What will I really want for Christmas this year?

I love Christmas and opening presents.  I am the kid at Christmas that savors each and every present by opening it up very slowly so I can enjoy its glorious moment.  Of course, making and baking Christmas cookies are da’ bomb!  And being with friends and family is what warms my heart.  But there is one family tradition that I hold as my special all-time favorite!  It is the uniqueness of traditions that gives me such joy.  Traditions in everyone’s family comes in all shapes and sizes.  Here are a few family traditions that are popular around the holidays: family trimming the tree together, annual family ornaments, baking cookies with the kids, holiday pictures, a cultural tradition, midnight mass, Xmas eve take-out food, and Christmas movies.  Then there is the eating, eating, and more eating. I read that internationally, in India Christians celebrate with a banana tree instead of a fir or pine tree.  In Japan, they eat Kentucky Fried Chicken. So in Japan, Christmas equals KFC.

So what will I really want for Christmas this year?  Hint, it is my favorite holiday tradition. Drum roll please… it’s the Christmas light tours!  Applause, applause!  Our tour includes jumping in the truck and driving around town.  It’s my absolute favorite family tradition to drive around in and out of the neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights.  It is a very low key and relaxing tradition.  I really enjoy the light shows some of the houses offer.   There are homes that invest tons of time, money, and effort to create a light show extravaganza.  Of course over the years, we take touring Christmas lights up another cozy notch to fully have the ultimate experience.  First, we get hot chocolate and coffee.  Maybe even some snacks.  We are dressed in either PJs or sweats and wrap ourselves in Christmas blankets.  Mom and I debate with our dad and try to convince him about whether or not we bring the dogs with us.  We drive around all snuggled together in the front seat at night while listening to Christmas music on the radio.  If we are really ambitious, we use websites or the Christmas light finder apps to locate even more spectacular light displays that will keep us driving for hours.

 

The Christmas light tour is very special to me for another reason.  You see, when I was battling brain cancer, I spent a lot of time in the hospital.  If I wasn’t in the hospital, I was confined to being at home because of my immune system being so suppressed.  Basically, I couldn’t be around anyone because I could easily get sick.

 

Many of us kiddos missed out on traditional holiday experiences. I missed dressing up going trick or treating for Halloween.  I missed out on Thanksgiving because the smell of food made me sick during my chemotherapy.  I missed out on Christmas shopping.   I missed out on Christmas celebrations with other people.  I missed the classroom Christmas party at school.  I missed out on what felt like everything.  But what I did not miss out on was seeing the winter wonderland of Christmas lights on the outside of people’s houses.  Seeing all the endless supply of outdoor Christmas lights felt like it was a holiday vacation coupled with a Christmas party inside our truck.  Mom and I would wrap ourselves in Christmas blankets.  We sipped our hot chocolate (me) and coffee (mom and dad). We brought snacks of foods that my tummy was tolerating to eat.  We listen to Christmas music on the radio and sometimes would sing along even if we sang off key.  We enjoyed taking a drive and finding holiday cheer on display outside of people’s houses.  I didn’t have to worry about my immune system being compromised because it was just the three of us and the dogs inside the truck.  It was so special and fun.  This tradition is cancer proof. I look forward each year to my Christmas light tours.

 

I say, hold on tightly to what makes your special family tradition yours and only yours.  Enjoy the history and the moments of the holidays, even the ups and downs.

By the way, my dogs joined us once again on our Christmas lights tour.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

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Jessica is a 14-year-old pediatric brain cancer survivor who advocates to end pediatric cancer with a goal to educate and inspire others. Jessica is on a mission to support organizations that help children fight cancer and raise funding to find the cure. Jessica is an ambassador for Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Make-A-Wish Middle TN, and Rally for Kids. Jessica is also the 2015-2016 Tennessee Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Champion Ambassador. Through Jessica's ambassadorship she has been featured in many national fund raising campaigns such as the "Put Your Money Where the Miracles Are," "Band Together," and as Cancer Crusher, an 18-episode Superhero-themed national PSA all for the CMNH organization. Jessica has even recently been featured with other cancer patients in the "Teen Cancer America" campaign with The Band Perry.

Jessica has a passion for public speaking. She is a showcased public speaker at many fundraising events. Recently Jessica was the closing plenary speaker for the American Academy of Pediatrics Hospital Medicine's annual convention in Chicago. Jessica has even received an opportunity to take her message to Washington DC with the CMNH Champion's Media Tour where she met with Senators and the Secretary of Health & Human Services.

Along with Jessica's love of public speaking she has also had her story featured in Hope Magazine, Look Book, and Nashville Lifestyles. Jessica has written for blogs and magazine articles for CMNH, Extra Life, and Make-A-Wish. Jessica is a skilled interviewer and continues to do on camera interviews of celebrities and donors for the organizations Jessica is involved with. Recently Jessica has been traveling as a cast member with the My 2nd Act Survivor Stories from the Stage.

About The Author

Jessica is a 14-year-old pediatric brain cancer survivor who advocates to end pediatric cancer with a goal to educate and inspire others. Jessica is on a mission to support organizations that help children fight cancer and raise funding to find the cure. Jessica is an ambassador for Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Make-A-Wish Middle TN, and Rally for Kids. Jessica is also the 2015-2016 Tennessee Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Champion Ambassador. Through Jessica's ambassadorship she has been featured in many national fund raising campaigns such as the "Put Your Money Where the Miracles Are," "Band Together," and as Cancer Crusher, an 18-episode Superhero-themed national PSA all for the CMNH organization. Jessica has even recently been featured with other cancer patients in the "Teen Cancer America" campaign with The Band Perry. Jessica has a passion for public speaking. She is a showcased public speaker at many fundraising events. Recently Jessica was the closing plenary speaker for the American Academy of Pediatrics Hospital Medicine's annual convention in Chicago. Jessica has even received an opportunity to take her message to Washington DC with the CMNH Champion's Media Tour where she met with Senators and the Secretary of Health & Human Services. Along with Jessica's love of public speaking she has also had her story featured in Hope Magazine, Look Book, and Nashville Lifestyles. Jessica has written for blogs and magazine articles for CMNH, Extra Life, and Make-A-Wish. Jessica is a skilled interviewer and continues to do on camera interviews of celebrities and donors for the organizations Jessica is involved with. Recently Jessica has been traveling as a cast member with the My 2nd Act Survivor Stories from the Stage.

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