Out of all the things in this world, there is something unexpected that makes me feel warm inside. One simple thing that reminds me to be strong when I am weak. An object I have never owned that makes me feel at home when I am miles away. And even though it seems strange, that object is a light-up plastic Santa, snowman, candle, or for that matter any other winter-themed shape that commercial America has molded and made shine bright. This is certainly a lot to be tied to simple lawn ornaments, but they are so much more than plastic.
As long as I can remember, during the rush of the holiday season, when time slips by faster than cars on a moonlit highway, my parents force my two brothers and I to stop whatever we are doing for one night. For one night, they shove us into the family car and drive us around to neighborhoods. This way we can all wander past houses owned by people we have never met and gape at their Christmas decorations. Therefore, to keep ourselves entertained, we have a contest. It’s simple enough. Whoever counts the most plastic, light-up, seasonal lawn ornaments wins the prize of a year’s bragging rights. And so, as the year draws to an end, we pack into the family car and go out in search of Christmas lights.
It has only been in recent years that as our family drifts apart our traditional cars rides have become less common. I’m the youngest of three, already a sophomore in high school, and afraid I’m helpless to stopping this drift, but time does speed by. Now there are two dark, empty bedrooms in the house and two open chairs at the dinner table, yet I have not given up hope. Every time I see one of those tacky lawn ornaments outside of my car window, I smile and think of my brothers. I wonder when they will be home again. I wonder when I will see their bright, smiling faces instead of this jest of a smile on a plastic mold. I feel comfort in knowing I will always keep our fond childhood memories close to my heart as long as there are plastic, light-up Santas. After all, every family must eventually separate to different houses, but it is the memories and the traditions that will light the path for our hearts to find their way back to the ones we love. Back to our home.
It is your family who will always support you. It is your family who will care. It is your family who will always love you no matter your color, shape, size, or belief. This is why I believe in summer nights lit up by stars, road trips down lonely highways, get-togethers big and small, and plastic, light-up Santas even if they mean being stuffed in a stinky car. This is why I believe in family.
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