Most people have a favorite time of year, or maybe even a favorite day of the year, but I am lucky enough to have favorite hours of the year. My family loves traditions. My mom always says that anything we do together once becomes a tradition to us, and it’s not a lie. Over the years, our Christmas Eve nights have become unbeatable -- my favorite four hours of the entire year. The night starts off with a candlelight church service, probably my favorite part, and then we come home for chicken and dumplings. After we eat, we have our sibling gift exchange but not a normal gift exchange, and a scavenger hunt because my family is anything but normal. Then we open up two gifts, which are always a new ornament and Christmas pajamas. We throw our new pajamas on, grab some hot chocolate, and hop in the car to drive around and look at Christmas lights until we are all tired enough to come home and crash in the one room while watching "The Polar Express." Just writing about Christmas Eve right now has me giddy.These small four hours or so are my absolute favorite part of every single year.
Though I’m partial to my families traditions, I have just always been extremely fascinated by everyone else's as well. Some people put up their trees on November 1, some people wait for Thanksgiving, and some even wait for Christmas Eve. Everyone eats different foods and opens presents at different times. You have to admit, it's interesting. My mom decorates for Christmas professionally, which is probably how I turned out the way I did, and this week, I went with her on a couple jobs and got to learn about other people’s Christmases. One family I helped her decorate for does their decorations in a completely different color scheme than the traditional red and green, pretty much just because they always have. The woman we decorated for today was talking about how some of her grandchildren alternate Christmases between her house and their other grandparents’ house, and how her grandchildren from another child come to her house every Christmas but they wake up at their own house on Christmas morning. It made me so excited for her grandkids, because I know how excited my family’s traditions made me as a kid. They still make me excited now. They have truly kept my childhood Christmas joy alive. To me, our traditions are Christmas. Traditions are a constant. Something that bonds your family and gives you something to look forward to, no matter what else is going on in your life. Last November was not a great time for me health wise, but let me tell you my Christmas was beautiful, and my Christmases always will be. I knew last year that despite everything, on December 24 I would be ignoring everything else to focus on church, pajamas, and chicken and dumplings. On December 25 I would wake up, open presents with coffee and cinnamon rolls, and then we would head off to grandma’s. Maybe it’s just my extreme and undying hatred for change, but truly nothing from this world makes me happier.
I can’t say that traditions are the most important part about Christmas. In fact, I suppose that with Jesus being the most important and family being second, maybe I am here to argue that they are the third most important thing, but they are darn important. So whether you eat Chinese food with your neighbors or ham and potatoes with your grandparents, whether you open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning at 6 a.m., enjoy your traditions this Christmas season. May your holidays be merry and bright!