Q&A: Anika Garter

I do a lot in order to celebrate Christmas, but I think most things are pretty common. The day before Christmas Eve I usually go to my mom’s parents’ house in Grand Haven. We spend the night, and on Christmas Eve, we have a big dinner and open stockings and gifts. My grandma on this side of the family gives us stockings which I think is unique. In reality, it is just a huge gift bag filled with traditional stocking stuff.

My family always likes to wake up at our house on Christmas morning. I’m usually the first one awake, and I go and wake everyone else up. First, we open stockings, and then gifts. Once we are done, we go to my dad’s parents’ house and celebrate. Throughout the whole season, though, I love watching Christmas movies—the best Christmas movie is Santa Clause—making cookies, and especially making gingerbread houses.

One tradition that I think might be different from the typical one is getting my Christmas tree. This sounds normal, but my family always gets huge Christmas trees. My dad and I get up super early the Saturday before Thanksgiving and drive an hour to our favorite Christmas tree farm. We have to get up so early and go before Thanksgiving in order to get the biggest tree available. This year our tree is 18 feet tall—I believe. It always takes a ton of work to get it inside the house. Last year, part of our door fell off, and there’s a huge mark in the floor and on the wall [from getting the tree inside]. 

My favorite memory of celebrating Christmas is probably the year when we did things completely differently. One year, my dad’s side of the family decided to celebrate Christmas together at our family cottage up north. I was really young, so I don’t remember a lot, but I do remember that we went into the forest on Christmas Eve and cut down our own tree. It was so small; it looked like a stick with some pine needles, but we still brought it back to the cottage. That night, I slept on the kitchen floor with my sister and cousins. We didn’t sleep much, though, because we were waiting for Santa to come. That’s all I really remember, but it is definitely one of my favorite memories. 

This holiday means a lot to me. Obviously, it’s a time to be with family and reconnect. However, I also think it’s a time to give and help out those who are less fortunate. My family always adopts families to buy Christmas gifts for, and this means a lot to me knowing I’m helping other families have a better Christmas. 

Honestly, I love everything about Christmas. If I had to pick one thing [that I loved most], it would probably be getting my Christmas tree and decorating it with my family. I love listening to Christmas music and going through all my ornaments and hanging them up. Every year my parents get me a new ornament relating to something significant I did that year. This way, when I put ornaments on the tree, I remember the past years and good memories. 

Of course, [Christmas] is my favorite holiday. I just love the Christmas season in general and all the memories associated with it. Throughout the whole year, I look forward to this time and the snow, lights, movies, Christmas trees, cookies, and quality time with family.

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