Festibond this year was great, as usual. It’s sad to have Mom missing from the tradition, but we enjoyed each others company and the wonderful activities. We began the morning on Festibond with everyone pretty much getting up and begin to get ready for the day. There was also some working on the letters to each other. Once everyone was up and ready (in our matching clothes) we headed to Miss Portland Diner for breakfast. It was a short wait for a booth in the old part of it.
The food was good, and the discussions were great. It’s always very nice to spend time like this as a family. We next returned home, where, in a manner reflected across the last few Festibonds, we completed our letters. I was the last to finish mine, and as I so/after I completed them, we set up the snacks. The things to be done were mostly the assembly of the food and cutting up fruit and vegetables/quickly making the dips for both. The previous day had been when we did a lot of the preparing, such as shopping and baking. There was fudge (made by Skye), triple chocolate chip cookies (made by me), caramel popcorn (made by Jenna, fruit and a cream cheese fruit dip, veggies and a ranch dip, crackers, cheese, meat, chips and guacamole (made by Dad), and Martinelli’s.
Ten years ago Kirsten and I decided to stop celebrating Christmas with the girls. We didn’t like its symbolism, religious heritage, and most of the ways people celebrated. However, we did like the idea of spending time together with intentional focus on strengthening our relationships. We created our own traditions and called them, collectively, “Festibond.” Our Festibond celebration, in which we go on dates, write and read letters to each other, play games, put together puzzles, and eat way too many snacks, has always been my favorite day. Festibond 2016, our tenth, was Saturday. It was my favorite day of the whole year.
Kirsten died in May. Every day since has been, to some degree, more prosaic than if she were still here. I was concerned that Festibond this year would be somber instead of happy and joyful. Indeed, we missed her as we do always, but our celebration was wonderful, happy, heart-warming, and close, as I’d hoped. The girls have embraced the spirit of Festibond from its inception. Squabbles that would happen on other days don’t. Everybody pitches in to make it all happen. We smile, we laugh, there may be singing, and we give each other lots of hugs. It’s impossible to describe just how special and penetrating it is, but I am always moved and wish every day in our house could be more Festibond-like.
This year was our tenth Festibond. Although we lost Kirsten, we had a good holiday and our traditions remain unfaltering. In preparation, we went to Freeport to get matching clothes–something that Kirsten would have done when my sisters and I were a lot younger. Our holiday was on New Years’ Eve, so we attempted to stay up until midnight (we didn’t succeed).
In the morning, we drove to Portland for breakfast. Although it was a long drive for just a meal, the meal was plenty satisfactory. It was a good decision.
For nine years we lived in an apartment on the third story of a brick building in Maine. Before that we lived in a house in Kansas, but we moved shortly after I turned four, so I have no memories from it. This September we began to look for a new home. Our apartment was familiar to me after living there so long, but I was thrilled by the notion of moving, for not only a change, but because the apartment had many little cons. Things like doorknobs being loose and falling off, or doors not closing right.
Before this move I knew nothing about the process of moving, so was a bit disappointed that we wouldn’t be officially moving for at least over a month. There was also the problem of where the house would be. I defiantly wanted to stay in Saco, and I didn’t want to move too far away from The main area. There was also the problem of how many bedrooms it would have. At our apartment we each were able to have our own room, which was great, but it was unlikely we would find a good four-bedroom house that we liked at our price range. I agreed to share a room with my oldest sister, Skye, if needed, because I knew it would be worth it to be able to move to a nice place, and she would be leaving for college in about a year anyway. When it did come time to start viewing houses, though, I felt beyond excited and optimistic. The first house we viewed still had some furniture and everything in it, but as we walked through it, I gradually grew less and less excited. It seemed to be a bit of a fixer-upper and felt old. There was a huge garage (full of clutter) and a basement, but there were also windows on bedroom doors that had been painted over and many little things that would also need replacing. I didn’t like it, but I did do my best to stay positive. The next house we viewed was better, but it felt cramped in places and I did not like the kitchen at all. There had been a garage separate from the house, but the previous owner had connected them with a room. It also had a very large open basement. Both of the houses had been close to the high school and my best friends house, which I liked, but the houses were not as I had hoped. Again, I felt a bit discouraged.
