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Christmas Tree (Parking) Lot: My Favorite Christmas Tradition

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hampton U chapter.

memories are lined in the smell of pine


The holiday season is one that I cherish oh-so dearly, with a family as big as mine there are plenty of decades old traditions that we participate in every year. Whether it’s an old tradition that we have decided to reinstate or a brand new tradition only a couple holiday seasons old, we make sure to experience it through the eyes of our Christmas spirit and live in the moment, and often times the nostalgia. In our household, we a have a theme for our matching pajamas, Santa hats, or even just a superhero graphic tee. The point is that we are always matching on Christmas morning. After we exchange and open all of our presents, the people of the household get ready to host the extended family for brunch. After brunch we debrief the day and play with our new toys, try on clothes, and just take a moment to reflect on what a great Christmas we had. To end the night we go out to dinner to celebrate a very special Christmas birthday and that is how the day typically goes. Full of tradition, full of love, Christmas is truly my favorite time of the year. The music, the fellowship, the decorations, and the tree! Before any of this can happen, we must pick out the perfect tree.

The sentimental value of a mcdonald’s parking lot

To pick out the perfect Christmas tree, you have to find a tree farm or a tree lot. For as long as I can remember, My Dad would take us around the corner to a tree lot set up beside the neighborhood McDonald’s. It seems odd to say we get our Christmas tree from Mickey D’s, but there is beauty in strangeness, and my family embraces that. This is my favorite Christmas tradition. My Dad backs the truck in so the tree can slide through the back trunk, on top of the folded down seats. We go into the lot and look around a bit, I scan the whole lot with my eyes, even though I know we pick a tree from the same section every time. The back left corner is where they keep the pine trees. My father picks up a few and holds them straight up, we measure it against his height and most of the time we pick a perfect 6 foot tree. The tree has to be full, sturdy, and straight, it’s usually the first one that we pick up, but sometimes you need to see all the options before you pick the right one. We tell the tree lot workers which one we want and the take it to get the stump evened out and they put in in our trunk. The car will smell like Christmas for a week, but it is totally worth it! As soon as we get home, the tree goes into the stand and my Dad leaves the decorations to the rest of the family. Next thing you know, the tree is full of beautiful lights, either Snow White or multicolor depending on what my Mother felt like that year, candy canes that don’t last too long and constantly need to be replenished, and the ornaments, both on theme and the unique ones that we have collected or hand-crafted over the years. The buying and decorating of the tree may not be as special to the rest of my family, but it’s the one tradition that has been consistently been my favorite over the years and it really does make me sentimental. Most likely due to the fact that the presents look better when they are under a tree!

Don’t doubt the power of a patch of grass in a McDonald’s parking lot because it could turn out to be one of many traditions that your own family cherishes dearly.

Serenity Smith

Hampton U '24

Hi!! I'm a graduating senior at Hampton University majoring in psychology with a premedical concentration from Prince George’s County, Maryland. I'm passionate about mental health and writing. My most creative outlet is writing poetry, but I have a newfound love of writing articles about topics important to me.