Home for the Holidays with Rachel from Hello, Chelly!

A CELEBRATION OF THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR
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There are so many things I love about the holidays! The music, the food, the lights and decorations. There’s something magical in the air and I just can’t help getting swept away with all of it. But, for me, the holidays would be nearly as special if it wasn’t for the time spent with my family and friends. Some of my best memories are from holiday parties with my closest friends and family dinners that go late into the night. When I first read Rachel‘s post below, I was immediately filled with such a sense of familiarity, and although our traditions may not be the same, that feeling of love and happiness by spending time with those you love, is universal!

Hello friends! I am so thrilled to be a part of Sarah’s “Home for the Holidays” feature! Despite all my grumblings about the cold weather or commuting to work in the snow, December is actually my favorite time of the year and it’s all because of Christmas. I love shopping for the special people in my life, planning holiday dinners and most of all, the annual traditions.

I’m so lucky and grateful every single day that I grew up in a big family. Even though I’m an only child, my mom’s side of the family has always been close — literally and figuratively. My parents, aunts, uncles and cousins (18 people in total) all live within a 10 minute driving radius from my apartment and while I was growing up, from my parents’ house. Everyone was always coming over. My cousins were my constant playmates. It felt like I had multiple sets of parents. (Ok this part, not so fun as a kid!) But we saw how our parents were there for one another, and still continue to be, so it’s no surprise that those values rubbed off on my cousins and I.

2012 + 2013 (I couldn’t find a 2011 photo!)
Including myself, there are six of us cousins and by 2011, the youngest was 19 while the oldest was around 34 (if you were wondering, I’m in the middle!). We were old enough to start creating our own traditions and it all began with Secret Santa! For the last 7 years we’ve been using Elfster which is the best gift exchange site ever. I create a gift exchange every November (obviously, I’m in charge), add all of us plus everyone’s spouses in, and set rules so siblings and spouses never get one another. In fact once you set the rules, they get automatically get carried over each year which makes my life easier. Then we all create wishlists, which always makes me laugh because the most random things get added. (I also have to frequently remind certain people to add to the list. Yes, I’m like the Elfster police.)
2014 + 2016
Then a few years ago, we decided to expand on our tradition but choosing a theme for our Christmas get-together. For the first year, we did the classic Ugly Sweater Party and had our parents vote on whose was the ugliest (I lost). Last year we all dressed up in pajamas which made for a very comfy Christmas day. And this year we’re wearing plaid (I already have my shirt!).

It’s these little details and traditions I’ve created with the people I love that makes the holidays so special to me. As corny as this sounds, I hope my cousins and I will carry on this traditions for years to home and whenever the next generations arrives, they’ll want to do the same thing.

2015 – wanted to save the best for last!

 

I’d love to hear what some of your favorite holiday traditions are and thank you again Sarah for inviting me to share my story. Merry Christmas everyone!


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