknown number of years. I could ask my mom, but why bother? Every year has blended into one continuous lump of what Christmas was to me growing up. I don’t mind.

The constant, repetitious nature that defined what Christmas was made it something special. I knew what to expect. For a kid, that’s important. It made me feel very secure.

In order to continue doing something every year, I think I need to enjoy it (or do it out of necessity). So I thought about what are the things I would like. Then it came to me.

Building an ever-growing Lego village.

I loved Legos as a child, and as a grown-up the memories have only increased in fondness. The kids also like them. Last Christmas, a neighbor had a train running around their Christmas tree.

This is all coming together.

This year, the day after Thanksgiving, we open up the Emerald Night. 1085 pieces of Lego glory. The first of many sets to come to build a winter village beneath our tree.

It was great to do this. The kids love it and drive it on a pathetically tiny track (I’ve ordered 2 more track sets). I think every year it will be more exciting, as they know there will be some new set they can add into the village.

Every year we will do this. Every year it will grow. Every year my kids will look at it as a Christmas tradition. I know that there will be a time when they’re older and don’t want to. They may even hate the idea of Legos. I hope not, but I can’t control how my kids will be in their teenage years.

I can only try to point them in the right direction. In any case, I’m thankful for my family. They’re awesome.