I am often asked, "What is your favorite holiday"? My answer will forever and always remain the same: Christmas. People always incorrectly assume that it's my favorite because of the gifts, but this particular holiday is far more important than material things. For most of my childhood, I attended a Christian school, where it was frowned upon to replace Jesus with Old Saint Nick. Even though I’m not very religious as an adult, I do understand I was being taught that this time of year, though gifts were received, was more about the celebration of life. This time of year is spread amongst many religious or cultural versions of Christmas, and I believe each has the universal theme of JOY.
Of course, as a child, I anticipated Christmas morning, so I could jump from my bed at the crack of dawn, before brushing my teeth and running to the living room excited to open the pile of presents that had been taunting me under the tree. However, the essence of this holiday lies in the joy I always feel. It's a fulfilling vibe that keeps a smile on my face and makes my heart warm year after year. Cheesy right? Well, when describing how this holiday makes me feel, I have no choice but to be honest.
One of my favorite memories from my childhood was piling in the car with my family and driving down Winter Wonderland Lane. (That's not really what it was called but for story purposes, it is since that what it reminded me of. ) Any who, my family and I would drive through Winter Wonderland Lane and admire the lights on all the houses. Some houses had colorful light shows, while others had gigantic Christmas figures on their roofs and front lawns. Truly a sight to see! So much so, I'm sure I got in trouble for placing either my face or hands on the window.
Another aspect of Christmas I grew up enjoying was decorating. Helping my mom hang Christmas balls from the ceiling and putting tinsel on the tree was such a joy for me, that it continued to be a tradition when I lived by myself. My first apartment was a Winter Wonderland of its own. I turned on my Christmas music, covered my doors in wrapping paper, and hung the decorations with a ribbon just like my mom and I used to do. Being that it was my first Christmas alone, it filled my heart knowing I was able to continue a family tradition and also give it my flair.
Christmas became more special throughout my life once I moved away from home. It was the only holiday I was able to see my family again. I recall the days I couldn’t wait to live on my own before I went off to college. They were supposed to be the best days of my life. However, there were many more days I felt very lonely. Despite the friends I had gained, not being around my family made me very emotional, and I quickly understood the definition of homesick. Christmas was the only holiday I was able to connect with my family and feel whole again especially since flying for Thanksgiving wasn’t feasible. From helping cook holiday meals to taking time to tailor special gifts for my family, it was always something I was able to look forward to. If you've ever moved away from home or been away for a while before returning, then you may know exactly how I felt.
One of the most important elements of coming home was that it started to become a tradition. Christmas just wasn't the same if we all couldn't get together to play board games, laugh about childhood memories, or watch holiday movies. But as time passes, and my family continues to grow and change, it starts to become harder for everyone to get together often. Though it makes me sad, I am hopeful to one day create traditions with my own family. I can see myself decorating with my children, having their cousins over for holiday crafts, having large family gatherings for Christmas dinner while exchanging gifts, and driving down our famous neighborhood Winter Wonderland.
So as I play my Christmas jazz, sip a hot toddy curious as to how my family will spend the holiday this year, I keep this in mind:
'Tis’ the season of love
’Tis’ the season of laughs
'Tis’ the season to create new family traditions
Now I pose the question to you, “What is your favorite holiday”?