Thursday, December 10, 2015

holiday traditions

The holiday season has always felt like a magical time to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched one (or 20) too many cheesy Christmas love stories on Hallmark, but I just love the sense of excitement and hopefulness that surrounds this time of the year. Seeing holiday lights on the houses and giant Christmas trees set up in the mall, people bundled up in scarfs and hats and powdery snow falling at night… Okay, so this description is about 1000 times more Hallmark movie than Iowa reality (especially since it hasn't snowed in weeks here!), but you get my point, right? The holiday season is beautiful.

I think the hardest part about the holidays as an adult is the change in traditions that happens naturally over the years. When I was a kid, my family had all kinds of little traditions and things that we did every year. But then my siblings started going to college or spending Christmas with their significant others, my parents got divorced and suddenly we all lived in different places and it was really hard to get everyone to one place at the same time. And while I know the holidays will never be the same as they were when I was a kid, I’ll always remember the traditions my parents started all those years ago. Here are some of my favorites:

Leaving a homemade cheeseball, crackers and Pepsi for Santa. I have no idea how or when this one started in my family, but I don’t remember ever leaving just plain old cookies and milk for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. My mom is famous for this cheeseball she makes for family get-togethers, so we would always leave that and Ritz crackers. And a bottle of Pepsi. Mom and Dad said the Pepsi was because Santa would be tired during his present deliveries, so this made sense to me at the time. I later made the connection that Pepsi also happened to me my parents’ favorite drink…

Opening one present on Christmas Eve. I grew up in a family of six, so aside from the presents my parents would buy for my siblings and me, we would all draw names and each person would get a gift for one other person. (Being the youngest, I definitely had it made with this one because Mom and Dad would always buy my gift for whoever’s name I drew.) Then we would all open that one present on Christmas Eve. I always loved this tradition because as a kid (okay, and even now as an adult) IT IS PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO WAIT UNTIL CHRISTMAS MORNING.

Decorating the tree and listening to Christmas music. Honestly, Christmas music is probably my favorite genre of music. It’s so great! I have to force myself not to start listening to it before Thanksgiving every year (but I usually cheat). My mom and I (and whoever else was around) always used to plan a day to put on Christmas music and decorate the tree. My mom was usually in charge of picking out decorations (and let me tell you, there were some unfortunate ones), but we always had fun putting them up. And I always had a blast dressing up in the tree skirt and garland. 

Watching cheesy holiday movies. Adam gives me endless crap for this one, because I still try to watch as many holiday movies as I can, and, inevitably, I try to make him watch them with me — which he hates. One of my favorites is “Holiday in Handcuffs” with Melissa Joan Heart and Mario Lopez. It’s very cheesy and very unreal, but I love love love it. Plus, I made Adam watch it with me when we first started dating, and right in the middle he asked me to be his girlfriend, so I’m pretty sure it will always remain one of my favorites. Sorry, Adam, you did this to yourself! ;)

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Do you continue any of them today, or have you made new traditions? I'd love to know...

P.S. 7 holiday activities to do in Des Moines, what to wear to holiday parties and my gift guide series 

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