Spirit, joy, and family come together at the Danahy's

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The Danahy family has been preparing for the Christmas season since Thanksgiving, and with the holiday right around the corner, the festivities and decorations are all coming together.  Some of the many decorations the family sets up include a life-size singing Santa, two light-up villages, a life-size wooden nativity scene outside, a house covered in lights and garland, and a total of five Christmas trees.  Aside from the material aspect of Christmas, senior Grace Danahy values most the traditions she and her family have cultivated and the memories each holiday season brings.

A life-size “Buddy the Elf” cardboard cut-out and Christmas wall is set up in the Danahy’s house.  Courtesy of Grace Danahy ’19

It takes about three weekends to complete the decorating around the Danahy home.  The whole family works together to fill the trees with ornaments, leaving no sparse areas. They usually decorate their fake tree, which they refer to as their “family tree,” in red and gold or blue and silver.  
“We have had our family tree forever because my sister Ali had been allergic [to Christmas trees] for years before she grew out of it,” Grace said.  “This tree, though, is where we place our family’s presents to one another and is also the spot for our extended family’s gifts.  For that reason, it has always been a special piece of our home.”
Their real tree, however, is more sentimental to Grace as it is covered in family ornaments, from crafts to keepsakes, and from places they have traveled.  This is also the tree where Santa delivers his presents.  Grace explained that once all of the trees are up, it reminds her and her family of all their memories, especially the real tree that they deck out in their most prized arts and crafts and mementos.  Still, each family member has a favorite decoration that yields the most meaning.
“Every decoration has a meaning and we each carry a different favorite, mine personally is the fireplace because my mom customized our stockings with a name tag when we were younger,” Grace said.  “My mom loves her ceramic Christmas village and the nativity out front as she has always reminded us to never forget that Christmas is more than just Santa and what we want for the new year, but rather that it’s about God and all that He graciously gives us.”
Grace celebrating Christmas with her sisters Katie Danahy ’17 and Ali Danahy ’16.  Courtesy of Grace Danahy ’19

Every year, the Danahy’s host Christmas dinner at their house, extending the invitation to all family members.  Grace explained how as she has grown up, her family has instilled values in her to appreciate the meaningful time she has to spend with her family, more so than the material aspect of Christmas.
“I have come to appreciate being able to make memories through my family’s time spent watching movies, baking, and decorating,” Grace said.  “Of course, the material aspect of Christmas is always exciting, but most of my fondest memories have come from simply being together, whether it was being the Nativity angels in our Christmas Eve mass or making breakfast with our mom on Christmas day before watching A Christmas Story.”
Grace posing with her sister Ali Danahy ’16 in front of their decorated fireplace.  Courtesy of Grace Danahy ’19

While setting up decorations is a popular part of the holiday season, Grace finds that the decorations are a vehicle that brings her and her family together.  The sentiment comes from the experience rather than the items themselves.
“I believe the fact that we take so much time getting ready for Christmas makes us more appreciative to have that time to sit down together and look apart from gifts,” Grace said.  “It really allows us to see that Christmas wouldn’t be the same had we not all been together making memories.”
– Karina Badey, Co-Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor
Featured image by Karina Badey ’19