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.