Seeking Traditions In A Holiday Season

Seeking Traditions In A Holiday Season

Reminiscing About Our Memories Surrounding The Holidays
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Every year, we don’t expect Christmas or any other holiday that you might celebrate to come around. Personally, it’s not until the snow comes and I start playing holiday music myself that I really come to start realizing that it’s actually really close to the holidays. It’s a really weird realization that it’s so close to the holiday season when you’re so busy going to school, working, and just living life. It’s so weird that it seems like the holiday season has come and is going away. Not realizing the moments where we might be bringing back a memory and living through it through the traditions that our families hold sacred. Seeing as few changes as we all wish were possible for a lifetime.

For the past few years, it’s been watching my sister coming home from college, my family going to get our tree from a farm at the border of Wisconsin and Illinois. It’s an all-day adventure traveling up with family friends and the King family pooch. It’s an adventure that I look forward to each year and is fun walking around various fields looking for a tree. In my family, it’s a newer tradition, if I can even call it that at this point, but it’s one that has been existing for about 4 years after my sister and I pestered our parents for years about switching from a fake to a real Christmas tree. It’s totally worth the 3 hour drive for so many memories, not to mention the Golden Retriever puppies that the farm raises. Walking through the forests and rows of pine trees of all types is an experience where you’re looking for a tree that’s just right. It sounds so weird saying it out loud, but it’s still a memory I cherish year after year.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve received a White House ornament. My cousin, Jenna, sister, Alex, and I have received an ornament from my parents each year. It’s really cool to see the changes and designs of each ornament every year. From the 2000 ornament dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the White House to the 2008 ornament of a Victorian Christmas tree and even my favorites of the 2002 and 2005 ornaments of the East Room in 1902 and the South Facade of the White House. Each year the designs are different and still reflect an elegance that I’ve personally always associated with the White House. From president to president there are so many traditions that are passed down, and receiving this ornament each year is a look into the reflection of our country and its years being passed down from generation to generation.

The seemingly strange tradition of receiving an ornament and cutting down a Christmas tree are special to me. But to me, the best part of the holidays has been cherishing what I can throughout the years. With the job that my dad has, for years it was a weird feeling having a Thanksgiving without him or the years of switching from spending Christmas Day at my grandparents surrounded by warm smells and family to being home and having family visit us. The once large family reunions held in the later winter months have dwindled as family members have passed and plans become more complicated of who’s coming. I no longer see grandparents that were so special to me, but I remember them and am reminded of them by all of the Christmas pieces and memories. Those sleepovers with my cousin, sister, and I all snuggled up in our matching American Girl® sleeping bags in the quaint sewing room of my grandparents house. Or seeing the wood-paneled walls of my grandparents basement and the faint smell that always existed, no longer knowing what it was. Or the always existing scent of cinnamon-apple air-fresheners that kept a blanket of aroma all around my grandparents house that still brings back memories whenever I smell that scent. Being so young, my grandparents house was a place of warmth and so many feelings of happiness and thankfulness. After the years and life setting in and taking over, I felt like I had lost the small traditions that my family held.

Even the more “interesting” traditions of my family make Christmas so special for me. I live for Christmas Eve; not only is it going to a late church service where the candles all lit up in the sanctuary in such an awe-inspiring sight, but before that, it’s going out for some sort of Asian food (typically Chinese, although we’ve had Thai in the past) with family friends before church. It’s following that whole scene in A Christmas Story, ya know: the one with the leg lamp and the pink bunny suit. It’s a tradition that we’ve bended and tweaked over the years, being home for dinner when my dad had fallen down the stairs earlier in the day carrying presents and realizing after dinner that he should go to the emergency room or when we’ve expanded and been around friends for the tradition, even getting Thai food in place of Chinese because the restaurant we really liked sounded like a good idea. It’s not perfect, but it’s been a tradition for as long as I can remember and one that not only has me excited for good food and great friends, but a night full of celebration and warmth.

I relish in memories and people to seek happiness. I dwell with friends who create memories with me and leave me so glad and wondering how I met these wonderful people I get to call friends. They accept me for my quirks, roll their eyes at the moments of sarcasm and the oh-so-many laughs that I never want to fade. They don’t mind that sometimes my sense of humor is quite awful, if we’re being completely truthful. I seek happiness in feelings of content and love. I want to hold on tightly to a world of my own that change can’t rip away parts of my life or make me cry at the change brought on. I live for friendships that don’t fade and a love of family I know will never fail. I do know that I want memories that have come and gone, faded perhaps, to live on and not slip away from times when I know life was alright to say the least.

So here I am talking about where I’ve seen traditions in my life, and I do have a few. When thinking of writing this piece, honestly, I had expected to be almost longing for traditions that I found in my life. For times when I saw memories adapt with friends still by our sides. Seeing the love and memories and joy in my life, even just in the holiday season, I’m so grateful for what traditions I’ve been lucky enough to have and the family memories made each year as time goes by and life goes on. Each year celebrating not just the season itself and the holidays associated, but the memories and the family and friends that I’m surrounded by. Taking breaks from our busy lives of school and work to be thankful for those little moments we all cherish throughout life. Not quite reliving through old memories, but adapting them to the changes we see fit as change has applied to our lives still holding them sacred. Each tradition isn’t about keeping it the same year by year, but adapting to those few changes that appear each year as we live our lives.

Cover Image Credit: Lisa Dabrowski

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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I'm Keeping My Christmas Tree Up All Winter And There's Nothing You Can Do About It

It's the WINTER Season... ;-)

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I think that my tree would not be considered Christmas-y if the ornaments are taken off and the lights are kept on. I think to just looks wintry. I am also keeping up decorations that say "let it snow", and I am keeping up any snowman without holly berries or presents in their hands.

The tree looks wintry in my opinion. It looks pretty with the lights and brings the room together. It gives off a warm ambiance, unlike that of fluorescent lighting.

I've taken all ornaments off except for gold snowflakes and I've left the silver tinsel garland on as well as the lights. It looks wintry to me still. I will probably be taking the whole tree down by the end of this month to prepare for Valentine's Day decorating. (Yes, I pretty much decorate my apartment for every holiday—sue me).

There's nothing like coming downstairs and seeing those lights sparkling.

Or coming inside from a dreary, rainy day outside and seeing them light up the room in a calm, warm, and comforting glow.

Or having a bad day, looking up, and seeing them shine.

It sort of makes me upset when I come downstairs and see that someone has unplugged them, to be honest.

I guess they don't see it as I do.

Pretty, twinkling lights forever!

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