“What were your favorite Christmas traditions as a kid?”


Hannah Heaston (12):

“‘Polar Express’ was my favorite movie,” Hannah Heaston (12) said. “And my favorite tradition would be when me and my brother were kids, we would bake cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve [and] we would open one present.”

Heaston celebrated a cookie-cutter Christmas as a kid. She would rush to the cookie platter on Christmas morning in hopes of finding an empty plate. Heaston was a firm believer in Santa Claus until she came about the age where it all gets spoiled. Yet, it left an opportunity to appreciate other things during Christmas.

“I can now focus on the worship part because some people forget that it’s also Jesus’ birthday,” Heaston said.

Heaston has taken comfort in the religious spirit of the holiday to replace the old times. Now, during every early winter, the nostalgia of sweet cookie dough and childish zeal follows her. She misses the things that made Christmas special. 

“It’s sad knowing that one little white lie can change [so much] for a person,” Heaston said. “We don’t even put up Christmas decorations or bake cookies anymore. Even presents now are just money or gift cards.”


Justice Clark (12):

“I’m gonna be honest with you, my family does not have that many Christmas traditions,” Justice Clark (12) said. “But me and my mom would always watch the Santa Claus movies, one, two and three.”

Clark always was a movie-lover. He and his family carry the holiday spirit through the years with old family movies like “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” which still makes the kid in everyone smile. 

“You can really bond over any type of movie,” Clark said. “It just matters which one you end up watching.”

Clark is also one to realize the sentimental value in things. It could be any childhood favorite  and his family would still be sitting on the couch, laughing together. 

“I’m not gonna say the idea of gifts excited me that much [as a kid], but it was more playing and having fun with everybody instead,” Clark said. “It has become less and less about the gifts and more about spending time with people.”


Harrison Browndyke (11):

“[The best part about Christmas is] getting to see all my family together at my grandparents’ house opening presents and all that,” Harrison Browndyke (11) said.

Alongside the classic excitements, Browndyke always looks forward to watching “Elf,” a Christmas staple. He looks to be reminded of the Christmas spirit in movies like “Elf” and the little kids around him who still believe in magic. 

“You get to see [the younger generation] get excited for Christmas and you are just trying not to spoil it for them,” Browndyke said.

Seeing excited kids running around the crowded house on Christmas day sparks something in everyone including Browndyke. Telling them these stories about Santa Claus and seeing the light in their eyes rekindles the spirit once thought to be lost.

“When you are a kid, you believe in Santa and all that, so I feel like you just need more of an imagination for the spirit [of Christmas],” Browndyke said. “As you get older, you start to realize that Santa is not real, but you still have that Christmas feeling ingrained in you. It is still something you get excited for.”


Shivam Aarya (12):

“Favorite Christmas memory … that’s gonna be the time when I learned about Christmas itself,” Shivam Aarya (12) said. “I was in the second grade and on the day before Christmas break, they took us in the auditorium and gave everyone sleeping bags. And then we laid down in this huge auditorium. And on the screen, they played ‘The Polar Express.’ And they dimmed the lights and everything so it was really atmospheric … and then they gave us hot chocolate, which was the first time I ever had hot chocolate with marshmallows in it. Ever since then I’ve wanted to celebrate Christmas and get that same vibe.”

Aarya comes from a home of mostly Hindu tradition. When he was first introduced to Christmas, he became infatuated with it. He and his sister begged their parents to start celebrating Christmas until they finally bought a tree when he was 14. 

“We used to never do presents, because we never did Christmas,” Aarya said. “But when we started Christmas, the presents were definitely the best part of the entire experience.“

He relished in the Christmas magic that he so dreamed for, while he could. Now, after a few years, Aarya has drifted away from that sentiment. But, of course it still comes around when the holiday bells toll. 

“These days I kind of just do school work all Christmas break, but if there’s a day when I don’t have work, then, yeah, I’ll sit down with my parents and watch ‘The Polar Express,’” Aarya said.