by Abby Kaija, WUHS 10th Grade
(This is student work submitted as part of the Youth Voices collaborative project.)
Months after becoming an eight year old, my family and I ventured to Costa Rica for holiday vacation. We spent our days building a school for the community of Monte Verde. The experience was unforgettable. For Christmas Eve, we slept in a hotel, and celebrated my brother’s birthday. Upon waking up early to the Costa Rican sun, my siblings and I found a present for each of us. We all understood that the trip was a Christmas present in itself, but on Christmas day watching the younger Costa Rican kids appreciate what little they had opened our eyes to the joy of a much less materialistic Christmas.
Four years later, six of us caravanned down to Texas where my sister was an SCA intern at Big Bend National Park; the trip was enervating, but worth every moment. After arriving on Christmas, Gretchen gave us a small tour of the town in Big Bend, and at the final stop, her trailer, we found stockings nailed into her flimsy wall. That night was full of gifts and nostalgic flashbacks. The Christmas was one that we all would remember, mostly because we were seven Vermonters in a Texan desert.
Many of my Christmases have been spent in Ware, Massachusetts at my grandparents’ house. It became quite a tradition. The house was always warm and the snow always shoveled oh-so perfectly, with a Christmas tree decorated straight out of a “Better Homes” magazine. In Ware we always celebrated Oliver’s birthday with a Christmas Eve dinner with a ham that Grampy so lovingly lathered in honey mustard. The arrival of the fateful morning brought all of the kids running down the carpeted stairs filled with anticipation. The room was piled high with presents, the tissue paper up to my nose, and stockings scattered on the floor. But on those Christmases, the moment I remember most was the room erupting in laughter at the Bug Bunny Movie. With cousins hanging off the couch, parents leaning against the walls, and more kids sprawling upon the floor, it is a tradition not to be forgotten.
Of all the Christmases I’ve had away from home I have learned something I will never let slip from memory; Christmases at home may be comforting, and Christmases away may be adventurous, but no matter where you go, home is always with you. A home is not a building or a town; it is your family- the ones you love and share memories with, the ones you laugh and cry with, and most of all the ones you spend the holidays with.
(This story was first published in the December 12, 2013 edition of the Vermont Standard.)
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