Family Traditions: Going Home For the Holidays

For most, the week before finals is about as stressful as it can get. For me, the only thing that always gets me through this particular time is thinking of all the traditions I get to be part of once I'm home. Here are some of my favorites.

Decorating the Tree with Embarrassing AF Ornaments

While most families decorate their tree with decadent ornaments that match perfectly with the rest of their holiday decor, my family does something a bit different. My parents have collected ornaments that my siblings and I have made... since pre-school. Each year, the week before Thanksgiving (Yes I know, putting a tree up before Thanksgiving is basically blasphemy) my mom puts up our tree and drags out huge bins filled with ugly childhood photos. We turn on the latest Christmas album on the speaker - my favorite was a Glee Christmas - and we each wear a fun Christmas hat, as my mom hands us out the ornaments that remind us of how thankful we should be for how much we’ve changed.

While the photos are embarrassing and it all seems cheesy, it’s one of my favorite memories to look back on, and something I look forward to coming home and doing. And, it’s fun going home to fight over who gets to put the topper on the Christmas tree.

Christmas at Nana's

We’ve been going to my Nana and Papa’s house a week before Christmas to celebrate, for as long as I can remember. Nana decorates the house with little Santas and a big tree with presents for each grandchild underneath it. My mom is the bartender and makes white Russians/cranberry martinis for all the adults and the fun begins. After we’ve all eaten our Christmas dinner of spaghetti and meatballs - weird tradition but a delicious one - the kids open their presents and the adults do a white elephant.

While I have never actually got to participate in it because I am a broke college kid, I got to watch last year. What I gathered from it, was that all of the adults bring a big box filled with outlandish gifts, and some hidden treasures and they all fight over who gets what. There’s a lot of laughter, a lot of yelling and a lot of love that fills their house when this game goes on, and it’s something I look forward to witnessing each year.

Opening Gifts One By One

Christmas morning at my house lasts 6 hours, and that is not an exaggeration. Even though my siblings and I are older now, my sister still wakes us all up at 8 am to get started with all the traditions. We begrudgingly leave our beds, wearing our Christmas PJ’s that we received that year and head to the living room. My sister hands each of us the gifts that are labeled with our name on it and my brother builds a barrier or fort with his. We all sit and go in a circle, one at a time, opening our gifts. All of the kids go first and my mom, dad, and grandma wait until the end. Opening them one by one lets all of us focus our attention, the excitement, on that person whose turn it is to open their gift. Christmas only comes around once a year so I’ve always appreciated the fact that we make it as long as possible.

Sticky Buns

My mom may never forgive me for releasing this sacred family secret, but I think the world deserves to know. On Christmas morning, and only that morning, my mom makes Sticky Buns for all of us to eat while opening gifts. I think the fact we only get them once a year, makes them all the more special. They may seem like a typical monkey bread type of treat - but they’re not. The only way to describe them is they taste like Christmas magic. With that being said, below is the recipe, so please make it and bask in the deliciousness.

Movie Marathon on Christmas Eve

This is a tradition that we started doing when my sister was little. Each year on Christmas Eve we drag out the futon mattress, and blankets from every corner of the house, to build the ultimate movie watching room. Instead of watching new movies, we stick to the classics and fill our nights reciting every movie word for word. We start off the night by watching Elf because really there’s no better movie to put me in the holiday spirit. Following that is A Christmas Story, where we are reminded not to shoot our eyes with BB guns and laugh at the lines we’ve heard a thousand times.

Knowing that I have all of these traditions to come home to is what gets me through the last final weeks of school before break. They’re traditions that have given me many years of happy memories and I hope that you can try some of them out for yourself this season!

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