When I celebrated Christmas in the U.S. I started to feel the Christmas spirit on December 7th, when I was invited to an “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party” that was organized by my friend from a neighboring town. My host mom lent me a sweater for the party – it was a really ugly, blackish gray sweater with green trim, and a Santa printed on the front with multicolored lights. The party was a lot of fun! I got the chance to meet new people and we laughed at the differences between American and European Christmas traditions. We also drank hot cocoa, toasted marshmallows, and then made ‘S’mores’. The party had a contest for the ugliest Christmas sweater, and I got third place! By the end of the party, I had not only made new friends and memories, but also got to take home a gigantic chocolate Christmas decoration as my prize.

The Christmas celebrations continued with another party at my teammate’s house, where we all came in our pajamas, handed out funny gifts to each other and played party games. This party gave us the chance to bond as a team. Even our coach stopped by the party to celebrate with us! In November, I had promised my coach that I’d buy her a bamboo straw for Christmas. I was able to gift it to her at this party, and I’m sure she still uses it today.

On Christmas Eve, my two host siblings came to visit. We exchanged gifts that were in our stockings that hung above the fireplace. Our whole family, along with our dog and six cats, spent the whole evening having fun and watching Christmas movies. It was such a great time and that day is one of my favorite memories from my year in the U.S. On Christmas Day, we woke up had breakfast and opened our presents together. We played some basketball and ate a huge Christmas dinner with smoked ham, mashed potatoes and green beans. For dessert we had a traditional pecan pie together with cookies. We ate the whole evening and played games. It was a very merry Christmas

Written by Diana Petrikova ´20 (Pruske, Slovakia/Throckmorton, TX)