Cherishing Togetherness During the Holidays

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by Alyssa Silva |

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Every year at Christmastime, my family carries out one of my favorite traditions. We all gather in the living room — my parents, brother, his wife and kids, and me — and watch the classic Claymation movie “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” To complete our viewing experience, my mom bakes enough chocolate chip cookies to ensure we all get seconds.

This tradition dates back more than 40 years to when my parents started dating. They’ve now successfully passed it down to two generations, and it’s still going strong.

As you may gather, my family and I are big on traditions. Holidays, birthdays, and even vacations always involve certain customs. (It’s a requirement that we go to Epcot on the first night of every Disney World trip.) But throughout the Christmas season, the Silva traditions are amplified tenfold. Putting up Christmas lights that rival Clark Griswold’s display, attending Christmas Eve Mass, and watching the Claymation classics are a few examples of the merriment this time of year brings.

If you know me, you know I’m all about the fun and festive energy of the holidays. I love the memories that are made as a result, whether I hold them in my heart or hang them as homemade ornaments on our tree. I always look forward to creating and reliving these moments.

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But beyond the hustle and bustle and the special memories, what I love most about my family’s traditions is that they bring us closer together.

My tightknit family has always valued togetherness. Whether we’re eating, vacationing, or watching a show, finding time to be together is a priority. It’s something that SMA has taught us to cherish deeply, and the message rings even truer during the holiday season. After all, I’ve swapped holidays with family for holidays in the intensive care unit with doctors and nurses (and unappetizing hospital food, I might add) in years past. Missing out on important moments and traditions taught me to value time with family even more.

While the old adage reminds us that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, living with SMA drives this message home. Although I don’t particularly love the morbid connotation, it’s a powerful reminder to never take the joy of spending time with family for granted. We’ve faced many problems over the years, but they have only solidified the importance of togetherness, which is the real gift of the Christmas season.

Life is short and precious, and living with SMA means this is constantly whispered in the back of my mind. So, when I’m with family and everyone is healthy, nothing else matters. I’m grateful for Christmas traditions where we sing along with the Island of Misfit Toys and eat chocolate chip cookies that somehow always taste better when we’re watching Rudolph. I’m grateful for the memories we hold close to our hearts. But most of all, I’m grateful for the togetherness my family’s traditions cultivate.

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Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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