Happy Holidays from Kim Culbertson!

It’s official, Figs: the weather is getting frightful, the mistletoe has been hung, the lights are twinkling–the holidays are upon us! To celebrate, we’ve asked some of our favorite authors to share holiday memories with us. Tune in all through December to get in the holiday spirit!

Kim Culbertson is the author of Songs for a Teenage Nomad and Instructions for a Broken Heart. Her next project, an e-book novella, is due out in February. It’s called The Liberation of Max McTrue about decisively, contentedly average high school senior Max McTrue and the wild, weird day he spends with homeschooled Clara Jane Ramsey. Below, Kim shares a moving Christmas tradition.

Tradition can sneak up on you. I’ll admit, I’m not always the type to crave tradition. I love the idea of a Thanksgiving with pizza. I’m happy to open a gift weeks before Christmas. Not that I don’t adore the people in my family who insist on tradition: I can’t do without my mom’s fudge, and I love those Christmas lights that go up all over town the second the turkey carcass has been heaved into the garbage. I just don’t know if I need it. As much as I love the whole spirit of it, I’ve always had a bit of ADD when it came to the tradition part of the holidays. But in the last few Christmases, I’ve realized what a big nostalgic sap I am.

You see, my family has this Santa hat. This lame, 99 cent, bargain bin Santa hat we’ve had since I was a kid. Each year, whoever wore the Santa hat passed out presents. It was a serious competition piece for me and my sister. Who got to the hat first? Who got to wear the hat for the last present given out? Who could stash the hat in a certain packing box so she knew where the hat was the next year? In various holiday photos over the years, one of us can be spotted in the hat (often smirking). But then we grew up (debatable) and decided it just wasn’t that big of a deal anymore.

A few years ago, my daughter (four at the time) found the hat. She promptly put it on, grinning, and I listened to my mom tell her, “Now you get to pass out the presents.”

I burst into tears. There was my daughter, her tiny face peeking out from under that thin felt, awash in the glow of the tree. Waterworks. My mom didn’t say anything, just handed me some fudge. And I pulled it together (sort of). I blame the lighting, but that damn hat did something to her face; it went all Polar Express on me. I guess that’s what tradition is–sneaky and disguised as a 99 cent Santa hat.


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