Everyone knows me as a “Halloween is a lifestyle” type of person. But Christmas- aka the month of Santa Claus, Hallmark binge-fests, and unlimited sweets, is a close contender for my favorite time of the year. This is due to my all encompassing love for my family, and my specific love language of gift-giving. My immediate family consists of my mother, twin brother, and two slightly-younger sisters all of who mean everything to me. My mom and Micah (my twin brother) are possibly my best friends, and I love them and my sisters dearly. As far as gift giving goes, as I’ve grown up I’ve discovered that I tend to show people I love them by spending money/giving gifts even if it’s at a personal sacrifice or loss. I’m sure that says something about me as a student about to graduate and incur thousands of dollars in debt, who has always lived without much money. But I digress.
As a kid I loved Christmas day the best. Most years before she passed my great grandmother would stay overnight and be there in the morning when we opened presents and went about the day’s festivities. In recent years I’ve loved Christmas morning because I’ve really gone all-out with my gift giving game, and there is nothing better than watching the people you love most opening presents they had no idea were coming, and absolutely loving them.
Christmas is a difficult time for me, and my family regardless of presents and family traditions. As previously noted we live without much money, most of us suffer from seasonal depression during the holidays, and now sometimes it doesn’t really feel like Christmas at all. But, there’s one thing that always does and it’s my two favorite traditions, a two-parter if you will, although one is more of a recent addition. Every year after Christmas Eve church we rush home to get changed, only to pile back into the car and drive around the neighborhood to see Christmas lights while listening to various CDs/playlists of Christmas music and often singing along off-key. I’m not sure when but at some point my mom found a “Polar Express Hot Cocoa” recipe on Pinterest and that was integrated into this tradition, (even if it was always too hot to drink along the way).
The second part comes after the Cocoa and Christmas lights, once we’re back home and the rest of the family is banished to their rooms for the night. This tradition started when I was a teenager. After grabbing a drink my mom and I would sit down to wrap the Christmas presents . Sometimes we play music or watch a movie, but most of the time we’re laughing over jokes and blaming each other for losing the scissors again. As we all got older we had to start doing the gift-wrapping in stages as those of us kids who had bought gifts needed to wrap but didn’t want the others to see, to the point where it’s now almost an entire family affair.
I love these two traditions because at their roots, they’re simple moments with my family and at the end of the day, that’s all my Christmas needs. Hell, we could be wrapping individual candy bars for presents and it would still be just as magical for me. Sometimes, it really is the little things that mean the most.