Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Memory Tree and Giving Cows

In my household, I get accused of being a pack rat. My husband gets accused of being wasteful. It's all a matter of perspective I suppose, but one thing is true for both of us: We each have a shoebox full of various items that hold memories - things that don't really seem to have a place to live, but definitely warrant keeping.

Many of my items look something like this:

See anything familiar in that stash?

Andrew's box is mostly full of ski passes, which, when 11 years worth are laid out in order, show the beautiful passage of time. Like school pictures for grownups. 

Last year, in an unusual fit of Christmasy nostalgia, we crafted all our items into ornaments for our tree. A tree full of memories. A new holiday tradition!

For race medals, I cut the ribbons off or tied them into decorative bows, and then added a hook for hanging. Voila:

Marathon PR from a loooooong time ago!

Andrew and I won this race together. And if you don't think canoe races in Northern Minnesota are competative, you haven't spent much time Up North. Apparently winning with a girl on your team was previously unheard of.

Some people like to make funny faces for their ski pass pictures.

Some medals don't require additional ribbons or adornments.

The Memory Tree

Something else we did last year, which officially qualifies as a tradition since this is now year number two, was join Nathan Bransford's Heifer International fundraiser.

Heifer is a great organization! In their own words, Heifer International is a global nonprofit with a proven solution to ending hunger and poverty in a sustainable way. Heifer helps empower millions of families to lift them out of poverty and hunger to self-reliance through gifts of livestock, seeds, and trees and extensive training, which provide a multiplying source of food and income.

Last year, we raised enough at Daily Adventures to donate two flocks of chicks!

Here's how it will work: For every comment on this post between now and midnight on Christmas Eve, I'll donate $1 to Heifer International. You can tweet and share to help get more comments. I'd also encourage you to visit Nathan's post and comment over there (His deadline is 6:00 PM Friday.), as well as check out the link list of other writers involved in the fundraiser. (And while you're over at Nathan's, read this post from Monday on "How Art Changes With Us" because it's completely awesome.)

In your comment here, tell me your name, where you're from, and your wish for 2011.

That's it! Thanks for helping to support a great organization. Happy holidays, everyone!


  1. Hooray for Heifer! Thanks for participating!

  2. Woo hoo. Another writer from Tahoe. :-)

    I love Heifer. I'm Angelia Almos from SLT, California and my wish is for those who need help are able to find it.

  3. Thank you for doing this (from a former Incline Village resident.)

  4. The memory tree is an awesome idea!! :)

  5. John from San Jose, CA here. Wish you have a Happy Holidays and an awesome running year in 2012! =)

  6. That was such a cool idea for your tree. I love it!!

    Merry Christmas. :)

  7. Great Idea! I'll have to do this with our medals :). And, thanks for donating...what a great thing to do!

  8. Great ideas, Gretchen, to donate to Heifer and to use your medals for your tree! One of my wishes for 2012: to spend two weeks in Telluride with my family in early July, going on a river trip with extended family, celebrating 4th of July there, and then pacing/crewing a friend at Hardrock. So maybe I'll see you there!

  9. Paige, Chicago, IL! And can this count as two comments if I add Geof, Chicago, IL?? :) Love this cause, love that you do this :)

    Your memory tree is fantastic!! Almost all of our ornaments are either a gift, a finisher's medal, or handmade by Geof's mom. It makes the tree even more special :)

    Merry Christmas, Daily Adventures!

  10. Love your memory tree! :)

    Thanks for being so generous! I am Mira from the San Francisco Bay Area and my wish for the upcoming year is everyone will have the courage to pursue their dreams!

  11. Great idea for the medals. I am very familiar with Heifer, International. I have been asked to make a donation to them instead of giving someone a a gift at my job

  12. Sarah from Portland Oregon! My wish is for world peace. :-)

  13. Very cool Heifer tradition; count me in for a dollar - one of yours, of course.

    I'm Donald from sea level, CA, and I wish I could figure out what race to enter for 2012.

  14. Nathan sent me. Merry Christmas and thanks for caring.

  15. Running and cows. Both excellent endeavors, especially donating to the Heifer International. I know of some villages in Africa who were changed by this.

  16. Scraping in under the wire! I hope! Huzzah for Heiffer!

  17. I love your tree decorations. My husband collects ski passes and I have a box of medals! I love Heifer International and I'm still hoping for a white Christmas in Tahoe!

  18. Oops, missed the donation period, but what a LOVELY tree decorating idea! I have a ton of medals clanking on the side of my bedroom mirror for lack of a better place to keep them. I love your new tradition- maybe one I'll pick up next year too! Thanks for sharing all your wonderful memories~ :)