Every year, as final exams come to an end, I eagerly await going home and celebrating the holiday season with my loved ones.

One of the key features that defines my holiday season is watching and rewatching holiday classics with my family. I can still remember the first time I watched movies like Home Alone and Elf and Santa Claus. The brilliance of a young boy that just wants to enjoy his favorite holiday without the interruption of clueless criminals, the hilarity of an elf trying to find his way in New York, the beauty of a father becoming Santa for his son.

Though these movies get us all in the holiday mood, they all reinforce the misconception of the necessity of snow, 10-foot Christmas trees, reindeer, extravagant Christmas decorations, etc to be able to truly celebrate the holiday season. And yet, each year as Christmas rolls around, I am reminded that all you need is family and some holiday cheer. The best part about watching the movies isn't necessarily the movies themselves but who I get to watch them with.

Every holiday season, I like to approach things with a more open mindset. If my mom wants to go shopping, I'll think twice before I say no. Because maybe, I don't need to focus on the long lines and crowded malls. I think about the conversations I can have with my mom while we're waiting in line, the friends we'll run into in the crowded stores.

Looking back, we never really had the perfect "White Christmas". Living in Houston, you get used to the fact that cold temperatures on Christmas are rare, snow even more so. Even if it is 80 degrees on Christmas, the joy of being together cannot be dampened. We play basketball on Christmas instead of making snowmen, we drink iced coffee instead of hot chocolate, and we wear tanks not sweaters.

Houston Christmas is unorthodox, to say the least, but that in no way takes away from our holiday cheer. Because it's ultimately not about the snow, the weather, the scenery. It's about enjoying and appreciating all that you have in your life. It's about spending time with people you love. And we have as much to be thankful for as anybody.