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Every year right around this time, my family starts to put up our Christmas decorations. The frost on the window pain becomes a freezing negative degree temperature. The gutters freeze over looking like a waterfall and everyone is iced in for the winter. Christmas music travels softly through my kitchen with the warm smell of hot cocoa after just coming back inside from sledding. I live in a small historic New England town just north of Boston and small towns in my area are known for having many traditions for the holidays. My mom always puts up wreaths and garland all over the staircase banisters, outside the front porch. There are many traditions over the years that my family have followed during the holiday season. Still to this day, my parents always surprise my siblings and I every year by putting presents under the tree on Christmas morning. We all have to wait at the top of the stairs and for my parents to get ready to even go downstairs until they start recording. My siblings and I get tired of waiting every year but I also know how happy my parents are when they see our faces opening up presents. We also attend the afternoon church service and pageant; my family isn’t super religious but it’s important to go and give thanks. I realized that as I get older I have more of an appreciation for people that come to practice a certain belief and be part of a community.

Another one of my favorite things to do around the holiday season with my sister is to create a list of Christmas movies to watch and check them off the list as we watch them. Some of our favorite movies to watch are obviously Elf and Home Alone, which are classics. Love the Coopers which is a newer Christmas movie where Diane Keaton holds together the spirit of Christmas for her family and the movie follows the story of Keaton, her husband, and two children as they all come together to celebrate for the holidays. Another one of my family’s favorite movies is Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation. We watched this movie for the first time a couple of years ago with my grandparents and it is one of those movies where the humor is so bad but it is hilarious. It is also one of the only movies my entire family can agree on, which is a hard thing to do. My grandmother always has a large and elaborate Christmas display: stringing garland, cranberries and setting up artificial trees all over, and decorating every square inch of her house. She loves the Christmas season and we have created so many traditions with her. My sister and I still love baking Christmas cookies with her, which seems so mundane, but I know she loves it. My grandmother is very particular about the order and way that we have to go about making them but they always end up tasting so good in the end. Some of the cookies we bake include snickerdoodles, peanut butter Hershey Kiss cookies, and M&M cookies. 

I think the reason why these traditions are so special to me is that they take me back to my childhood, which is a place that has been feeling really foreign to me recently. Not being at home in this place of blissful memories makes this time difficult because of the environment that I am in now with only a couple of weeks before finals week. I don’t have the same Christmas feeling that I always do. I think being away from home during this time also shows a growth period for me as I am learning to do things on my own for the first time. There is something to look forward to and work towards in the end. These memories are not going anywhere because I know that I will still look forward to them during the break. I think that these traditions make going home such a more special place to look forward to going home. I have also realized that the people in my life take joy in the happiness of others and never expect anything in return and they radiate this unconditional love. The fact that I have such a special place filled with warm memories makes me so grateful. This small little idyllic town filled with happy memories from my childhood is my home and sanctuary. During the holiday season, it makes it that much more special when I go back. 

My name is Caroline and I am a first-year at Denison University and am from Boston, MA. I am studying psychology and considering a pre-med track. In my spare time I enjoy traveling, reading, playing tennis and spending time with my friends. I'm writing about topics I am passionate in and hope to form connections with people through my writing.
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