The five things that I love about Christmas with my family:
1. My mom is always way more excited than any of us. Not to open her gifts, necessarily (though she loves that, too). But she is genuinely excited for us to open our gifts to see the look on our faces. She’s been this way for as long as I could remember. She is the most horrible secret keeper and so she’s been sitting on her lips for months waiting on this moment. Finally, the anticipation can come to an end.
2. We do not skimp on Christmas. We always go full-out. Santa still comes and up until this year used the exact same wrapping paper since I was a kid. It was striped like a candy cane. All decorations go out. Full nativity scenes, advent calendars a plenty, nutcrackers, Santas, soft peppermints, all of it. All gifts are wrapped, no lame Christmas boxes or bags, our grandmother always has ribbon, too. The thick kind thats you kind of want to save. Two Christmas trees. One for the formal dining and the outside window peekers, and one for us in the family room. Every single year. Mom also manages to get out Christmas cards to every living being we know. I tried his one year and maybe got to fifteen before I quit and I’m not entirely sure I ended up with enough stamps to mail them. In my house, Christmas comes full force, and you know the season has arrived when Luther begins to play.
3. It used to be kids, specifically my sisters and I guess at one point it was just me who brought the excitement. But now that we are all grown-ish, the surprises are not so much from Santa but from each other. I love getting gifts from the people who know me best. They’re always so filled with love, thought, and intention. The same with giving. It’s never just shopping, it’s finding the perfect gift that will make their eyes light up. They’ll know you were thinking of them when you bought it (or made it–Christmas isn’t always about the expensive stuff).
4. The food. I’m Southern. And my family believes that no one should ever come to your home during the holidays and leave empty handed. So my mom and dad always have cakes baked. Pound cakes. Chocolate cakes. Lemon pies. Pecan cookies. Muddy buddies. Caramel popcorn. In random assortment for us and for guests. Mom also always buys extra gifts for people and keeps them under the tree all wrapped just in case someone should stop by. My grandmother used to do this too. In the south, someone is always just stopping by. Especially during the holidays.
5. The joy. When I come home now, i unapologetically spend copious amounts of time with my family. Mine is a family that loves spending time together. I laugh with my sisters, I talk to my dad about current affairs–as much as I can, he always knows more than I do–I shop with my mom and we trade clothes and accessories. I love my family. I always have. They are the most important people in my life. And we have always had the kind of family people want to be around. I love that and one day hope to have a partner and children who replicate that same dynamic.
I’m so blessed to have spent thirty Christmases with my mom who I swear was one of Santa’s elves in a past life. I’m grateful for Michael bringing his family tradition of Christmas stockings into our lives. It’s one of my favorite parts of Christmas morning. I’m in awe of my little sisters who are not-so-little and who surprise me all the time with how mature they are becoming. But they still have so much of their innocence, still giggly, still silly, not at all cynical. I’m blessed that we enjoy each other’s company as much as we do. I’m happy I decided to come home for Christmas.