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When you’re single, you really don’t think about them. When you’re married, you may consider them from time to time. But since kids rolled around, Pam and I have had deep discussions on what traditions we want to start as a family. Why is this all of the sudden the hot topic when kids are introduced? Because when they leave the nest, these traditions that we set now will give them comfort and fond memories for the rest of their lives… they will define our family.

Traditions are most evident during times of celebration… like Christmas. And the infinite amount of choices you have to make! To believe in Santa or not to believe in Santa? Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? What to cook? Real tree or fake tree? There’s certainly no right or wrong answer with a myriad of combinations to choose from.

I think we, the Snakeyes, are starting to settle into ours. Some we’re still working on, like what should the yearly meal be and when?

What we have come up with, so far, is this:

No Santa Claus. Sure, I remember fondly when I was a kid and how truly magical it was knowing there was a fat guy out there that can do the impossible (deliver a world’s worth of toys in one night, flying, and sliding down chimneys). It really was some of the fondest memories I had… I really did believe in the Big Guy. Of course, I knew the Mall Santas were all fake… but I really thought there was a dude in the North Pole that did everything the stories spoke of… then one day I found out it was all a tall tale. So if Santa was fake, what about the Easter Bunny? Made up. The tooth fairy? Made up. Everything I was told to believe in was quickly unraveling itself to realization and reason. Even to the point of God and Jesus… were they made up too? My faith in everything came crashing down at once. It took me decades to rebuild and figure out exactly what I do and do not believe in. I don’t want my kids to suffer the same blow to their faith. So… with no Santa, maybe some of the magic that I experienced will be gone for my kids, but I’m hoping they’ll transfer some of that magic from the Big Guy to the “thin guy” whose birthday we’re really celebrating anyway.

A real tree. Sure I’m killing a tree, but nothing beats the smell and feel of a cut-down Christmas Tree. You can’t truly replicate it with fake ones. And nowadays, there’s always something that dies no matter what you do: you’re probably contributing to world-wide toxin contamination by buying a fake one.

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A Christmas train. Yeah, I know trains don’t have a thing to do with Christmas really. But sometime in the late 1800’s people started putting them around Christmas trees. Today the allure doesn’t seem so strong, but a Christmas Lionel around the tree is something you always seem to overhear older men (over the age of 50) reminisce of. Well, I like trains. My kids like trains (ie, Thomas the Train). So I want to give them a train around the tree every year. I built the setup last year off a plan I found that mimics the Polar Express. Every Christmas we’ll add a car to the train. Just to get in the mood, we’ll throw in the movie “Polar Express” the night prior too.

A white Christmas. I wish. Again, not truly having anything to do with Christmas (I don’t think Bethlehem gets too much snow, but Baghdad sure did when I was there one winter!). So maybe not a tradition, but I’d love to live in a place where it does snow around Christmas time. There’s always been something magical about a white Christmas as well. For now, I guess we’ll have to settle for trips to the Austrian Alps the week before Christmas:

(video)

Oh yeah… and Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas 2011