Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia
December 27, 2015

My Strange Holiday Tradition

Every year, on one of the last days of the year, I get up, make coffee, and then turn off the power to my house.

I told you it was strange.

In the morning, I mentally walk through each month of the past year, willfully reconstructing what happened. Where did I live in April? Who did I know? What did I do?

I play back, with as much detail as my memory can manage, the movie of how I've spent the last year of my life.

Memory is funny and fickle, and blank spots often appear - usually in the times where things were pretty much the same. But there are the landmarks, moments impossible to forget, and with nothing else to do and no possible distractions, a surprising amount of detail can emerge.

Once I've made it through the year, it's time to go for a walk, or cook a really good meal. To simply be, by myself, with no internet or cell phone or facebook, with a full day to spend.

Then, that evening, when the time is right, the list making begins.

I've made a list for the year for the last 15 years. For the last 10 or so, the formula has been consistent.

  1. Get a single piece of blank, unruled paper.
  2. Get a pen.
  3. Get a ridiculous quantity of alcohol.
  4. Give the list a ridiculous title.
  5. Start writing.
  6. Start drinking.

The first half of the list is written while sober. The second half is written while increasingly, ridiculously, drunk.

The next morning, I wake up, take a half-bottle of ibuprofen, stagger out to the living room, and see what exactly I've agreed to do for the next year.

The lists contain both the practical and ridiculous. This year's included both "learn to cook three new dishes" and "kiss someone in Iceland."

Regardless of what it says, it's my goal to do every single thing on that list, no matter how crazy or out of the way they seem.

Every year, the list pushes me to grow, to expand and try new things, and to become someone that I'd never thought to try being on my own.

I love it.

This week, I'll sit down with a bottle of Colombian Aguardiente, and do it again. I can't wait to wake up and see what next year will hold.

Do you have any traditions that help you grow, try new things, or expand your world? Let me know! I'd love to hear about them.

And of course, you're also welcome to steal my crazy tradition, too. You might be glad you did. Just not the next morning. :)

Until next year,


p.s. The best thing I read all week was this simple, three-paragraph piece by Diana Kimball on Letting Go. It says all that needs said, and it's a wonderful thought to take into the new year.

Want to tell your friends or family about the letter? Forward it, or send them here:

Enjoy this letter? Share it!