It’s Christmas people! THE MOST WONDERFUL TiME OF YEAR! We have had a full TWELVE days of December to break into the holiday season full of Christmas festivities, decorating, cookie exchanges, school performances and on and on. As I stare at my Christmas tree with hot cocoa in hand, I am reminiscing on all the years full of Christmas magic and traditions that have kept the holiday magic alive year after year. I am a lover of the traditions though sometimes trying to keep them all going is a tiring affair (I’m learning to simplify). But I think they help us stay present to the season and keep it all so wonderful and special.
I have had many traditions through the years and I thought I would share my TOP THREE Christmas traditions through the years. So…hold on to your hats.
The FIRST is Christmas Eve with the family!
For the first decade of my life, my mom, dad, brother, and I would gather with my mom’s side of the family (about 40 other relatives give or take a dozen) for dinner, games, gift exchanges, and a lot of running around for my tiny legs. round family fun. This was always my favorite time of the year and I loved having a large number of family members around. There was so much LIFE happening. And I loved it. I must admit this tradition is almost completely lost for me at this stage of life, but I have high hopes for reinstating this tradition in the future.
The SECOND is decorating!
I loved and still love decorating for Christmas. From the time I was about five years old, I would always decorate the tree with my mom. Every December was met with my anticipation looked for unwrapping those ornaments like I was discovering them for the first time. By the time I was thirteen, I started taking on the majority of the decorating around the house. On the years when my dad couldn’t hang Christmas lights, I would even make window displays in the living room and put candy canes and a few lights out in the yard.
My roommates and I pick a night every December where we go crazy with the Christmas decorations in our apartment. It’s the best. And hot cocoa alongside some candy canes is a must.
The THIRD is driving around to see Christmas lights!
I loved piling into our Ford Van as a kid to go see Christmas lights in my childhood neighborhoods. I was in awe every time. I booed at the houses that didn’t have lights (even when we didn’t have them up). Early on in my childhood, my dad would even reveal his Christmas lights on Thanksgiving night and sometimes we would hop in the car right after to go see other festive houses. The first December I had a drivers license, you better believe I was driving around to see Christmas lights with my friends. And, as you would expect, I still do this with my friends! I will probably go out to see lights at least a half dozen times this December and I make no apologies. So, get your lights up, Napa! I’m ready!
So, those are my top three favorite Christmas traditions. I would love to hear YOURS!
What are you favorite Christmas traditions?
Could you be any more perfect? You were everything I imagined and more. The rain in October made everything even brighter and more magnificent than I remembered it all to be from years past.
The flower shops bursting with color and fragrance. A divine bakery around every corner. A felt sense of history with every step I took. You awakened my senses and made every bit of my day to day feel so grand and exciting.
Getting lost in the Shakespeare and Company bookstore was a dream come true. That tiny shop seemed a thousand miles long while every book I picked up felt like an ocean of possibilities. I felt the shop’s invitation to stay a while as it stroked my curiosity and wonder as I rounded each new mountain of books before me. I didn’t like bookstores before you, Paris. But now I can’t get enough of them.
You hold the first art museum I ever went to. I was skeptical with modern art at first; but I fell in love with it all at the Musée d'Art Moderne. Halls and halls of eccentric pieces, overly simplified works, and shockingly obscure art all opened me up to a universe of art; and I can’t go back to the way life was before.
By far you are the most romantic place I’ve ever been. As the Eiffel Tower lit up the night sky, it dug out every romantic part of my soul and reminded me what love feels like. It’s left me craving that feeling ever since.
Your beautiful parks and gardens gave me a restful space from all of the stimulus of the streets. The fall air in the afternoon meshed with the greenery of the scene created a sanctuary for me. Those afternoons reading and writing times may have been the most at peace I’ve ever been.
A healthy diet of caffeine and pastries fulled my adventure and has since exposed the inadequacies of my regular coffee and pastries back in the states. In fact, everything felt, tasted, smelled, and looked better with you, Paris. Though you’ve heightened my expectations for life and made the rest of the world seem a little bit smaller in comparison to your grandeur, I guess a “thank you” is still long overdo. So, thank you for the memories and experience of you.
Ruined for all other places.
Jen is a pastor, worship leader, writer, and songwriter living in Napa, California.