t's that time of year again: chug your coffee, ready your keyboards, and get a good night's sleep, because it's finals week. For most college students, the overweening stress of finishing the semester is likely overshadowing the other big event this month, the Christmas/winter holiday season. I don't get to go home until 5 days before Christmas. To be perfectly honest, I miss all of the old traditions my family does to prepare for the season. Here's a few of them.
Picking out the tree
You would think picking out a Christmas tree would be incredibly boring. It's not. I don't know where most people get Christmas trees, but typically come December, some greenhouse in the area will order some trees from a farm, and have them standing up in the lot outside the building, propped up on fences. That's where my family goes every year, evaluating all the different species(Spruce, Fraser Fir, Douglas Fir, all sorts of Pine) and trying to find a tree that will fit through the front door and doesn't look too uneven or blighted. Once we find a winner, Dad gets it prepared and me, Mom, and Sheridan go into the greenhouse itself to buy ornaments, wreathes, and poinsettias to decorate with. We drive back home with a 7-foot-tall tree strapped to the hood of the car, and I watch Mom and Dad haul it into place. We typically decorate it the next day or so. I hope it looks nice this year.
Baking the cookies
My family doesn't bake very often--until the holiday season. Then, over the course of a weekend, my mom bakes at least six different kinds of cookies--and several dozen of each. Macaroons, white-chocolate-chip-craisin cookies, sugar cookies, marshmallow-cornflake wreathes, even good ol' chocolate chip cookies. It's a big time commitment on everyone's part, so me and Sheridan have always helped. My favorite part is sprinkling the various cookie-cutter sugar cookies with sprinkles. Or wielding the cookie gun, which extrudes batter onto the tray in various patterns. It's so much fun; we would always listen to music and sing along the whole time. I miss it.
Decorating my room
Sure, you can decorate a dorm room all you want, but it lacks the magic of doing it as a child. My dad got me and my sister little plastic Christmas trees, which we would coat with various school-crafted ornaments or cartoon characters to the point it would almost topple over from the weight. There were also hanging little doodads like a cinnamon-cross or a overly-glittered "Noel" sign on the dressers. I made a big brown Rudolph statue with googly eyes--and I still have it to this day.
Building the gingerbread houses
Oh boy, this was super fun. Every year, along with all the cookies, Mom would make gingerbread, both in the traditional man-shape to drown in frosting and candy, but also in wall and roof shapes so we could build our own gingerbread houses. We went all in on this tradition, buying dozens of varieties of candy, which would often be snacked upon during construction, solely for this event. Sometimes we would invite friends over so they could share the fun. The best part, besides admiring the patterns and colors we put into the construction, was slowly picking it apart over the next several weeks. The candy was stale and the frosting was rock hard, but it was worth it.
Sigh...I miss spending time with my family over the holidays. Thankfully, in less than two short weeks, I'm going to be home. Then I'm going to make up for lost time.