Traditions, Family, and Christmas

Traditions are a big part of what make the holidays so special. I’ve been incredibly fortunate for an incredible amount of reasons, but this time of year in particular, I am most grateful for my family, good fortune, and health. Holidays help us, if nothing more, to reflect and appreciate what we have been given in life- if we are lucky. I try to make an effort to show my appreciation, especially to my family, and to think of those who aren’t as lucky.

Family and traditions go together. Sometimes things change over the years or new traditions are made, but the feelings they inspire remain the same. From the house being decorated in every nook and crannie, to the tree-George the 25th- to the last minute rush of getting the Christmas cards out, there are many layers that go into making Christmas special.

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Growing up, I was always the one who set up the manger scene. I can’t remember if I had written this as a post or if it was included in the post that disappeared, but when I was younger, I was obsessed with Barbies and dolls, and I viewed the manger set as more of my playthings. I used to pretend that it was a family welcoming a new baby, which, in its simplest form, is completely true. People may joke, but I don’t play with them anymore, but I do still take an immense joy in setting it up each year to perfection. No one else can do it quite right.

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There’s the mantle with the Christmas scene set up in picture perfect sequence, the tree shining (still lacking in decorations, but that is yet to come). We have the homemade stockings that were gifted to us at birth, the holiday scented candles, and Christmas tunes blaring. Even my family’s favorite picture of all time, the one my mom “photoshopped” in order to fit us all in the same frame by cutting off my Grandma’s petite head and floating her above the rest of us.

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I also happen to be incredibly lucky in that my family remains close and we are all able to spend the holidays together. Christmas Eve starts off with a warm lunch, followed by mass (singing those carols is my favorite part), then having the entire family over to celebrate. From the food, present opening, and the laughter and love, I couldn’t ask for anything more. Christmas Day begins later, even today, than my brother Jimmy and I prefer, as we wait for our sister, Lauren to arrive (or in the younger years, wake up), but after we open our gifts from Santa and one another, we feast on a big breakfast and relax until it’s time for cheesy potatoes that my Auntie Bea makes.

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Many of these traditions have foundations built upon memories of my childhood, which make it that much more special. To be fair, it is never too late to begin a new tradition, but Christmas is the time I remember the people who I’ve lost and miss them the most. Watching old videos from when I’m younger helps to show my Nana and Auntie Tee who spoiled us in love and gifts and were the sources of light, love, and laughter for my siblings and me. I remember Christmas at my grandparents house when my Grandpa was still with us, all of the family sitting around the living room and just being together. It’s sad, but cathartic, and so important to remember these times, and these people, everyday, but particularly on these special days, that emphasize love and appreciation.

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Holidays can be commercialized and materialistic, and I won’t claim to be innocent of this. But that is never my focus or the way I choose to center my celebrations. For me, life and holidays, are all about family, love, and appreciation, and I am incredibly fortunate to be blessed with all three and so much more.

If we are even luckier, check back in tomorrow to see if I was able to convince my family to model all the beautiful Christmas sweaters we have in our collection!

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