My family had lived in the same apartment in Saco for nearly ten years. The proximity to Thornton Academy, downtown Saco, and Biddeford was ideal, but my dad had been talking about moving for years. This Autumn, we started looking at different houses with a realtor and it started to feel very real. The whole process was very exciting.
Now, we’ve lived in the Park street lofts for over a month and it’s just beginning to feel like home. My favorite things about it are all the big windows, the kitchen space and appliances, and the “openness”. Every morning, sunshine from the East streams into the dining room and makes everything warm and colorful. It’s quiet and peaceful. Whereas at our former apartment, the windows were closer to the ground and smaller, so the sunrise was not as great. I love that my sisters, dad, and I spend more time together because the loft is more open.
I’m glad that we were able to have Thanksgiving at our new loft. Our Aunt Christina, Brent’s sister, came over for Thanksgiving break. We had a traditional Thanksgiving meal on our new table. It felt homey. Our new kitchen is easy and comfortable to use, so we are cooking and having family meals more often.
On New Year’s Eve our family celebrated our eighth Festibond, an annual tradition we created and have absolutely loved every year. It has been altered and added to, but at the core of Festibond is strengthening our family bonds, individually and as a whole. This includes the writing of personal, heartfelt letters to each other in the weeks before and reading them to each other on the day of Festibond.
This past year has been especially challenging for all of us. I have spent 6 1/2 months of it away–In Alaska (with Kathy, Brent’s mom) and Illinois (with my parents). I realized I needed to be away to work through many issues and stressors with which I have been dealing, mostly resulting from my medical illnesses. I enjoy and treasure the time I have with my mom and dad, and with my sisters, Amy and Sara (and their families). And they have all been so good to me. But I have missed Brent and the girls tremendously, and it has been very difficult for me to be away from them for so much time. I keep in constant contact with each of them via text, phone, and FaceTime. I am very thankful for FaceTime and the opportunity to communicate with Brent, Skye, Jenna, and Hayley face-to-face. It’s wonderful to hear their voices, see their expressions and gestures with which I am so familiar. We sang, danced, played games, made silly faces, cooked together, and had our “family night”…all via FaceTime. :)
Once again, our annual family holiday tradition of Festibond was outstanding. This year we celebrated on December 27. For those who are unfamiliar with this tradition we started several years ago, its purpose is to create and strengthen our family bonds, both individually and as a unit. Festibond actually encompasses a month or so beforehand with our writing meaningful and thoughtful letters to each other. Then about a week prior to Festibond Brent and I separately taking each of the girls out on one-on-one dates, and the girls and I bake sweets. On the day of Festibond we go out to breakfast, come home and read our letters to each other, spend time together playing games and doing other activities, and snack throughout the day on a light buffet and baked goods the girls and I previously prepared. We’ve changed and added a few things over the years, but our dates and the letters to each other are the primary focus. Continue reading Festibond 2014: Kirsten→
Festibond 2013 was, as expected, wonderful. Our family tradition has evolved over the years. We always discuss what works and what doesn’t, and everybody has an opportunity to suggest improvements. The biggest difference this year from prior Festibond celebrations was the venue: we stayed at a hotel instead of being at home. Jenna wanted to go somewhere, probably warm and exotic, and I just wanted to get away from our cramped apartment. I suggested we get a nice hotel in the area where we could swim and relax and not worry about things. It was, I must say, a brilliant plan.
On Sunday the 29th of December our family celebrated our seventh Festibond. This is a tradition we started as a way to celebrate and strengthen our bonds with each other every year. We love this tradition, and I hope the girls continue it after they grow up and move away.
Within the week prior to Festibond, Brent and I each take each of the girls out individually for a date. The girls get to choose what they want to do. We still seem to come up with new ideas every year. We have each written a post on our blog about the dates. I love having that special one-on-one time with each of my wonderful daughters. They all change a little every year (obviously), each one unique in their own way. I thoroughly enjoyed every one of my dates!