With Thanksgiving over now, we are headed into the serious Christmas season. Not the "store" Christmas season, which starts in September or October, but the time of year where Christmas music plays on all the radio stations and everyone sings along. For me, there are even more holidays (and presents to buy) since half my family have December birthdays. The Christmas season, however, is one of my favorite times of the year, despite how busy it is.
It certainly is busy. First, school takes a lot of time. Despite my hopes, it hasn't gotten any easier as the year has gone on and I have a lot of homework every day. I don't think there's been a single day this year that I haven't had homework. For some reason, teachers seem to think we have lots of extra time when we have half days, or days off school. This means they give us extra work, which can be very difficult when I go on trips or have other plans. Also, ski season has recently started, so I have been skiing every day after school. This leaves very little time to buy lots of presents, put up Christmas decorations and even sing Christmas carols. Getting ready for Christmas itself takes up a lot of time for me, but I still find it amazingly fun.
The holidays, of course, really kick off with Thanksgiving. My family has a tradition of going to Grand Rapids to have a family dinner with my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. It's great to spend time together.
The day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday, which is a good time to buy Christmas presents, although I've never had the courage to go shopping early in the morning. Late afternoon there are some good deals, too, and far fewer overexcited shoppers.
A number of other Christmas traditions add to the holiday fun. Making, and of course eating, Christmas cookies is one thing we do throughout the season. Getting a Christmas tree is a big deal for my family, and we always get a real tree from a tree farm, and cover it with lights and ornaments. We have Christmas lights on the outside of our house as well, though nowhere near the amount of decorations some people put up. Christmas music playing on the radio, in stores and in my own house helps with the Christmas spirit. Of course, I can't forget Saint Nicholas Day when, following the Dutch tradition (my family is Dutch), my brother and I put out our wooden shoes out on Dec. 5, and find them filled with candy in the morning.
My favorite part of Christmas, though, has always been Christmas shopping. I love going to craft shows and stores in a search for the perfect gifts for all my family and friends. Of course, I have to find things I want, too. But unlike some people, Christmas for me is about the giving, not about what Santa will bring me or what I can convince my parents to buy. I love finding surprise presents, something that I know is just right for a specific person. Then when they open their presents, their surprise and happiness is a wonderful gift for me, too. I will always believe in the Christmas spirit of giving.
Editor's note: Maggie Guter, 16, is a junior at Marquette Senior High School. She is a long time member of 8-18 Media and is also involved in in sailing, skiing and piano. Her parents are Jake Guter and Mary Doll of Marquette. 8-18 Media is a youth journalism program of the Upper Peninsula Children's Museum. Through the program, teams of kids write news stories and commentaries on issues important to youth and about any good, or bad, things youth are up to. For more information call 906-226-7874, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org,