The Love Behind Holiday Traditions

Kate Sams '24, Contributing Writer

As we are in the midst of the holiday season, there are many traditions that families will celebrate to bring up the holiday cheer. You may see a common one as you drive down the streets at night, Christmas lights glowing in the front yards of people’s houses, if you look closely you may see the perfect tree they picked out and displayed in their window. If you look even closer, you may just be able to see the family ornament that means so much to them.

The biggest tradition my family has is picking out new ornaments each year and hanging all of them on both of our trees from years past. Christmas is a time where loved ones come together and celebrate having each other. My mom has a core memory of when she was little decorating for Christmas with her father. She can vividly remember going to that Christmas tree shop down the street from her house in Medway, MA to find the perfect tree and lug it back home and put on the lights and red ball ornaments.
Year after year it would be her dad and her carrying on this tradition, joy would fill inside her as they put up each window light. Her dad passed away in 2001. Since then, my mom has found it important to carry her traditions with my family–not only to ensure that her kids have a similar association with Christmas but also to celebrate her dad who taught her to believe in family.

As we unravel the ornaments, we laugh and joke about all our personal and family ones we have picked out. One of my favorites is one of the most simplistic, a golf cart with the words “villages” on it, a place in Flordia my grandmother used to live filled with golf carts used at the transportation that we loved to drive. It represents the tradition of hers we carried on going to her house and then visiting Disney as a family. We are gathered in our living room with no distractions. We are able to focus on one another.

My dad was a son of a marine who was constantly moving around as a child– many of the places never truly felt like home, especially when his dad was deployed. Now, both his parents have passed, carrying this tradition is even more important to him. Christmas to him was a time for togetherness, to be grateful that his father was able to make it home. It was a time to reflect that many families would be separated or that their loved ones were never able to make it back. Each year, his family of four would gather and relax by watching It’s a Wonderful Life, in black and white of course. They were able to be together and have the coziness of home, even when that home was not permanent.

Every Christmas Eve, my normally hectic family stops what we are doing and clicks on It’s a Wonderful Life, at times, someone will even call out the line from the movie before it plays as we have grown up to these characters. My mom may be worrying about Christmas dinner, my sister about her birthday the next day, my other sister what to wear to church service that we’ll attend after the movie ends, but we all stop. We stop and celebrate this time we have together. Now more than ever, as we grow up it is important to cherish our family time together.

This holiday season, I encourage you to be thankful to have your loved ones by your side, and if you don’t, still celebrate them, lift up their traditions, carry them on so you will always have a piece of them with you. As high schoolers, as we grow up, remember the things your parents/family showed you, the parts of the holiday your grandparents shared because one day you will have the opportunity to celebrate those with someone else. Take time this holiday season to be grateful for your gifts, your home, your friends, and your family, and as you pass someone on the street throw in a cheerful smile because little do you know they may be struggling around this time of year.

I wish you all a merry and bright holiday, celebrating however you do. If you do not have a passed-down tradition, it is never too late to bring some joy into this season, below you can find links on some simple new ways to celebrate. Happy Holidays!


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