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Every family has traditions that signal the beginning of the holiday season. From building gingerbread houses to picking a Christmas tree, everyone has a different idea of what is the biggest indicator of the holiday season. For me, I can say for certain that this is not just one thing, but a conjunction of many different events that lead to this feeling.

Ella Thomas

One of the biggest indicators of the coming of Christmas time is decorating. Decorating for Christmas is a task that requires at least a full day of devotion to the single goal of transforming your house into a winter wonderland. And it absolutely cannot be done without the help of a playlist of Christmas music to blare on full volume throughout the house (to get into the Christmas season, of course). Although the decorations vary from year to year based on the latest trends, there are many aspects that remain the same throughout the years. One of these is the Christmas trees. Most years, we have three large trees, each with a specific theme. For example, the first is a travel tree. Throughout the year, anywhere we travel- whether it’s together or separate, near or far- we pick up an ornament.

By the time Christmas comes, we have a tree full of ornaments that are reminiscent of all of our past adventures, and many new ornaments that signify all of our recent journeys. The second Christmas tree is one that contains all of our crazy ornaments for the past 17 years (at least). This tree is my favorite because there is no rhyme or reason, and no rules. We always use a fake tree for this one, with many mismatched colored light strings (since the lights attached to the tree went out years ago). This tree contains everything from the dog treat ornament I made in preschool, to the cheeseburger ornament that my brother and I “just had to have,” to ornaments commemorating all of the sports that I have unsuccessfully attempted in the past (which is quite a few). The final tree is huge and beautifully dec-orated each year in correlation with the style of the season. This tree is always a spectacle and often comes to mind when I imagine on the beautiful side of the season. I know that my favorite time of the year is near when it both looks and smells like a winter wonderland (even if Georgia weather doesn’t always get the memo).

Another way that I know that the holiday season is near is by the number of baked goods strewn throughout the kitchen. I have no idea what it is about the holidays that makes me want to go crazy in the kitchen, but I’m not one to complain about it. One item, in particular, is lemon thumbprint cookies. These tiny little lemon joys have become a definitive mark of Christmas in my house. This reputation is due to the fact that they are “Santa’s favorite,” which also happens to be my Dad’s favorite (wink wink). Also, frosted sugar cookies are never a rare sight around the holiday season. Sometimes I’ll bake up to 90 at a time (somewhat accidentally), and we will all wake up the next morning to decorate them in a “creative” fashion. Although all of these cookies are impossible to eat, they have become a Christmas classic nonetheless. What seems almost like a chore most other days of the year suddenly becomes a carefree way to pass the time (that yields a delicious result).

Also, watching Christmas movies is always an important way to kick off the season. There are many old favorites that are absolutely vital to watch every year (such as A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and the Polar Express), but there is one that stands out among all others as the greatest Christmas movie of all time- Elf. This complex yet simple cinematic masterpiece is the ultimate way to get into the Christmas spirit. Sure to leave you crying from a combination of laughter and joy, Elf is the decisive mark of the Christmas season in my family.

No matter what it is, that gives you the feeling of the holidays or fills you with the spirit of Christmas, enjoy that feeling this holiday season. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Ella Thomas is a sophomore at Brookwood High School.