Editor's Blog: Our Favorite Holiday Traditions

Shannon Exley, Managing Editor

1. Shopping for ornaments

Every year, one of my family's favorite traditions is shopping for Christmas tree ornaments at our local mall. The tradition started around the time when my parents got married, and they started getting ornaments for my older sister and I when we were born. Everyone has their signature style ornaments that they get every year, too. My dad has to get a Santa Claus ornament; we won't leave Macy's until he's found the perfect one.  His favorite Santas on our tree include the classic wood-carved Santa's head, Santa in an airplane, and of course, Santa on ice skates. My mom, on the other hand, cringes at all the red added to our tree from all of my dad's Santa ornaments. White and silver are her preferred colors for every ornament on the tree. My sister has followed suit with this trend, so both of them usually end up choosing a delicate white or silver "orb-style" ornament, usually with an intricate design. My mom and sister clearly have the most elegant taste in ornaments. And finally, that leaves me: I can never make up my mind on a certain style or trend that I want to go for every year when I choose an ornament. My picks in the past have ranged from woodland creatures to brightly-colored eye-catching ornaments (and yes, these usually do not go with my mom's preferred color scheme). Overall, our tree always ends up looking like a hodgepodge of all different kinds of ornaments, and there are a lot of them that have accumulated over the years. This is one of my favorite activities to do with my family over the holidays; we also have a great time together when we unpack all the ornaments to decorate the tree while listening to holiday tunes, and are able to reminisce on all of our unique ornaments we've gotten over the years.

2. Mexican food on Christmas Eve

So I know most families probably cook a nice meal together and are able to sit around the dinner table and enjoy some home-cooked food on Christmas Eve. However, my family has usually arrived to my house after many hours of travel on Christmas Eve, and no one ever feels like slaving away in the kitchen to make a meal (that's for Christmas Day!) Instead, we drive down to our favorite Mexican restaurant for some homemade Mexican comida. My family eats at this restaurant regularly, and the owner always knows to expect us on Christmas Eve, and it is heartwarming to walk in and receive his big hugs on this special holiday (usually accompanied by a charismatic, "Hola babies!"). I always indulge in a pork tamale when I go here, of course alongside endless chips and salsa! I love getting to catch up with my relatives when we go out to dinner here, all while eating some of my favorite food of all time.   

Maggie Miller, Section Editor

1. Ice Skating

Yes, I am basic, and I acknowledge that fact. That being said, there is something so magical about skating outside during the holiday season, particularly now that it is colder. I will be the first to admit that I'm not exactly graceful, but gliding across the ice, with Christmas lights strung up all around and fun music playing, can make even the most clumsy person feel amazing. Last year, I was fortunate enough to study abroad in London during the fall semester, and as anyone knows who has been to London at that time of year, ice rinks spring up on almost every corner starting in October. Here in DC, there are a few less, but there are still some great options available, such as at the Georgetown Waterfront and The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. Go out and enjoy (and hopefully don't fall down more than once or twice). 

2. Listening to Holiday Music albums

Another mainstream option, but one that, for me, gets to the heart of the holiday season. Christmas carols and other holiday music are a part of my earliest memories, and make me feel nostalgic more than almost anything else. While I refuse to listen to holiday music outside of December, once December 1st rolls around, I tend to play this on repeat. I'm susceptible in particular to full albums, and since I was raised listening to 1940s and 1950s music when we went to my grandmother's house for holiday festivities, my favorites are the Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney takes on the classic carols. I'll also never say no to a Michael Buble album either. Holiday music just creates such a warm feeling, and is one of the core reasons the holiday season is my favorite time of the year. 

Sammy Boyd, Section Editor

1. Watching Christmas movies from my childhood

One of my all-time favorite Christmas traditions is cozying up with a blanket and white hot chocolate and watching all of my old favorite Christmas movies. Even though I’ve seen them all a million times, I love that they remind me of my childhood and the times when I still believed that Santa would be coming to my house on Christmas Eve. Some of my top picks include A Christmas Story, The Polar Express, The Santa Clause, and Home Alone. My family usually watches A Christmas Story while we’re decorating our tree, and it’s fun to find new jokes and lines in the movie that we hadn’t caught before, despite watching it every year. Especially if you live in a super cold and snowy area like I do (shoutout to my upstate New York friends), I definitely recommend staying inside and binge watching some classic holiday movies this year!

2. Volunteering for the Salvation Army Red Kettle

Volunteering together is a unique tradition that I think really brings my family together. During the Christmas season, I’ve found that it’s really easy to get overwhelmed with all the stress of shopping and finding gifts for people, and to forget about the people that are spending the holidays living in poverty. My family has been volunteering at the Salvation Army red kettle for about 10 years, and it’s become another one of my favorite traditions. In addition to being able to help out a really great cause, collecting donations together is a fun way to spend time with my family, especially now that I’m in college and don’t see them as often as I used to. Although it’s usually freezing outside, it’s fun to ring the bell and people watch as shoppers walk around. Plus, when we finally do go back inside to get warm, it feels even better knowing that I’ve helped out someone in my community.

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