Thanksgiving has officially ended. Pumpkin patches are slowly packing up to make way for Christmas tree lots while houses are outlined in lights. However, as people trade in their turkeys for hot cocoa and candy canes, not many people are sure how else they can celebrate outside of their family traditions. Luckily, different events held in and around Mansfield are here for all to enjoy.
Every year, the city of Grand Prairie hosts Prairie Lights, keeping it open until about a week into the new year. Prairie Lights are a trail of lights that you can drive through and, as of this year, they’ve now added the option to walk through a separate group of lights on a separate trail.
Beyza Bayrak, junior, is a foreign exchange student at Lake Ridge. Bayrak is from Turkey where they only celebrate the new year. She will be experiencing her first Christmas this year.
“We always bring in the new year with parties and we know of Noel. We don’t have trees and Santa and things as festive as Americans. I’m excited to experience the Christmas spirit. I’m interested in Prairie Lights. Driving past them at night they are pretty and I’d like to go with my new friends. I want to feel the feeling American’s have always felt waking up on Christmas morning and it would be a nice memory to take back,” Bayrak said.
One of the most popular events to take place during the Christmas season is taking pictures with Santa. Mira Lagos offered a chance for a picture with Santa on December 2nd in support of the Red Cross. Santa and his elves might also be spotted at places like the Parks Mall in Arlington and MISD’s annual Toys for Tots event.
Taking pictures wth Santa seems to be fun for people no matter their age. Although it can usually be associated with younger kids, you can find many students getting into the Christmas spirit. Madison Vickers, junior, is one of those people. Even though her and her family have several traditions, her personal favorite is getting pictures with Old Saint Nick.
“Taking pictures with Santa is always fun. It reminds me of being a kid and brings back memories. It’s a tradition of my own I try to keep alive. The older I get the more it means to me,” Vickers said.
Although Christmas lights and pictures with Santa are fun, they aren’t the only things people look forward to during Christmas time. While Vickers still loves getting pictures, she believes Christmas is a time to spend with friends and family and follow up how thankful you were for them in November. For the Vickers family, a favorite tradition is their annual Christmas party.
“Each year the party usually falls on my birthday since we like to have it on the weekend that school lets out for break. We don’t exchange gifts till the actual day of Christmas but the party is a time to connect with the friends and family we won’t wake up to on that morning,” Vickers said.
Junior, Caleb Leeper usually spends his Christmas with family as well. It’s a time for him to connect to his more distant relatives.
“My family will sometimes go out of town to have a sort of family reunion with the family we don’t see everyday. When we stay in town we volunteer on Christmas Eve and then share gifts on Christmas day,” Leeper said.
Along with celebrating with his immediate family, Leeper enjoys celebrating with his step team family.
“I’m a member of the Distinguished Gentleman’s step team so we performed at Toys for Tots but I wasn’t interested in pictures with Santa. Prairie Lights is what I’m more inclined to do because it’s pretty and you can rely on it since it’s always there when Christmas comes around,” said Leeper
Christmas is largely considered to be a time for family and the traditions that are passed from one generation to the next. However, events outside of the home are also significant and, in some cases, have the potential to become traditions themselves.