Christmas has always been my favorite holiday because of the magic that’s wrapped up in it. Sure, there’s Santa, Elf on the Shelf, and Christmas miracles, but the real magic is what happens when you’re surrounded by people you love, quietly enjoying the space you’re in together.
One thing I have and will always be grateful for is my family. For as long as I can remember, my parents have made the holidays really special, and it’s something that as I’m growing up and spending more time away from them for work or travel, I appreciate that much more.
Christmas in my family is a three-day commitment. On Christmas Eve we go to a candlelight service and sing carols – mostly seeing who can out-sing the other (my sister Micaela wins every year, lol). We then go home and each of my siblings and I are allowed to open one gift, usually a pair of matching or themed pajamas. After everyone else goes to bed, my brother Jacob and I follow our annual tradition since I was two years old: we sneak down the stairs with blankets and pillows and sleep right under the Christmas tree for the night in hopes of catching Santa in the act, which sadly, has yet to happen. Thinking I was “too old” to do it last year at 16, I went to bed in my own room but couldn’t go to sleep, so I woke Jacob up and we ended up watching Christmas movies all night and stuffing ourselves with the cookies my Mom left out for Santa until both of us finally fell asleep (which probably explains why we didn’t open presents until Noon on Christmas day).
Christmas morning is like every other holiday in our home, because my Dad makes sure everyone is filled to the absolute max with delicious food. My Mom makes Chile Egg Puff, a recipe she got from the mom of her high school friend, Julie Smith Miller. Mrs. Smith made Chile Egg Puff for every one of their dance team events and people always loved it! We have a handwritten card with the recipe on it (see below!) and it makes my heart happy to think that someday I’ll be making this for my family, along with the cinnamon rolls, fruit salad, and bacon sides that have since become our family tradition.
Then, things get quiet. We settle in for the next two days so all of us can just rest and recharge, making a conscious effort to put away our phones. We usually have a movie marathon the day after Christmas (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel movies…something fantastic!) and do nothing but lay around, talk, laugh, eat and rest in our pajamas for the entire day.
I think the reason I cherish these moments more now is because I realize how rare it is to have people who prioritize each other like this. The world gets busy, and we get busy with it. We run around all year in this race to accomplish things or make deadlines, and then December rolls in, with its twinkly lights and a chill in the air, to remind us that we deserve rest, love, stillness – and time away from technology.
I hope that each of you have traditions like this to come back to each year. If you don’t yet, I hope you love yourself enough to create some. Make new rituals for yourself! Pick an annual movie to watch or make a playlist of songs that make you feel loved. Try a new recipe (like our Chile Egg Puff above!) and make it every year. Give yourself rest, love, stillness. Whether you observe Christmas or not, you deserve a few days to celebrate how far you’ve come, no matter what that looks like. <3