With Thanksgiving this week, and the holiday season in full swing, I wanted to share why I participate in Ali Edward’s December Daily project as a 20-something, single, childless person. When I tell people I scrapbook my way through December, they usually look at me with a few expressions: (1) confusion, (2) “wow, you’re a grandma” or (3) support. People who know me know I love taking photos and I love the holiday season. Christmas music, holiday drinks, fuzzy sweaters, Hallmark movies, I’ll have it all. The holidays are a very happy time for my family.
When my grandparents on my mom’s side were alive, they made Christmas Eve a full-blown event. I remember being so giddy as a child, waiting patiently to walk down the shared road on our ranch to my grandparents’ house to see all the decorations, my cousins, aunts and uncles, and admiring my Nene’s tree, which had an ornament with each family member’s name on it. When my grandparents passed away, it was hard and the holidays lost that once magical feeling a bit. BUT, leave it to my mother to ensure we always had a great holiday season. She’d make hot cocoa, take us to look at lights, made my Nene’s favorite holiday dishes, and kept up traditions as best as we could. My mom’s tree rivals the Rockefeller tree in elegance and beauty. It’s truly breathtaking, and the minute I walk through the door and see it as I arrive home for the holidays, I immediately relax and know I am home. The holiday season brings me so much joy, and that’s where December Daily comes in.
I first participated in the project in 2015, my senior year of college. I knew at that time that I was going to law school, and it would likely be on the east coast. This was such a transitional period, as it was my last holiday feeling very much still an active part of my home. Yes, I lived away at college, but a dorm room rarely becomes a true home, so my “home” was still my house in Chico with my parents. While my first album was pretty hodge-podge and far from perfection, I enjoyed the experience of documenting the season. So, my first year of law school, I documented again, journaling about what it felt like to go home after 5 months away, and how our traditions stayed the same or changed. I participated again in 2017, and each year I grow to love this project even more.
My dad once said I’m the only one who forces us to take photos. This has changed over time. My parents have boxes of photos from our childhood, taken with disposable cameras and developed at CVS. With the changes in technology, somehow our habit of documenting fell to the wayside… well, except me. I try to document a lot, probably too much. So, this is why I love December Daily: each holiday season looks similar and yet different, marks transitional periods, shows subtle changes in our family. For example, my 2016 album shows a very pregnant sister, and my 2017 album shows my niece at almost 1 year old. Our Christmas was no longer a bunch of adults sitting together, opening presents. It was centered around my niece opening gifts, giggling, crawling around, and adding a new vibrancy to the family.
My 2018 album will mark my last year as a student, my niece at almost 2 (with so much personality!), and our family in a new year. I like to think of December Daily as a snapshot of our lives during our happiest time, a time that is often nostalgic, emotional, cozy, and centered around togetherness. Ali, the founder of December Daily, always says the albums don’t have to be perfect and you make them work for your life. So, while I don’t have kids to document or traditions with a significant other, I make albums so that my family, in years to come, can look back and remember small moments I capture during the holiday season. I can only imagine how my albums will look in 2025. I’m sure it’ll be different, but I know I’ll appreciate the ability to look back and see how the holidays have changed and the ways they’ve stayed the same.
You can read more about December Daily here. What is a project or activity you participate in that seems a little odd for the stage of life you’re in?