Holiday Essays

Through the eyes of children

A Christmas Story

Madison Clark

By Madison Clark, 5th Grade, Mountain Brook Elementary

There’s nothing like Christmas, is there?
For as long as I can remember, my family’s gathered at my Aunt Linda’s house for a feast with things such as honey-roasted turkey and sweet potato casserole with big, fluffy marshmallows. When I walk in, the scent of warm apple cider tickles my nose. The house gets louder and louder as cousins, aunts and uncles arrive from out of town. The joy in the air can only happen at Christmas.

As I look around, I can’t help but smile at those who love me. Papa is my grandfather, and one of the best men I know. He’s survived two heart attacks and several heart surgeries, so when we listen to him pray after the Bible Story as he does every year, we know how lucky we are to have him.

My Mimi is a beautiful and elegant lady whose platinum hair shines in the glimmering lights. Seeing them sit side-by-side at Christmas makes me hope that one day I’ll have what they have, and be surrounded by children and grandchildren who love me.

Gathered in Aunt Linda’s living room, my family takes turns reading the Bible Story. Everyone chooses how and where they’ll read. A few years ago, my cousin Laura Lee read it while hula-hooping. The important part is to get the true meaning of Christmas. We pray for those with us and those celebrating Christmas in Heaven.

Next comes the really fun part, because that’s when we watch my mom’s favorite Christmas movie, A Christmas Story. Every time Ralphy asks for his Red Ryder BB gun, someone yells, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” You hear that a lot at my house at Christmas, particularly to my little sister who gets into everything and would more than likely shoot my eye out! It wouldn’t be Christmas unless we watched this movie twenty times. My mom and dad even sent my Uncle Ken one of those goofy leg lamps one year.

My favorite Christmas tradition is the Angel Tree. After everyone in my family picks an angel, we set aside a time to shop. We start with dinner at Johnny Rocket’s or somewhere cool like that and head to Target. We’re so excited knowing a child will wake up Christmas morning to all their wishes coming true. We shop for hours to choose the right gifts, load the car, and head to Starbucks to talk about how to wrap the gifts or what we think our “angels” will do or say when they see them.

Of all the beautiful Christmas lights, none compare to our Christmas Eve service at Mountain Brook Baptist Church. After Dr. Moebes finishes his sermon, the lights dim and everyone lights a candle while singing “Silent Night.” This is a memory I’ll always cherish, my family standing side-by-side by candlelight on Christmas Eve.

There is just nothing like Christmas!

What Hanukkah Means to Me

Leigh Lewis

By Leigh Lewis, 6th Grade, Brookwood Forest

Some people might ask, what does Hanukkah mean to us, but I think a better question is, what does Hanukkah mean to you. Hanukkah means something different for everyone. To me Hanukkah means family tradition. We have a family tradition, and it comes every year.

You see, Hanukkah doesn’t have to mean anything to you, but if you are Jewish it should. It is not just presents, food, and games. It is being with family, or giving, or family tradition. Hanukkah is the story of a war a long time ago. This is what happened: the Jews won with one thousand people, and the other people lost with fifty thousand people. It was a miracle, and I am glad they won because I am Jewish.

Every year, my whole family gets together to celebrate Hanukkah. When everyone gets to my cousins’ house, we hang out. We watch the television, and talk. After we are done socializing, the girls say the blessings over the lights. We keep the lights burning the whole night, and it is really cool. The candles are colored yellow, white, and blue. Those are Hanukkah colors.

We don’t get really excited until the parents call for dinner. I walk into the dining room, and the smell of salty, potato latkes enters my nose. The latkes have always been made by my grandfather,(which hopefully will never change), and white, foggy, latke smelling smoke is through the whole house by the time he is done.  Finally the amazing foods are inside of my stomach. After eating, I’m usually about as full as my dog after he eats a whole box of doughnuts!

At about the time I get done with dinner, my family is sitting around a large table to play dreidel. Dreidel is a traditional Hanukkah game played by kids all around the world. A dreidel,  is almost like a spinning top. On each of the four sides there is a Hebrew letter. When you spin the dreidel and it lands on a certain letter you can either win or lose the prize. In the center of this circular table there is a large pile of gelt. Some people just call it chocolate. When the game is over, I hope to have gelt, (but normally I don’t have any). When the game is over, it is time for our desserts.

On a platter there are always cookies, cakes, and pies. I get a piece of everything and eat it all, but then I have to lie down because I ate too much. I sneak downstairs to check out how many presents I have… a lot!

I have to be careful down there. My cousins and parents would get mad to know that I was checking out my surprises.  When I hear booming footsteps coming, I hear my heart pound. “Where do I hide,” I think to myself. It is too late.  There in the doorway is one of my cousins. He isn’t going to tell on me, but I decide to go on upstairs, so I don’t get into further trouble.

Finally, they notice I want to open presents, and all the kids race down the stairs. I sit in front of my pile, and everyone else does the same. Before the parents tell us to start, I rip open my biggest present.

Once the kids are done playing with their presents for the night, it is time to take pictures. It takes forever! There are pictures of just boys, and just girls. There are pictures of everyone, and just a few people at a time. There is never any point in this to me. Also it is just simply boring to keep taking pictures when you are ready to play another game of dreidel-this time with money!

After this, it is time to say our good-byes and wait until next year for our family tradition to come again.









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