Amazing Kids! Magazine

Jacob’s Holiday Tradition

By Ryan Traynor, Assistant Editor


Jacob sat at the dining room table with his brows furrowed in deep concentration. The sound of Elvis singing Jingle Bell Rock could be heard coming through the kitchen doorway as the clanging of the dishes marked the rhythm of his mother’s movements while she cleaned up the dinner dishes. Jacob did not let the noises distract him from his mission. He moved his attention down the page as his finger followed along, crossing over the bright pictures that accompanied the large lettering of Sale or Special, depending on which item was featured. The shuffle of the page as he turned it made a stream of air lift his bangs off his forehead. Another item caught his eye and he wrote frantically on the paper next to him – Nerf shooter, $14.99. Only when he had turned the last page did he move his full attention to the paper. There, before him, was his masterpiece. He decided to start earlier this year on his Christmas wish list for Santa because he knew last year he put his letter in the mail late and his presents were not everything he had expected. His Christmas tradition of writing a letter to Santa detailing what he wanted for Christmas would be more effective this year.  Beginning the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, he had taken the morning ads from the paper and religiously sat down over his list noting the perfect presents he wanted. Now, two weeks before Christmas, he knew he had many good options in the three pages of items he had put together. Reviewing the list once more he nodded his head one time and filed the list in the drawer for later. He realized he needed to now focus on his last assignment for school, so he pulled out his backpack and looked at his English assignment.

“What holiday traditions mean the most to you and why?” the teacher had typed at the top of the page. Jacob stared down at the Bold Tms Roman type on the page and seemed frozen in place. Staring at the page did not make his expression change, however.

Favorite Tradition? he questioned himself. He began to scribble some words across the page.

“My favorite holiday tradition is planning ahead for the presents I want for Christmas. I spend weeks sorting through the ads, trying to find the perfect presents that will make me happy for a long time.”

For some reason, as he reread the words, his stomach began to churn. A long time…he thought. Can I even remember the gifts I received last holiday season? How long did I play with them before they were piled on top of the toy shelf in the play room?

Jacob pulled his chair suddenly away from the table, creating a loud screeching noise as the legs scraped along the wooden floor. He glanced over at his mother with that “Sorry!” expression and darted off to the playroom. There, in the corner was a shelving unit with three tiers that held every type of toy imaginable. He stood in front of the pile.

Now which of these did I think were the most special, and why?

Standing in front of the mountain of toys he realized that it wasn’t the toy itself that created that warm feeling inside his chest. What was it then?

He made his way back to the table and stared at the essay prompt once again. Memories from prior holidays began to race through his mind. His reminisces weren’t of the fantastic toy with the blinking lights and cool gadgets, the way he thought they would be. His recollections were of kind looks and smiles from the people around him. Moments rushed back to him where hugs were shared and giving occurred – not in gifts, but in time and caring. When a gift came to mind, Jacob found that it was one he had personally crafted himself for someone. The extra time he put in to make it a unique gift told the person “I love you” with a token of something he molded to represent their relationship. He remembered making a necklace out of seashells he had found at the beach for his mother. Not only did the tears in his mother’s eyes show him it was something special for her, but the fact that she wore it for the next two months every day until only of a few of the seashells still hung onto the string told him that wearing it made her feel loved every day.

Okay, Jacob thought. It isn’t the presents I receive that matter. It is the presents I give.

Jacob erased his other answer and began to put this down on the paper. Still, his pencil stopped mid-word and he knew it was still wrong. It wasn’t the actual gift that mattered; it was that he had showed others how much they meant to him. By creating something special, they understood that their bond was special. It wasn’t the value, or the style of the gift. It was in the action of giving, with thought and care, that made it special and gave him that special feeling inside his heart. It was a symbol of love. He understood now why gift giving is a holiday tradition. Sometimes in everyone’s busy lives they just don’t tell people enough that they care for them. Christmas gift giving is a time that everyone can make a point to share with someone how much they mean to them.

Jacob set his pencil back down on the paper and began, “The holiday tradition that means the most to me is creating a special gift for loved ones to let them know how much I love them. I think about the important things about each person that makes them special and I try to make something that will put a smile on their face. As I carefully wrap my presents in the Sunday comics and place them under the tree, I can’t wait until they are opened Christmas morning so I can see the reaction…”

Finishing the last of the 500 words, Jacob felt he had captured the important meaning of his holiday tradition. Catching a whiff of the smell of the gingerbread men coming out of the oven, he remembered one of the traditions that his mother enjoyed. Running into the kitchen he saw she had laid out the icing and candies so they could make their own special gingerbread men.

Jacob bolted to his mom and threw his arms around her waist. She gasped in surprise as he hugged her longer and harder than he had in a long time.

“I love you, Mom!” he cried as he pulled back a little to look at her face.

There was that smile again – the one that told him that she knew she was loved. He decided to make a new tradition – one that would last all year long. His parents deserved at least one big hug a day. Resolved, he moved over to the kitchen table to pop a few M&Ms into his mouth before they began decorating their gingerbread men.