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.
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→
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!
Hayley and I had our Festibond date planned for several weeks. She and I were going to make a gingerbread house together. She was very excited about it. We also planned on going to a movie afterward. The day before our date, we went shopping for candy. It was fun to plan our our house ahead of time, and then find the plethora of candy necessary to achieve our creation. We found a good gingerbread recipe and used stencils I’d printed out from a website.
We baked the gingerbread pieces the day before our date as well, because I learned that it would make the gingerbread more dried-out and sturdy. Skye kindly volunteered to take pictures, so most of the photos I give credit to her. Thank you, Skye!
It took Skye a while to decide what she wanted to do for our Festibond date together. Early last week she said, “Let’s get manicures.” I thought that was a great idea. I usually keep my fingernails really short because they annoy me when I’m typing. Fortunately I hadn’t gotten around to cutting them for a while, so they would look better with polish.
We started out our date last Friday the 27th driving to Portland with music blasting while we loudly and enthusiastically sang along. It’s a tradition of ours when we ride in the car together, and great fun. Our first stop was Miss Portland Diner for breakfast. We’ve been there several times, so we knew the food was pretty good. Skye had her usual eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast, as well as a hot chocolate. I ordered the Greek omelette, which was really good. Spinach, mushrooms, and feta cheese make almost anything better. It was really nice sitting with Skye and talking about various things going on in her life. Continue reading Festibond 2013: My Date with Skye→
Jenna loves the arts and especially enjoys attending the theater to watch plays. When I asked her if she’d like to see a play for our Festibond date together this year, she quickly said yes. I originally wanted to take her to see Annie playing at the Lyric Music Theater in South Portland. I’d met a couple of great people at TEDxDirigo last month who were both performing in it. Unfortunately by the time I tried to purchase tickets, it was sold out. I searched other theater, ballet, and music venues, and Jenna decided on The Snow Queen playing at Portland Stage. Continue reading Festibond 2013: My Date with Jenna→
On July 11, 2011, a holiday called ‘Siblings day’ was invented by Jenna, Hayley, and Skye Danler. Every year since, we celebrated our relationship by bonding more than usual. Sounds cheesy, but to us, Siblings day is a day to cherish.
This year, our big sister Skye created a very sweet slideshow! It included pictures of all three of us through the years. It also included my new favorite song, ‘My Sister’ by Reba McEntire. I was on the verge of tears. :)
I also got some card stock so that my sisters and I could try this fun activity that I thought up! We all made a board game from scratch. Both my sisters went above and beyond on them, being so creative. :)
My board game was called ‘Are you a Mainer?’. Hayley’s was ‘Adventure on a Board’ and Skye’s was ‘Truth or Dare’. It was super-duper fun to try them all out after lunch.
My sisters always cheer me up on down times. I know, sometimes they can be annoying :( but we always make up after a fight and laugh about it later like in the song ‘My Sister’. Skye was a big help in planning it! So kudos to her for being so helpful… :)
We also had a pillow fight. Hayley got hurt, so we moved on to a different game that I made up. We had to make each other laugh, and if we laughed, we loose. I lost so many times!
I always look forward to Festibond, and the preparations add to my excitement. My sisters and I baked goodies with mom, and we all spent time writing thoughtful letters to each other. I used the thesaurus a lot for my letters, not wanting to use many boring and overused words. I discovered some new words such as “hankering” and “gratify.” I enjoyed expanding my vocabulary while writing my letters.
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.