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Featured Article

A Great Way To Start Off The Holidays

Looking Forward to Traditions

Article by Showcase Properties of Central Florida

Photography by Showcase Properties of Central Florida

Originally published in Gainesville City Lifestyle

Ryan Swanson
REALTOR® with Showcase Properties of Central Florida - Gainesville Office

“Christmas is a pretty big deal for us, and we pretty much make it a month-long extravaganza all the way up to New Year’s. It’s a good excuse for all of us to basically act like kids for a few weeks, and we make the most of it. There are two non-negotiable, absolutely required activities that must be observed each year without fail: One, we pile into the car some night and go driving around looking at neighborhood Christmas lights and decorations. It’s fun to see what people have created in their front yards and on their houses, and the themes are really entertaining. Some of them go way over the top, too, with lights, music, strobes – you name it. We always have a blast doing that.

“The second required activity is cookie baking and watching Christmas movies. There’s lots of baking and many, many, many cookies. My favorites are the little starburst cookies with sprinkles on top. You can eat one in just a bite, which makes it all too easy to devour half a plate of them before you know what happened. Then we’ll pile into the living room and watch Christmas with the Kranks, Elf, All I Want for Christmas, and The Sound of Music, or we’ll have them playing in the background while we bake and eat cookies. I look forward to it every year.”

Tate Mikell & Anne McKinley
REALTORs® with Showcase Properties of Central Florida - Gainesville Office

“In our family, we start Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. Instead of going out into the melee of Black Friday, we use the day to put our tree up and decorate it, which is a lot more fun than
struggling through a horde of people shopping – and sometimes wrestling each other, literally – for retail goodies. So we give ourselves a pat on the back for taking the saner option of spending the day together in a relaxing atmosphere, hanging bulbs on the tree and talking, cooking, baking, and eating. It’s a great way to start off the holidays.

“Christmas Eve is spent, without fail, at my grandmother’s home in Williston, where she cooks an enormous dinner for all of us – including the great-grandchildren. She puts on a spread that
would put a caterer to shame. After we eat, we open new pajama presents from Granny, and everyone puts them on – including most of us grandchildren now in our forties. Then we gather
in the family room for an evening of board games – which get hilariously competitive. We don’t do Black Friday shopping, but we have a matching level of ruthlessness playing Settlers of

“But the highlight of the night is always, always Aunt Cathy doing her famous headstand – a now decades-old tradition. It’s not Christmas without that headstand.”