Some love it and some hate it. Nevertheless, once November 1 hits, any talk of holiday festivities are fair game. In the blink of an eye, there are lights strung across avenues, the colors red and green sprinkled throughout every department store, talk of turkeys, what balloons they’re going to have float through the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the yearly threat your mother used of “Santa will bring you nothing but coal for Christmas if you don’t behave”.
Those are just a few examples of how we as a society share the holiday season together. But apart from these shared experiences are things that are special about the holidays for all of us, individually. For me, it’s the Cinnabuns that my mother makes once a year on Thanksgiving morning and the home movies we watch after dinner in the living room, on Christmas evening. They’re family traditions that I always look forward to taking part in. I love talking about the special things my family does during the holiday season because it makes me feel like even in a society where everything's made to be an extravagance, there are some things so sacred to a family. It’s because of this that I asked six college students to tell me what’s special about the holidays to them.
“Every Christmas my parents, my brothers and myself decorate the Christmas tree. During this time we must have on the 1980 comedy ‘The Blues Brothers.’ This tradition began when I was very young and has just continued itself every year. It’s a strange tradition, but it’s our tradition and that’s why I love it. I may even continue it someday with my own family – it wouldn’t be Christmas without the Blues Brothers!"
“On Christmas Eve, we have a longstanding tradition in my family of eating soup in the dining room. Then, we get to open one gift. The gift is always the same – Jingle Jammies! They, however, are always different patterns and colors with every passing year. That night we sleep in them and it just feels so great to wake up and see everyone in such fun pajamas. I've been away at college these past few months, and I miss my family terribly. I cannot wait to see them!”
3. Megan B.
“Christmas Eve is the most important day of the year for Slovakians. We call it ‘Stedry Den’ or ‘The Generous Day.’ For the Christmas Eve dinner, we always start by putting a wallet under the tablecloth to bring fortune and good luck for the year to come. Then we share the following foods to ensure a healthy year: a grape, an apple slice, a pear slice, a shard of walnut and blessed holy wafers. This tradition always happens at my grandparents' house. After we have dinner, we open presents from under the tree.”
“Since the holidays for us are rather relaxed, sometimes just laying around the house gets boring. So after spending the morning with family and sleeping all afternoon, we go to the movies with family friends. Normally we see a comedy and it’s great because we get to see family, friends and have alone time – all in one day! I can’t imagine Christmas any other way.”
5. Megan M.
“I’m not exactly sure when my family started this tradition, but we’ve done it every Christmas Eve for as long as I could remember. After dinner and dessert at my grandparents' house, it would always be the duty of the adults and older cousins to convince the youngest of us to hide upstairs because Santa was coming with gifts for them. For the little cousins, the ‘hiding’ involved a lot of giggling, fidgeting and shushing. Magically, at midnight, the little ones would be ushered downstairs with the chants of ‘Merry Christmas!’ Now as one of the older cousins, I love taking part in creating that magic for my younger cousins and helping out the adults as they carry on this tradition.”
"My entire family and I decorate the Christmas tree together. I know it seems like such a simple thing, but it's really a special and unique time for my family to be together and have fun. We make hot chocolate and listen to Frank Sinatra Christmas music while we hang the candy canes off of the same plastic tree we've always had since I was a child. We also have special ornaments that we hang together that were passed down from my great grandparents and other relatives."
Yes, we love the Christmas music, the parades, the tree at Rockefeller Center and the endless holiday movies. But as this holiday season approaches, I challenge you to take a step back from what the holidays have become commercially. Take a look at what’s right in front of you. Instead of dreading Christmas Eve with your relatives at the dinner table that seems to stretch for miles, give yourself a minute to really look at what’s being handed to you; what experiences you’ve been individually blessed with. I promise you, they’re moments you’re going to want to remember.
Lead Image Credit: Unsplash