By Emily Wells

These final three weeks of the semester have been jam packed with final assignments, tests, quizzes, papers, speeches, projects, end of the semester workouts, and, on top of all that, preparing for Christmas. For me, personally, the two weeks leading up to exams are the hardest I have faced in my academic career. My calendar has been filled with due dates and obligations that leave me no choice but to conquer them day by day.

With all this craziness, the one thing keeping me going through these few weeks has been the fact that Christmas break will be waiting for me. In light of this, I have decided to share a few of my—and my family’s—favorite Christmas traditions. Hopefully they will remind you of your own traditions, inspire you to create new ones, or, like me, motivate you to finish the year strong.

Each year, in lieu of Black Friday shopping, my dad, mom, sister, and I spend the day picking out a fresh Christmas tree and “decking the halls” of our house. This is something we have done for quite a few years and always look forward to. We search through multiple tree lots until we find the perfect one, and since we tend to be picky it can take a while. When we have found “the one” we celebrate by going to one of our favorite restaurants, The Creamery, in Wilson, N.C., to share a hot fudge cake, which is one of the best things I have ever tasted.

When the house is all decorated and the Christmas season is in full swing, the women in my family hold our annual Christmas sleepover. This includes all the women and girls on my maternal side of the family; the youngest member this year being five years old and the eldest being my grandmother. We spend the evening playing games, watching movies, and eating homemade Christmas snacks. Then, after everyone spreads out in an available corner of the house for the night, we eat breakfast together the next morning. It is a rare time when we all get to spend time together and it is a night full of laughter and memories.

My family has always held the true meaning of Christmas in highest regard when we celebrate Jesus’ birth. One of my favorite traditions is hearing three different readings of the Christmas story in the Gospels on Christmas Eve. First, my father reads the story out of his Bible at our home before we exchange gifts among my immediate family. I am blessed to spend Christmas Eve at both pairs of my grandparent’s house at different times in the evening. At one house, one of my cousins or aunt will read the story after we have eaten dinner. My Papa reads the story at the other house as we much on snacks and sip punch.

I am listening to Christmas music as I write this, and celebrating the fact that Christmas break is finally here. The last three weeks have flown by, but I cannot wait till I’ll be home for Christmas. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!