My Top 5 Favorite Christmas Traditions

My Top 5 Favorite Christmas Traditions

The most festive activities of the holiday season.
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As the Christmas season comes to a close, and life returns back to normal, I figured I would share some of my favorite holiday traditions.

1. Baking.

For as long as I can remember, my mother always baked. No matter what time of year it was, she was baking. This did not change around the holidays; rather, it became more common. Usually, once or twice during the month of December, my mother and I would bake cookies, Christmas Crackle, and other treats to give to my grandparents and other family friends. My friends always love coming to my house during the holiday season because we always have our traditional frosted sugar cookies. I love baking and it is always better to make treats for the ones you love.

2. Decorating.

Growing up, my mother always decorated the inside of my house extensively for Christmas. By the second week of December, the house was decked in garland, window lights, and my grandmother’s old nativity set. Our tree is always full of ornaments, both those my siblings and I made in elementary school and those compiled over the years. Whenever we go on a trip, my mother buys an ornament. I took to this tradition and have decorated my bedroom for the past few years. This was no different this year. I came back from Thanksgiving break with Christmas decorations for my dorm and I had them up an hour after I returned to school!

3. Going to look at lights.

One of my earliest memories after my family moved to Cape Cod when I was a toddler, is one cold night before Christmas getting lost driving around looking at lights. Every year after Thanksgiving, my dad would take us to go look at lights. We would all load into the car and drive around town.

As we got older, my brothers lost interest; however, my dad and I still go out, look at lights, and grab hot chocolate. Recently, these giant light sculptures have popped up around my town. After Thanksgiving, one road in my town is lined with them lit up after sunset. It makes for a great ride, as there are always new ones popping up! Below is one of the giant light sculptures in front of my high school. It is the blue knight, our mascot!

4. Christmas music.

Whether it be old, original holiday music, or old classics revived by popular artists, I love Christmas music. My family has a large basket of Christmas CDs that are brought up every year in our crates of Christmas decor. The staple in my family’s house during the holidays is Clay Aiken’s Christmas soundtrack. It was always playing at all hours of the day; however, when we brought up the CDs this year, it was missing. Needless to say, we have been playing it off Spotify via an AUX cord. When I think of Christmas, I always think of that CD.


5. Yankee swap.

Every year since before I was born, my family has gathered at my mom’s parents’ house on Christmas Eve. We exchange gifts and spend the holiday together. It has always been my favorite day of the year. When all of my cousins, siblings, and I were younger, my grandmother put together a Santa sack full of small toys and clothing for each of us. We outgrew that and within the past few years, we switched to a Yankee swap. This Yankee swap includes all of us bringing a gift, good or silly. It is always the best part of the night. It becomes competitive and fun.

Cover Image Credit: Sarah Simmons

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Christmas Of Remembrance Series: My Last Letter

Christmas time is not about the gifts... It is about something far, far more special.

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Dear Reader,

Thank you for your time.

This is a series that I have dedicated to those I have loved and lost. It was merely a thought, then an idea, and now a realized creation. Christmas time… all winter really is a hard time for me. It holds this duality in my life of being both my favorite and also my least favorite and difficult time of year. It has been that way for years now.

In a way, this series aids my closure and healing further, and it allows me to tell my story in a way that, to me, is less scary (one of the many great facets of this platform). It was never my intention to write this in order to reach people, or encourage people, or serve as an inspiration to anyone. This was for me and only me. No one else. But, if these pieces of writing do impact someone, somewhere, or make them feel encouraged or inspired in some way or another, or just simply make them feel, then I hope you have enjoyed them. If I can make someone feel, then I guess I have done my job.

The life of an artist is often an uncertain one. The life of a human is a trying one. But life is a journey, and all journeys have their trials. Their tests. Their triumphs and rewards. And they all have their losses. What matters most is what you make of all of it. What lessons you learn. What changes you make. What life you create for yourself. What art you create because of it all. It can be very, very hard. But it can all be glorious at the same time.

At the heart of this series, my words, there is this deep and valuable belief of mine: Christmas (or the Winter Holiday that you may celebrate) is so much more about presents and cooking and shopping and all that other bullshit… it is about family.

The family that is related by blood. The family that surrounds your heart. Your Mom. Your brother. Your dearest friends. The bonds that make life valuable. Worth living. These bonds are soulful bonds, ones that are far more special than any mere trivial object. So… be with them. Forgive. Forget. Heal. Mend what is broken. Reassemble what has been shattered. And stop worrying so much. Laugh together. Cry together. Heal on another. Heal together. And may your new days be better, brighter, and full of love.

Happy Holidays.

Ty


A song for you...

"Sense of Home" — Harrison Storm / YouTube

If you liked this series, I invite you to check out my previous article below…

To My Fellow 孤, The Sons Without Fathers On Father’s Day

As well as this article by a fellow creator…

What You Learn Losing A Parent So Young

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