Sometimes, as I get older, the holidays feel like they are starting to lose the magic they had in childhood. Time moves faster, school gets more difficult, my responsibilities pile up and I almost don’t have the time to enjoy the season.
In times like these, holiday traditions lift my spirits and bring back that magic. They can be as big as attending a community event, or as small as a cup of hot chocolate on a December morning. Either way, traditions make me pause and remember how special this time of year can be.
That’s the best part about holiday traditions? There are no rules about what they have to be, as long as they provide enough joy to justify bringing them back the next year.
Each year since my freshman year of high school, my best friends and I have gotten together for “Friend-Christmas.” A few days before Christmas, we pick a place—a friend’s living room, a coffee shop, a park, wherever it may be—and we exchange gifts and enjoy each other’s company. Now that I spend most of the year in Maryville, this tradition has become even more special. I look forward to being back in my hometown to celebrate with old friends.
As for my family traditions, they tend to be a bit less planned out—maybe a classic holiday movie on one night, a drive to see the Christmas lights on another. Something I have looked forward to each year since childhood is Pillsbury cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.
When I was younger, I might have been more insistent on sticking to a strict holiday schedule to make sure we got to every tradition my siblings and I deemed important. But as I’ve aged, it has become less about the traditions themselves and more about what they represent.
For example, there are several holiday classics that my family and I watch every year, but if we decide to skip or replace one with a different movie, nobody is overly upset. The point is to remind ourselves to slow down, enjoy the holiday season and appreciate the time we have with our loved ones. That can be done regardless of whether we choose to watch Miracle on 34th Street or Elf.
As busy college students, we spend roughly the first half of the holiday season almost ignoring the fact that the holidays are even happening. We are so swamped with end-of-year assignments, exam-prep and finals that by the time we finally go home and get to take a break, the holiday festivities are halfway over.
While we can’t ignore our responsibilities simply because the holidays are here, I propose that we try to carve out a little bit more time in our week to celebrate the season with small traditions.
Take a quick break from studying to drink some hot chocolate; close your laptop and look out the window when it snows; watch your favorite holiday movie with a friend; or go on a short drive through Maryville’s neighborhoods to see the houses lit up in festive colors.
However you celebrate this time of year, I encourage you to embrace the traditions that felt magical in childhood. Who knows? A quick holiday themed pick-me-up might even be just the thing you need to ace your finals this year.