Festibond 2011, Our Fifth Year!

It’s been five years since we stopped celebrating Christmas and made up our own tradition: Festibond. While our Festibond activies have evolved over the years–we didn’t give each other gifts this year–we have kept true to the intent: maximize family bonds through quality time, letters of affection and lots of hugs. Festibond 2011 has been all that and more.

Yesterday morning we started Festibond at Cracker Barrel in South Portland. It was less than awesome, but we enjoyed being together. After breakfast I finished writing my letter to Kirsten while she and the girls made final preparations of the bounty of tasty snacks.

Skye and Kirsten share a hug

Skye and I share a hug


Reading letters to each other is my favorite part of Festibond. We had each been working on the letters for several days, and were excited to read them. We take turns reading the letters we’d written to each other. After each letter is read by the author, they and the person to whom the letter is written embrace in an enthusiastic hug. It is funny, sweet, geniune, positive and full of love. It is one of my favorite hours all year. Here are a few excerpts from the letters written to me:


Your snowboarding, flying, going to watch the space shuttle launch at the NASA Tweetup, and volunteering for PopTech, TEDxDirigo, and the Great State of Maine Airshow this past year all demonstrate your desire to live life to the fullest.

Skye (12):

I know that I may not always take your teasing well, but I would miss it if you stopped. You’re good at cheering me up and helping me to put things in perspective. I appreciate that you push and challenge me, because it helps me to be a better person.

Jenna (10):

I love to listen to your discussions. You have a lot to say. I admire how intelligent you are. You know lots of amazing things because you are curious and read a lot. I hope I can be like you someday.

Hayley (8):

I’m glad you work so hard as a parent to make us girls better people; like in homeschooling you push us so hard to get us to learn to love to learn and to become smarter people.

Reading the letters to the other members of the family is very satisfying. It’s nice to look up while reading and see the object of the letter smiling or laughing. A great deal of thought is put into each letter, and they are all very well done.

Skye reads a Festibond letter
Sisterly love, expressed
Writing and reading Festibond letters is so rewarding
Reading and listening
Kirsten and I love our Festibond traditions
Jenna's claws

I don’t know why Jenna likes to punch me so much, but she does.

Jenna loves to punch me
Enthusiastic affection
Jenna and Kirsten
I love Festibond hugs!
Hugs are an integral part of Festibond

After we had read all of the letters and given each other hugs (twenty in all), it was time for games, treats and discussions. We sat around the kitchen table, which had on it myriad delicious goodies. We played several games and engaged in a lively discussion. It was wonderful.

Kirsten and the girls baked lots of treats
Festibond snacks are wicked delish!

When we tired of games and snacks we piled back in the girls’ bedroom to watch “Smurfs.” The girls assured me that I would enjoy it. They were wrong. However, it was fun to watch Hayley laugh hysterically throughout the movie.

For dinner we made French bread pizzas, which was a lot of fun. After dinner the girls put on an impromptu private concert, which was very nice. That was followed by more games and another movie.

A private concert

We always love each other, but on Festibond that love is more palpable, and completely devoid of any contention, conflict or negativity.

Festibond is not over; I get to take each of the girls on a date as part of the celebration.

The Danlers

8 thoughts on “Festibond 2011, Our Fifth Year!”

  1. You guys are a model of love, affection, happiness and eyes-wide-open approach to life. Beautiful!!

  2. It’s so cool that you have a non-commercial holiday tradition. You’re giving gifts to each other of each other. Wow! We can all learn something from that. Thanks for sharing your family’s holiday tradition! :)

  3. I’m so proud of you all. Love your tradition. Miss you. Hugs to all, really big, Feastibond hugs. Love, Mom

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