Now that Halloween has passed, I feel like the holiday season has officially begun, and it’s one of my favorite times of year. There are some wonderful, joyful things about the last couple months of the year, and I’m excited to experience all the magic.
I think most people agree that the holidays bring some pretty excellent food. Most people think about perfectly cooked turkeys, stuffing and fluffy mashed potatoes.
But my favorite is desserts. I have a huge sweet tooth and there are desserts I always look forward to.
Thanksgiving typically means multiple kinds of pies at my family get-togethers. You hear a lot of “I’ll just have a small slice of both.”
My mom often makes candies like peanut clusters and almond bark pretzels. Sometimes she only makes them because she knows I want her to. I probably eat more sugar in the week leading up to Christmas than any other time.
When I was in college, my dorm’s dining hall hosted a special dinner with local suppliers and some fantastic food. All the food was great, but I usually made a beeline for the dessert tables. Yes, tables, plural. The dining hall staff made several tables of candies, cookies and other sweets for the holiday meal, and for that one night, that made up at least 75 percent of my meal.
The Christmas season might become one of the more expensive ones for me, but I still love picking out presents for my family. My parents are both excellent gift buyers and they’ve set a pretty high bar for me.
Every year I buy a gift for each of my parents and my younger brother. I do my best to pick out one specific gift that is especially catered to their individual interests.
My mom loves owls, so some sort of decorative owl or anything with an owl print is a good bet for her. She also collects cookbooks and loves to get new ones.
My dad gets lots of merchandise for his favorite sports teams, the Huskers and the Royals, and stuff related to his favorite TV show, “The Walking Dead.”
I love putting the thought into finding something that will make them smile because I picked it out just for them.
Another little tradition I have around this time of year comes after I’ve done my shopping. When it comes time wrap those gifts, I have to do it while watching some sort of Christmas special. I do this while I put up my tree as well.
Putting on an old cheesy claymation movie (My favorite is “The Year Without A Santa Claus) or a Christmas episode of “Glee” helps me get in the spirit.
All of that other stuff is a lot of fun, but the thing that makes the holiday season the most special to me is all the memorable time I get to spend with my family.
On both Thanksgiving and Christmas, I get to spend time with extended family I don’t get to see nearly as much as I like.
Thanksgiving always means a big family meal with one side or the other. If it’s with my cousins on my mom’s side, the afternoon will probably end with us playing some silly game like Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity.
My mom’s twin sister has five kids, and our families have always spent a lot of time together. My brother and I have grown up with those cousins and we all have so much fun together. When we were little, we saw each other every couple months, but it’s become harder and harder as we’ve grown up. Getting the time with this extended family makes the holidays even more special.
Christmas Eve sees us back with the same cousins, probably playing another stupid game, exchanging gifts and cracking more jokes.
On Christmas Day, my immediate family sleeps in, opens presents and has lunch in our pajamas before going to my grandparents’ house for supper. We never are quite ready for the day to end when we get home.
The thing most of this has in common is the tradition. To me, this time of year means something familiar, homey and time-honored that I can look forward to for months ahead of time.