Winter Counts and related holiday traditions

Some indigenous American tribes kept annual winter counts which served as both a physical historical account of their year, but served as visual mnemonic devices leveraging a bit of the idea of a drawn memory palace along with spaced repetition by adding a new image to their “journey” each year.

I was reminded about the idea over the weekend by a dreadful, cheeseball Hallmark Holiday movie A Royal Christmas Ball (2017) (please don’t torture yourself by watching it). The two main characters had a Christmas ritual of creating a holiday ornament every year for their Christmas tree with a design that represented something significant in their lives that year. Because most families generally use and reuse the same ornaments every year, the practice becomes a repeated ritual which allows them to reminisce over each ornament every year to remember past years. It’s a common occurrence (at least in Western society) for people to purchase souvenir ornaments when they travel, and these serve the same effect of remembering their past travels.

If others haven’t come across this idea as a fun mnemonic device for the whole family with built in spaced repetition, I recommend you give it a try. Just don’t everyone necessarily make coronavirus ornaments for this year.

Non-Christians could leverage a similar idea for their annual holidays, feasts, or events if they like. Of course, you could follow the Lakota tribe and make a more traditional winter count.

For those interested in some of the further history and description of the idea of an annual count in the framing of mnemotechny, I would recommend LynneKelly’s book Memory Craft or some of her more academic works.

Liked Youtube Chanukah playlist by David ShanskeDavid Shanske (

Chanukah is upon us next week, and I’ve added to my Youtube Chanukah playlist, which complements my digital music collection of Chanukah songs. It includes some fun ones from Acapella groups that do an annual Chanukah song. I have over 150 tracks otherwise…and may pick up more ideas… Sirius XM’s Radio Hanukkah launches December 20th to 31st on Channel 788. Chanukah is an 8 night holiday, gets 11 days of music. Christmas gets 11 Sirius channels that begin November 1st…Clearly we need more Chanukah songs…they are running out.

I only know of two Sirius channels, so apparently I’m missing out on the Christmas craziness. Do they have channels for every genre of music? And if so, what are the genres of Chanukah? With any luck, one of them is all Klezmer all the time…

👓 Christmas Films | Colin Walker

Read a post by Colin WalkerColin Walker (
It's the start of November and we've got enough Christmas films recorded such that my wife worked out we'd have to watch seven a day, that's right seven a day, to fit them all in before the 25th December. What is it about them? They're obviously "feel good" fodder but they're formulaic according to ...
I resemble this remark… er, um, I mean I resent….

Oh heck, I wholeheartedly identify. It’s so bad that I’ve even got a tag on my website for Hallmark Christmas movies.

🎵 Main Title “Somewhere in My Memory” (From “Home Alone”) – Voice by John Williams, Boston Pops Orchestra

Listened to Main Title "Somewhere in My Memory" (From "Home Alone") - Voice by John Williams, Boston Pops Orchestra from Home Alone (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) [25th Anniversary Edition]

🎵 Santa Claus Is Coming To Town by Michael Bublé

Listened to Santa Claus Is Coming To Town by Michael Bublé from Capitol Studios
Reprogramming some of my radio pre-sets in the car. Apparently 105.1 FM is doing Christmas music instead of Country for the holidays.

👓 Think Melania’s red forest is kooky? Consider the Christmas tree once hidden in a White House closet. | Washington Post

Read Think Melania’s red forest is kooky? Consider the Christmas tree once hidden in a White House closet. (Washington Post)
President Benjamin Harrison is credited with starting the tradition of having a Christmas tree inside the White House in 1889 when he set up a tree for his grandchildren. The tree glowed with wax candles, and Harrison even dressed up as Santa Claus. “Let me hope,” the president said, “that my example will be followed by every family in the land.”

🎵 Feliz Navidad by José Feliciano

Listened to Feliz Navidad by José Feliciano from RCA
I suspect they switched over late yesterday, but two songs in this morning, I’ve already gotten my first dose of Feliz Navidad, for the not-quite-holiday season. Sometimes It’s taken almost two weeks of Christmas music for my first encounter.

Christmas celebrations seem to start earlier and earlier each year. Pretty soon we’ll have Labor Day and them bam! Christmas!

👓 A Critical Analysis of Bob Dylan's 2017 Xmas Lights | Vice

Read A Critical Analysis of Bob Dylan's 2017 Xmas Lights (Vice)
For almost a decade, I have had an unhealthy obsession with the Christmas lights on Bob Dylan's Malibu home. Here's what I learned from this year's display.