My Holiday Tradition: A Christmas Run

Growing up, my family was always very close with my aunt. Every December, we did a gift exchange with her a day or two before Christmas. One year, in 2015, we did our exchange on Christmas Eve. But the next morning, we noticed we forgot to give her one of her gifts. My brother and I began discussing which of us should drive it the two miles into town. That’s when I noticed a red laundry bag, a holdover from my dad’s college days, sitting behind our recliner. I turned to Curtis and said, “What if we put on Santa hats and run the gift into town?” That idea quickly turned into: “What if I dress up like Santa and you dress up like a reindeer, and we run it into town like Santa delivering a late present?” That’s how our annual Christmas Run began.

That first year’s run was a spectacle. We have a lot of extended family that still live in the town where I grew up, so my sister let everyone know that my brother and I would be running down one of the main drags dressed as holiday characters. Our simple gift drop-off quickly turned into wishing a Merry Christmas to anyone we ran past, including many of our family members who had come out to watch us.                                                                                                                      

In 2016, we decided to keep the tradition going but with a new costume. I put on a sweater wrapped in garland (it looked like a Christmas tree) that I had worn to a past ugly sweater party. My brother found an enormous cardboard box and enough wrapping paper to dress up as a gift. We then hung candy canes on my sweater’s garland and embarked on our run. On the way into town, we handed out candy canes to passersby, to family members we saw out on the streets and even to cars that honked as they passed us. We made special trips to family members’ houses, stopped into the police station to deliver candy canes (the looks on their faces were priceless) and even dropped by the local gas station. Everyone, especially kids, got a big kick out of seeing a Christmas tree and a present running through town handing out candy canes.

Over the years, we’ve gotten increasingly creative with our costumes. In 2017, Curtis and I repurposed all the wrapping paper, gift bags and boxes leftover from opening Christmas presents and wrapped ourselves in it. We called it “Christmas camouflage.” The only downside: We lost most of our costumes on the two miles into town. We are from the country, and the open fields did not stop the winter wind from tearing away the paper.

The next year was the year of the Santa Thief. I played the part of a thief who had stolen Santa’s suit. My brother dressed as the suit-less Santa and pretended to chase me down the street in his long underwear. The year after that was a unique year because that December was warmer than usual, so we decided to run as two Santas on vacation. It ended up being slightly colder than we expected, but we still managed to finish our run.   

So far, the Christmas Run tradition has been a five-year adventure. Unfortunately, we took a hiatus in 2020 because, due to COVID-19, I was not able to make it back home. But my brother and I plan to continue our tradition for many years to come.

This Christmas Run is a fitting tradition for my brother and me. Since high school, running has helped us remain close. For more than a decade, we have run together in major events and even suffered through injury recovery together. We may be a little less competitive than we were in our youth, but this Christmas Run is just the newest addition to a long history of us running together. I can’t wait to see what costumes we think of next.

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