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Here's a fun tradition that my great grandmother turned me on to and that I've continued with my own family.  It helps you keep track of the years flowing by.

Get a funky ordinary Christmas tree ball, one that you won't mind losing down the road.  Now mark the current year on it in fat black magic marker, "2002," for example.

Take out a sheet of paper and write down  everything that happened to you, your spouse, your kids, your cat, dawgy, whoever is important to you.  This isn't a treatise, just a summary, but it's important that you be really thorough and methodical about it.  I flip back through my Palm pilot calendar day by day and extrapolate what happened.  Sometimes you have to infer, "oh yeah, there aren't any entries there because I was off at Mac Expo..."  Make sure that you get any traveling, significant new friends or lovers, job changes, financial wins or losses, graduations, abject failures too.  If you have a partner, get them to add their bits to it as well, but keep it all on a single piece of paper.  That's important for the next step.

Now take the "Year in Review," page and fold it up really small, so that it fits into the Christmas ball.  This is both harder and easier than it sounds.  Your first attempt will probably be a frustrating botch.  Don't give up!  Most Christmas balls are almost three inches in diameter, that means that if you cut off any excess border on your paper, then fold it in three, you'll end up with a long, skinny rectangle.  Fold this in half, lengthwise, then roll it up very tightly & slip the little scroll into the Christmas ball.

That's it for the first year.  Repeat the whole process for ten years. Then, on the tenth year, bring out the first ball, smash it open dramatically with a big hammer or something and have an amazingly satisfying read of your own personal time capsule before preparing the new list.  Okay, you can cheat a bit on the waiting, but five years minimum!

Kids absolutely adore this.  We've been doing it since the late 80's and it's a highlight of the holiday season every year. Once you are done reading the list, put it into a new ball and put that ball back in the rotation. After 20 years you get to smash two balls every year!

Peace be with you all!

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