Christmas Eve dawned in spectacular fashion with the Rincon Ridge silhouetted against the orange glow that comes just before sunrise. On this cold and sparkling morning, we were out early to harvest fresh Dungeness crab – before the store ran out. Judging by the other folks lined up at the butcher counter shortly after 7 a.m., we’re not the only family that has made fresh crab a Christmas Eve tradition.

At our house, it would be impossible to list all of the things that have become holiday traditions. Food, decorations, music, the time set aside for gifts – so many become second nature that we don’t even notice until someone mentions that his or her family honors a different set of traditions.

Whenever they can, loved ones come together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to pay respect to the customs that bind people together over time.

And just maybe these traditions have more meaning in a year that brought more than its share of adversities.

So long, 2009, and Merry Christmas, everyone.