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Originally appeared on spirituality.com.
As a kid, one of my favorite holiday traditions was sharing a room with my big sister on Christmas Eve as we listened to my mom read the classic tale, “The Night Before Christmas.” We’d wake up the next morning and wait for my mom to report that presents had arrived under the tree. (Inevitably, she would start by joking there weren’t any!) Then our festivities would begin.
Eventually, my sister graduated from college and moved away to live on her own. Being eight years younger, I wasn’t ready to give up on all our Christmas activities yet. I wanted things to stay the way they’d always been.
Then, when I was a junior in college, my mom moved across the country and away from the extended family we’d always spent the holidays with. Suddenly, Christmas felt like a hassle. Just trying to get family to coordinate vacation time and travel schedules was difficult. My mom, my sister, and I were faced with the unwelcome choice of either not seeing each other or our extended family on Christmas at all, or waking up Christmas morning in a hotel room.