This week, I was going to talk about finals and give you guys some of my best tips on how to master them. I was going to say that it’s better to study a little every day instead of cramming, to organize your notes into main ideas, to highlight main concepts, to give your brain a break every once in a while, to read to yourself aloud so you can both see and hear the information…
But then we had two snow days. And I’ve been Christmas shopping and watching movies and thinking about sledding. And, honestly, I’m sick of school by now. So instead of thinking about how I should be studying, I am going to ask you about your holiday traditions. In my family, we don’t have very many traditions. We celebrate Christmas, but because my parents are divorced, we trade off Christmas Eve and Christmas between the two of them. Every other year we are in a different place, and we haven’t established many traditions ourselves.
We do have one tradition that is fairly regular each year. The weekend after Christmas, usually around New Year’s Eve, my brothers, mom, stepdad and I drive up to the far edge of Iowa to visit my mother’s side of the family. We stay at my grandparents’ farmhouse once we arrive (after eight long hours in the car) and my aunts, uncles and cousins arrive the next day. My grandparents live near a tiny town in western Iowa; the town consists of a hardware store, a Casey’s gas station, and a local restaurant.
Needless to say, there isn’t much to do there but visit with family. When I was little, my cousins and I would play while the grown-ups talked about how their lives had been for the past year. We’d sneak into the huge upstairs coat closet and play school or house. With several older cousins, I always had to be the baby or student; I remember being given stickers for completing fabricated homework sheets. I also remember stomping into the living room because I was tired of those homework sheets. Once, I was allowed to play truth or dare with my older girl cousins. While I felt accepted and important for being permitted to participate, my five-year-old life wasn’t romantic enough to provide much interest.
Although we are older now, our traditions are still about spending time together. We eat a Christmas dinner together and open presents, like most people do. Instead of buying gifts for everyone (and becoming very broke) we have a gift exchange. Typically, this includes a game involving choosing presents and stealing them from each other. We also play card games together. Or, I watch everyone play card games, keeping a close eye on my grandpa (a major cheater). My attention span is not long enough to last through a game of cards, but I still like to be with everyone.
Even though I have a few traditions for the holidays, we are always with family. I am grateful that I have people to go home to and be with for Christmas; not everyone has that luxury. Making special traditions is something I look forward to doing with my future family. Do you have any favorite traditions in your family?