I absolutely love Christmastime. I am one of those people that gets super excited in October when stores put out Christmas stuff. Even mentioning Christmas around me gets me all excited and causes me to start skipping. For me, Christmas is not just the month of December, but should start when it is getting cold outside and go until February. There should also be a little celebration on June 25th and during the whole month of July.

I don’t mess around with Christmas. The Christmas season brings me joy because I know I will be spending time with friends and family and I love the feeling of expectation. (There are also all the amazing Hallmark Christmas Movies and Christmas sweaters…the cheesier the better!)

The original fairy ornament.

This year, though, I will be celebrating in a whole new country that I just moved to. This is only my second Christmas away from family. If I learned anything from the first one away, it was that there are some key traditions that help me feel it is Christmas. One of those is a very important ornament that goes on the tree.

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my mom and I have debated what should be the first ornament on the tree. She always thinks it should be the angel, and I think it should be the pink fairy ballerina. Long story short, my pink fairy ballerina ornament is always the first one on the tree, hung front and center for all to see. When I moved here, I didn’t want to bring that specific ornament with me because it belongs on the family tree and I was afraid I might lose it, so I bought a similar ornament for my tree here. After telling my roommates about this tradition, they made it happen and we had a whole little ceremony to hang it on the tree. This small act made me appreciate my roommates so much and also made it feel more like home and Christmas for me.

The new Christmas fairy.

Another tradition we have at my parents’ home is our stockings. They are always hung on the stair banister and my mom hand-made all of them. This year, while planning our roommate Christmas extravaganza, we decided that we should hang stockings and I immediately felt a tug at my heart for the stocking I grew up with. I decided to surprise my roommates with homemade stockings, which are still a work in progress even though we have technically celebrated Christmas already. This was a small way that I was able to have a little bit of the familiar while also starting new traditions with people here.

I know that over the years my Christmases will look different, but I always know I will keep a little bit of my childhood traditions with me. I will always be able to hang up my pink fairy ballerina ornament, look at a homemade stocking, watch all the Christmas movies, and wear my collection of Christmas sweaters. Christmas will remain a time of tradition, joy and expectation for me!

– By Madison Atkinson, OMS Hungary Team Member