PolaroidGrowing up, my childhood holiday seasons were, for the most part, like many people’s—decorating a tree, visiting Santa Clause in the mall, attending Christmas Eve Mass, and waiting anxiously for the morning when I could rip open packages and play with a new toy. To this day I can only remember a few toys that were memorable. However, I’ll always remember one special Christmas as a child.

In 1971 my family moved from Washington State to Northern California. That holiday season we traveled to Los Angeles to visit friends and take in all Southern California had to offer. We visited Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and San Diego. Nearly 50 years later I can still remember the trip and will never forget it.

Later in life when I grew up and had a family of my own, I began the usual holiday traditions—hanging lights on the house, decorating a tree, taking the kids to see Santa, wrapping gifts, and waking up Christmas morning to witness the tornado of flying wrapping paper, giggles and smiles. While those were great times, again I can only remember a few Christmases that really stood out.

After our twins (Andre and Sarah) turned 21, my wife, Sabrina, and I changed things. Since 2014 we have traveled on or near the holidays to celebrate Christmas, which also is the twins’ birthday. (That’s right—Andre and Sarah were born on Christmas Day. Now that’s a Christmas gift!) We’ve celebrated in San Francisco; Prague; Vienna; Budapest; New Orleans; Ottawa, Canada; and Kauai. We often switch from a hot destination to a cold one. This year we’ll be in Washington State.

I can honestly tell you that every Christmas has been memorable since we started travelling over the holidays, much like my family trip to Southern California as a child. We plan on continuing this tradition for as long as we can because it helps keep us together and engaged. I hope whatever tradition your family celebrates creates wonderful memories.