Festibond is a celebration our family invented in 2007. It’s quite simple, and more wonderful than I can possibly express. Essentially, we write each other letters before the big day and assemble them into keepsake booklets. Then, on the day we celebrate Festibond, we go to breakfast as a family. After breakfast we read each other our letters, open a few gifts and give lots of hugs. After the letters are read we spend the rest of the day playing games, talking, watching movies, eating snacks and whatever else we enjoy doing together. We have never had Festibond on Christmas day, because on Christmas nothing is open and that would be inconvenient.
This year we did Festibond on December 27th. It was blizzard conditions outside, which I really liked. We ate our breakfast at the new Cracker Barrel in South Portland. The food was okay, and it was very nice to all be together.
After breakfast we went to L.L. Bean in Freeport for a bit of unrelated shopping (I was going snowboarding the following day and needed a warm base layer). Then we stopped by Staples to print the Festibond letters booklet covers and assemble the booklets.
When we got home we all assembled on my bed with letters and gifts. Hayley went first and read her letters and gave her gifts to each other member. After Hayley it was Jenna’s turn. This proceeded in age-order until Kirsten had read all her letters. The girls gave each other gifts and neither Kirsten nor myself either gave or received any, as per our request.
The letters this year, as in years past, were fantastic. The girls put much thought into each of them. Listening to the girls read to their sisters sentiments of love and affection was a very special time for me. It was also nice to hear them tell Kirsten how much she means to them.
From Skye to Hayley: Hayley, you debate really well. When you grow up, I can picture you becoming a lawyer. I think that you will have a strong, clear voice. You have a personality that demands attention. You’ll probably get your way most of the time.
From Jenna to Hayley: You’re a jewel, my dear, a treasure. I bet when you grow up, 500 men will propose. I love to see you smile, just as Dad does! Your eyelashes make your beautiful blue eyes stand out.
It was really fun to sleep overnight with you at the Boston Museum of Science with the girl scouts. I’m glad there was an empty spot next to you so that I could sleep by you. I’m also glad that you like girl scouts.
From Hayley to me: If you weren’t my dad, I probably not be as jolly and playful because then I wouldn’t have your genes, and other dads are boring, unlike you. I have friends whose dads just buy them a bunch of video games and don’t spend time with them. I really like your jokes. They’re very unusual. I think other dads would probably not make jokes. And if they were forced to, they would probably make crappy, old “knock-knock” jokes. Not the good ones you do.
We all decided that we will suspend the gift giving tradition for future Festibonds. Reading a heartfelt letter and giving hugs fills the room with a palpable feeling of love. Following that up by giving a gift sucks the good vibes from the room and puts the attention on a material thing of little importance and value. It cheapens the experience. Gift giving has been a part of Festibond since its inception in 2007, and it’s always been our least favorite tradition.
After the letters were read we spent the rest of the day snacking, playing Pit and UNO and having interesting conversations. It was, in a word, bliss. I am excited for the next Festibond!