Junk Drawer: Favorite Christmas Traditions

Alex: Christmas Movies

Even though there are so many movies released every month, I would have to say that Christmas movies are some of the best ones around. Just about every Christmas season, I try to watch at least a couple of Christmas movies either by myself or with family and friends. Some of my favorite Christmas movies that I like to watch include “A Christmas Story”, “Love Actually”, “Home Alone”, “Christmas Vacation” and “Die Hard”. Besides loving to watch some of the most outrageous situations occur during such a crazy holiday, watching these types of movies allows me to connect with some of my family and friends in different ways. While some people might not consider this a tradition, this is one of the few things that my family and I still like to do every year on Christmas.

Ben: Christmas Music

I love listening to Christmas music—just as long as it’s after Thanksgiving. I’m the kind of person who needs to have background music playing while I’m writing or doing homework, and usually I enjoy having Coldplay or Fleet Foxes on for ambience. But during December, Christmas music just adds a whole new element. (The one exception that I could probably do without hearing Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas Is You” over the radio for the rest of my life.) The spirit of the music lifts my mood and makes even writing a 15-page paper seem like a “Joy to the World.” … Well, maybe “Joy” is the wrong word there, but you know what I mean.

Rebecca: Tree Decoration

Christmas time is full of different traditions. One of those for me is trimming the tree, decorating the tree with ornaments at my grandma and grandpa’s house. I love seeing all the old ornaments and hearing the stories my grandma has to tell about them. We have three special ornaments we put on each year. My favorite of those is the small birds that we clip on scattered about the tree including a Cardinal, which makes me think of our family members who couldn’t be there. We also put candles on the tree, although they haven’t been lit in what could very well be decades. Before, there were also string lights that were used to light the tree with a bucket of water nearby for the spare chance the tree caught on fire. The weirdest one would probably be the cookies we put on the tree. Each shape has its own story behind it. I’ll admit, however, I’ve forgotten almost all of them.

Sam: Die Hard

Recently my family has started watching “Die Hard” on Christmas Eve. This all started when I was arguing “Die Hard” was the best Christmas movie and making my sister watch the movie. Turns out my whole family loved it and when I go home this year I will be bringing my copy of “Die Hard” for our traditional viewing. “Die Hard” provides me with the adrenaline rush and fun that I want during the Christmas season. It’s action-packed, but still has moments of heart and humor to round out a personal favorite movie of mine.

Eduardo: Venezuelan Food

Christmas in Venezuela is very unique. A couple of days before Christmas day, the whole family gathers to cook traditional, Venezuelan Christmas food such as “hallacas” and “pan de jamon.” “Hallacas” look very similar to Mexican tamales, except that they are sweet, and are filled with pork, beef, eggs, raisins, and olives. “Pan de jamon” on the other hand, is a very long bread filled with ham, raisins and olives. What I find so special about this tradition is that it brings the whole family together and everybody gets to help making this food. Children usually help move ingredients around, teenagers help shape the “hallacas,” and adults do the actual cooking (and the drinking). On Christmas Eve, the whole family gathers at night to eat all this delicious food that was made in anticipation while listening to “gaitas,” or traditional Christmas music from Venezuela.

Heidi: Gift Exchange

Every Christmas Eve, my family has a gift exchange. Only the adults participate, because most of the time the gifts are alcoholic in nature. The rules change pretty much every year, depending on who is explaining them, but it’s similar to a white elephant gift exchange. First, the participants receive a number. Because I am the second youngest in the family, and the youngest cousin can’t write yet, I usually have the honor of passing out the numbers. All of the presents are placed in the middle of the room, and the person with the number one gets to pick a gift first. Upon shaking the gifts and seeing how much they weigh, as one must do, they choose a gift, and the next person gets to go. Gifts are able to be stolen twice, but after that the person with that gift gets to keep it, which makes the exchange cutthroat. Some people are much better at choosing gifts everyone wants; others try really hard. I have yet to participate in this exchange, but it is really fun to watch, especially when people fight over a gift.

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