The Asp Family Christmas Anthology

For twenty-five years, now, I’ve developed and maintained a tradition of writing a new story for Christmas. So this year, with the 25th edition of this tradition celebrated on the 25th day of December, I gave each member of my family a hardbound book titled The Asp Family Christmas Anthology. And I thought it would be fun to share an electronic version of the compilation here, too.

It all started with a Christmas storybook I called “The Heavens Declare,” in 1997. This original edition was handmade on an ancient monochrome “laptop computer” (word processor). It worked well enough for simple printing tasks. But I had to outsmart the technology to create the half-page format in which this storybook was originally “published” for Marci. Upon completion of the story, I printed it out (on an old daisy-wheel printer). The cover was then hand-made from a piece of poster-board. I drew title free-hand, as well as the stars, with a permanent black marker. I stitched everything together by thread run through a sewing machine! It was a humble, painstaking beginning to the tradition… but it was the start of a new tradition!

At the time, we were five months out from our wedding day. Marci and I were talking a lot about developing our own unique family traditions. We wanted to blend Asp family traditions and Anderson family traditions, But we also wanted to create our own traditions. So this was my attempt to add something unique to our holiday celebrations.

And somehow, we’ve managed to maintain the tradition year after year for twenty-five Christmases now. There were definitely some years when the tradition was in jeopardy (2002 and 2009 especially). And most years, it seems like I’m printing the final draft of the story on Christmas Eve. This time around, though, I chipped away at the project for several months. I started compiling and standardizing previous years’ stories way back in the summer. In October and November, I wrote most of this year’s story. Shortly afterwards, I compiled the Christmas photos and designed the cover. And I shipped everything off for “publication” by November 15th, since I wasn’t sure how long it would take for the project to be printed, bound, and delivered.

Fortunately, it all came together in plenty of time! The books were actually the first presents wrapped and placed under our Christmas tree this month. So I’m very proud to share an electronic version of what each member of the family received on the morning of our Christmas celebration:

Is it “high art?” No. Will the stories even make sense to people outside our family? I’m not sure. But for any who might stumble across this corner of the internet and decide to take a look at this book, I might recommend starting with “The Frosty Frolic Five” (2019). I think “Airbags” (2014) and “Tales from the Fields” (2004) have also aged pretty well. So yeah. There you have it. If you get the chance to give any of them a read, let me know what you think.

Regardless of how these stories hit others, I’m very glad for my own record of family history. Writing helps me to process and understand the world around me — and within me. And while I really may not understand much, in the grander scheme of things, I do understand this: I love Christmas, and I love the way that the celebration of Jesus’ birth provides opportunities to intentionally connect with the people that I love the most.

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