Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Annual Ride

The holiday season is in full swing. I came home from college to find my family’s Christmas tree up and decorated. Personally, Christmas is not my favorite holiday as I believe it is very commercialized. However, there are things I do love about the holiday season. I enjoy spending time with family. We take time to be grateful for each other's successes for the year. Growing up I assumed everyone celebrated the same way I did. However, I remember learning about my friend's white elephant Christmas gift exchange and how she received a pack of bacon flavored gum and other odd treats. This was a tradition her family had done for quite a while, but it my family does not have a tradition like this.

My family has a few Christmas traditions. We go to church on Christmas Day and my Nana and Papa’s - my grandparents- on Christmas Eve. Over these two days, we always go sledding with my aunts, uncles, grandpa, cousins, immediate family and of course the dogs. Every year there are often new sleds for our Christmas slide, but my Grandpa always grabs his wooden toboggan and makes his way to the hill.  Now, this is a joyous time of running up the hill, laughing and jumping out of the way of the incoming sled. We pile five or more on to my grandpa’s toboggan and whoosh down the hill. At the end of our time on the hill, we all take one last ride on the toboggan before returning home. This is my family’s special holiday tradition. No matter the lack of snow or how full we are; we are there together on the hill. This is one of my favorite things over the years.

However, two years ago my Nana and Papa thought it would be fun to have the holiday in Florida.
I am one who loves knee-deep snow, but I realized I was going to have find my pair of flip-flops and venture down south.
On Christmas Eve, I imagined what it would be like to be sliding down the hill with my family. I looked around me and my family was around, but instead of sledding that year, we went shell collecting on the beach (not a bad trade). I realized that year that it's not because of the snow or the sledding that I love Christmas Eve, but rather the time making memories with others is what matters. It was the time dedicated to people who mean the most to me. The people are what makes experiences notable.

I will always treasure the memories made on the hill. Traditions may change sleds to beach chairs, but the true meaning still stands. You are surrounded by the ones who matter the most whether that’s family, friends, church groups or your FFA chapter. Dedicating our time to be with those who matter dearest is what is important about traditions. I challenge us to spend the holiday break with those who matter most. If they are states away, call or send a message letting them know how grateful you are for them. Make the most of your time with those whom you love. Start new traditions like running 5k’s, ringing bells for the Salvation Army or baking with your Nana. I want to know what traditions you have and why they are important to you.

Stationed by the Flag,
Lauralee Eaton

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