Where it leads I know not for certain

The calendar has flipped to December and with it, the bustle of the holidays and approaching new year officially begins. There just doesn't seem to be enough time, does there? The to-do lists grow and you find yourself writing down "Start thinking about gift ideas" just so you have something to cross off. Over the years, I've begun to realize that what matters is not so much what we do during the holidays, it's that we choose what we do. There's nothing more miserable than rushing from party to party and store to store because that's what everyone else is doing. This season is a very personal one and too often, we allow the expectations of others to determine our choices.

One of my favorite things about starting a family was the chance to define our own traditions, to decide for ourselves what this season means. One year, we decided to start a book as a family on Thanksgiving Day and read it together each night, finishing on Christmas Eve. This meant that every night, no matter how many things there were left to do or how stressed we felt, we found 20 minutes to sit on the couch together. No television, phones, or laptops; just a book and a voice. We did it for many years and they are some of my favorite memories.

Prompted

Last week's dispatch asked, Which of your favorite things would few others understand?

Mona wrote:

One of my favorite things that few others understand would be my love of organizational tools. Currently that love is being directed towards Trello. I used Trello to organize my wedding this year and it was instrumental in keeping things simple and non-stressful. Now I'm using Trello for writing a story that I hope to film some day. Being able to upload photos, describe character traits and edit the story outline easily and share it with my writing partners has made me love this tool even more.

Grant wrote:

My socks with a green seam above the toes, a beautiful Wheaton College pen, my copy of Mavericks at Work, and graph paper with ideas written on it.

The first thing that came to mind when I read Lisa's question was an Arsenal pint glass that I received as a birthday present a few years ago. There's nothing particularly special about it, but I tend to use it on Friday nights, when the pressures of the week lift and there's a fun burst of music and laughing in the house. Since it's not dishwasher safe, I have to hand wash it each time and that little bit of extra attention and care makes me all the more protective of it.

Uncommon reads

Slow Tech Manifesto by Lisa Sanchez:

I will always attend to the living beings in my presence before I attend to my buzzing/blinking/vibrating technology.

News and such

We've started playing with some delightful designs for the future Uncommon site, starting with the page that will display our ten favorite things. As you might expect, each element of the page raises fresh questions. I'm eager to share more as things coalesce.

A small little surprise is already finding its way to the six countries where Uncommon founders reside. The original prints will be signed this weekend and the packages should start leaving Austin a few days later, hopefully to arrive before Christmas. There are just 16 spots left and we would love to have you. If you'd like to help start Uncommon and get a delightful package in the mail, too, join us (Update: Hooray! All 100 spots have been claimed.).

Finally, Radiohead's Thom Yorke has a new side project called Atoms for Peace. Thom announced the album release date today and I absolutely love what he said about the project: "Atoms is an ongoing and open ended project, where it leads I know not for certain .... which is what is nice about it."

Your turn

What is your favorite family tradition, holiday or otherwise?