The other day, I found myself heading to the mall to buy last-minute Christmas presents, frantically going over to-do lists in my head as I drove. While navigating holiday shopping crowds and feeling slightly grumpy, I realized that this frenzied errand was the opposite of what I should have been doing. As Hanukkah and the winter solstice come to a close and Christmas approaches, it’s the time of year for stillness and reflection. When I slow down enough to actually think about the meaning of this time of year, I realize that all of my favorite holiday memories center around my family and our home. While our houses changed over the years, my parents always worked hard to make whatever space we lived in feel safe, comfortable, and happy. The holidays were spent watching movies, sitting by the fire with hot chocolate or glasses of wine, and playing board games around our kitchen table.

To honor this time for reflection and celebrating, I chatted with the SeaReal Team about their favorite memories and what they do to make their homes cozy for the holidays.

Ezequiel, Team Administrator

Favorite holiday memories: As a child, my favorite memories came from large family gatherings and waiting in anticipation not for the gifts but for the TAMALES that my aunts and grandmother were cooking up. We used to sneak into the kitchen and take a couple of them from the pot. Abuela would see us and smile.

Holiday rituals today: In our house my kids love decorating during the holiday season. They love putting up lights wherever they can. The first thing my youngest daughter does when she wakes up in the morning is turn on all the decorative lights.

Shannon, Operating Partner and Co-Owner

Favorite holiday memories: My favorite childhood memories feature Christmas music and singing at church with my family, especially my Grandmother. I love the classics like Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O’Holy Night, and Silent Night. No matter the key, as a child I would belt out the lyrics with all my heart. As I grew up and realized that singing on key was important (and impossible for me), I would still (and do still) belt out these old favorites, happily surrounded by and drowned out by fellow church-goers and carolers.

Holiday rituals today: My husband, who hails from Mexico, is (to put it lightly) obsessed with lights. Our home (inside and outside) is adorned with many (almost too many) lights, all of which are on timers set to go off before we wake and after we go to bed. The lights and the timers are a big deal at our house and are more important than the holiday cookies or even the Christmas dinner.

Rodolfo, Team Leader and Co-Owner

Favorite holiday memories: The gathering of all family members very loud laughs  big smiles, fun dinner, opening the gifts and making a big mess with the wrapping paper..

Holiday rituals today: We like lights–a lot of lights, and candles, the fireplace on all the time, smell of cinnamon and baking goods. I love to stand in the window and see the frozen lawn–I always wish for snow on Christmas. I jump from bed to see if we have snow…in Seattle snow on Christmas day is not common.

What are your favorite holiday memories? What kinds of rituals do you practice this time of year to make your home cozy? However you celebrate, the SeaReal Team wishes you happy holidays.