Being with family is what matters most

Published 8:38 pm Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas is my favorite time of year.

The weather is cool, it is a time of giving and everything just feels festive with the lights on houses and Christmas music playing over the airwaves.

My favorite part is family coming together though. For most of my life Christmas has been spent with my dad’s family. My mom, dad, sister and me were usually joined by my dad’s dad, my dad’s mom, my dad’s sister and my cousin.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

We would rotate from house to house even as my family moved from Florida to Georgia to Florida to Louisiana to Georgia to Florida (we’ve moved around in a glorified circle).

As the years went by, Christmas traditions that my family continues to hold dear were developed. The night before Christmas my mom, dad, sister and me gather together to read The Polar Express (long before it was a movie) and The Night Before Christmas with my sister and me each reading one of the books.

She is 27 now and I am 25, but this Christmas Eve the four of us will gather once again before the first person (usually dad) goes to bed and read these books we have heard countless times.

Then in the morning, the first gift of Christmas in our household was always an ornament left at the foot of our bed, which we would rip open before heading to the living room to see all the presents that had appeared under the tree over night (presents never go out early, but now my sister and me help put them out).

Christmas then starts with the opening of the stockings, followed by breakfast before we move onto gifts.

Spending Christmas with my sister and cousin each year, the three of us would go in a circle opening one gift at a time (leaving the big ones for last). There was supposed to be a system where the same person didn’t start each year and it usually fell on my cousin to pretend she remembered whose turn it was (she is the oldest after all).

Then it was time for the adults to open their presents before we all cleaned up and played the board game(s) we get for Christmas throughout the afternoon.

Over the years, many of the traditions have stayed, but as we’ve aged they have grown and changed.

Meme (my dad’s mom) passed away a few years ago, but we also gained new family members as my cousin got married and now has an adorable 2-year-old son.

My cousin and aunt also moved to Georgia and spend some holidays with my cousin-in-law’s family. That is ok though.

We have created new traditions like mini Christmas with them in the weeks before, which we are in year three of and the circle of giving where we pick a present category and draw names on who you buy it for.

The traditions may change some, but being together with family is what matters and we will still read the books, open the stockings first and play board games through the afternoon.

Brandon O’Connor is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at