When you’re a co-op of 20 million people, you celebrate everyone’s traditions—whether it’s holiday bird-counting, stargazing during the winter solstice or running in the snow dressed as holiday gifts. We asked our members to share their favorite holiday traditions. This is what they said.
Editor’s note: Four of these six member stories originally appeared in REI Co-op’s 2021 holiday catalog.
My holiday tradition: A ski trip and a feast
“Our tradition officially kicked off last winter—we joined a group of friends to ski a Nordic trail locally known as the ‘espresso loop’ because it involves sipping the caffeinated drink at different stops along the route. The trail is fun for many skill levels—even for this San Diego native who is new to the sport.”
My holiday tradition: Stargazing in Sedona
“For as long as I can remember, my sister and I have enjoyed looking skyward together, finding the beauty of constellations and shooting stars. Many of our childhood memories involve tracking major storms, learning about astronomical events and gifting (or sometimes creating) tools to help us understand the night sky. It’s a joy that has followed us into adulthood.”
My holiday tradition: The Christmas Bird Count
“To spread my love of birding to other people with accessibility needs, I founded the nonprofit Birdability about three years ago. Our mission is to share the joy of birding with everybody. That includes people with mobility challenges, people who are blind or deaf and people with other health concerns. This year, I’m starting a new tradition within Birdability—a Christmas Bird Count for people with accessibility challenges.”
My holiday tradition: A Thanksgiving hike
“We started this tradition in 2018 as a way to explore the outdoors, get our families together and cope with the loss of a family member. You see, the holiday season changed for my husband and me back in 2016, when his father passed away from cancer. Our yearly holiday traditions became painful in his absence, so we decided to switch things up.”
My holiday tradition: Fall camping, food, familia
“For the past 11 years, I’ve relished my annual fall camping trip with a group of close friends. We’ve made it a tradition to head “home” each fall for the trip, rain or shine (or, occasionally, snowfall). Our first order of business when we wake up together outdoors is always to put on a piping-hot pot of my version of “café de la olla.”
My holiday tradition: A Christmas run
“Growing up, my family was always very close with my aunt. Every December, we did a gift exchange with her a day or two before Christmas. One year, in 2015, we did our exchange on Christmas Eve, but the next morning, we noticed we forgot to give her one of her gifts. My brother and I began discussing which of us should drive it the two miles into town. That’s when I noticed a red laundry bag, a holdover from my dad’s college days, sitting behind our recliner.”