Several hours and dollars later, I finally bought and setup my Christmas tree. It’s even bigger than Sindy-size this year! There’s a part of me that regrets encouraging the whole idea of cutting down trees for the season, but I do love having a real tree. Growing up, for whatever reason, we always had an artificial tree that we would take out of the garage or basement every year and decorate. Looking back, it was actually quite a pitiful plastic tree even in it’s prime– I’m not even sure it stood more than five feet high and it was probably purchased in the mid-70’s– and by the time high school rolled around, we didn’t even bother putting it up anymore. Participating in all the holiday traditions– holiday decorations, gift giving, etc.– is almost kind of a novelty to me. We certainly celebrated Christmas in our family, but by the time I got to high school, the need to follow all those traditions faded away. Like I said, we didn’t put up a tree and we usually didn’t even exchange gifts– there wasn’t a lot of extra money in the first place, so when we bought things, it was usually out of necessity. And while many kids in the same situation ended up getting very practical gifts– clothes, socks, etc.– we didn’t even do that. For my family, the logic was, “if you need a new coat today and we have the money, we’ll buy a new coat,” not “we’ll buy you one for your birthday” or “we’ll buy you one for Christmas.” Don’t get me wrong– it’s not like my parents didn’t celebrate those occasions, but they were usually celebrated by going out to dinner. And on Christmas, we would usually go to church for Christmas Eve or Christmas morning service and if everyone was up to it– sometimes people had to work or just couldn’t put in the effort– we would get together with family and have a huge meal (Korean food, of course) together. As we got even older, even the latter stopped and we usually ended up eating lunch at one of the Korean restaurants near our church (which, of course, would be open) and calling it a day. My point is that, in the end, Christmas was more about the opportunity to get together with each other at least once a year– when I lived at home and was younger, it was about getting together with family members. Although we lived within a short drive of each other at first and then later, only two hours away, we rarely ever had everyone together under the same roof. And now, it’s one of the few times that even the four of us in my immediate family are under one roof, with me living in California, my parents in New York, and my brother in… whatever city he happens to be living in this year. Of course, I’m not saying that we’re somehow above presents and that it’s a big ol’ love fest– most of the time is passed running errands, watching TV, catching up on sleep, and sharing meals. But, instead of giving gifts or putting up trees or sharing mushy sentiments, for us, Christmas is about slowing down for a moment, coming together, and stepping back into the ordinary motions of our old life under one roof again.