Making memories is my goal this year. Throughout the past year, I would look for fun activities, places to go, dining opportunities, new experiences, etc. With extended family joining us for the first time this holiday, I hoped some get-acquainted games might be fun. Among the questions for one game: "Tell about your favorite holiday memory." I was surprised when more than half of the responses were memories at grandma's house as a child. I was surprised when the more challenging question was "What was your favorite Christmas gift to date?" Group activities, sounds, sights, and smells make for the lasting memories.

Holiday gatherings change locations, and some relatives come and go, but there are some traditions that last through the years. Certain foods that can't be left out, special ornaments and decorations that must be displayed, movies that warm the heart, attending special church services, driving to see the Christmas lights, and even shopping at a certain store on the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, the day after Christmas, etc. Preserving those memories through scrapbooking has become quite popular.

Valentine's Day, traditionally for lovers, would also be a perfect time to make memories with children of all ages. A day of relaxing at a spa is pleasing to both men and women of almost any age. Baking decadent chocolate tortes or heart-shaped cookies, roses and champagne, taking an overnight getaway, or spending an evening at home with music and candlelight are all possible choices. How about attending a play, concert, or art exhibit? A special ski trip, ice skating, or sporting event qualifies as special time as well. In fact, you could do more than one!

Rituals and traditions must be positive memories for those in attendance, or the experience should be changed or discontinued. Life is too short and time goes by too quickly to miss memory-making opportunities. Spend time with friends and family-enjoy the experience. Happy Valentine's Day 2005. AA!