It was a whole decade ago, back in 2006, that I first started a humble little blog over on blogspot.com. This was back before the age of social media, so telling friends and family what you were up to was done via blog post back then rather than via status updates. As such, I’d found many of the new friends I’d made swing dancing had blogs of their own, including a lady named Vivian I had been trying to get to know better. So, I signed up to have a blog of my own, and I’ve been updating it regularly ever since, documenting my entire relationship with Vivian in the process.
So, to commemorate these past ten years, here is a list of my top ten favorite traditions that have come about in my life since I started this little blog. Enjoy!
- The Applejack Festival: It seems the only time we get down to Nebraska City is when thousands of other people are jamming the roads to watch the parade or buy caramel apples around town during the Applejack Festival. We always start our visit by getting pancakes from the Pancake Man down at the fire house. Then we might check out the used book sale at the library before taking in a parade, sampling apple wine down at the Arbor Day Farm, or picking apples up at Kimmel Orchard. Hannah and Aaron have gone every year of their lives (so far).
- Vala’s Pumpkin Patch: The pumpkin patch / amusement park out in Gretna is a tradition for anyone with kids or who are kids at heart. The jumping pillows, go carts, the mechanical dragon, and acres and acres of play areas are a draw for us and lots of other people each year. The price of admission goes up every year, but I have a whole blog entry to help you save money.
- Shakespeare on the Green: Nebraska Shakespeare puts on a comedy and tragedy at Elmwood Park every year for free (with donations), so we usually make a day of it coming early to lay down a blanket and then hang out on the green with our friends, a bunch of snacks, and a bottle or two of wine.
- Friday Fish Fries during Lent: I have to credit Eric/Onion-Boy with introducing me to the uniquely Midwestern (and Catholic) tradition of standing in line for hours drinking beer and then gorging on fried fish, all inside a church. St. John Vianney has been our Fishy Friday destination for years, not just for the assortment of beige, carb-laden food, but also for the live music, raffles, bake sales, and more. Good times never seemed so good. (So good! So good!)
- The Cheese Party / Hors D’oeuvres Party: We hold one of these every year, alternating between the two themes. Vivian and I love food, and having some kind of party / competition with our friends has been a great way to break through the gloomy months of winter, post-Christmas.
- Christmas at Union Station: Kicking off the holidays wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Union Station. Vivian and I go with the River City Confectioners to help visitors decorate cookies while Hannah and Aaron see Santa. Then we’ll join the crowd as everyone sings along with a Christmas carol or two before watching the Mayor of Omaha light up the tree.
- Concerts at Memorial Park & Loessfest: every year, a couple well-known bands come to give free concerts in the metro area, and I always look forward to seeing who they’ll be. We’ve seen Kenny Loggins, Kool & the Gang, Joan Jett, Eddie Money, Chicago, Three Dog Night, Loverboy, Pat Benatar, Smash Mouth, Uncle Cracker, Sugar Ray, Styx, Foreigner, and even the Beach Boys with John Stamos, and we usually bring the kids along for the ride.
- The Sushi Anniversary: When Vivian and I made our dating relationship “official,” it was immediately after a trip to Sakura Bana for sushi with friends on January 26, 2007. Every year, we mark the occasion by having sushi someplace. It’s usually in Omaha, but we once celebrated at the Rio’s seafood buffet in Las Vegas.
- First Date Anniversary: Vivian and I went to the (now closed) French Cafe for our first official date (before we made it “official”) back on Dec. 23, 2006. Every year, we mark the occasion with dinner — often in the Old Market — and then a brief walk in the bitter cold to see the Christmas lights at the Gene Leahy Mall. We also buy some Christmas fudge down at the Old Market Candy Shoppe.
- Wedding Anniversary and Comic: Every year on July 19, Vivian and I have a tradition of celebrating our anniversary by going someplace (usually with a swimming pool or a water park). Sometimes it’s a trip to Kansas City, a road trip to Mount Rushmore and back, or just a drive across the river to Des Monies. We finish the day with a lobster dinner to commemorate our honeymoon in Bar Harbor, Maine, and I present Vivian with a comic illustration of our year together.