Luckily for me, I’ve had the pleasure living in Nebraska for all but a few years of my life. I’ve never had to worry about whether I would be able to make it home for Christmas because I’m already home. But if I were to move away permanently, I’d do everything I could do make it back to Nebraska every single every Christmas season. For those of you who have moved away, these are some very compelling reasons for you to make it back to Nebraska for this (and every) Christmas season.
1. The lights.
From town-wide light shows to the families who dress up their individual homes, Nebraskans love to show off their Christmas decorating skills. The best displays are the ones that take up entire farms, where the farmers encourage people to drive through their properties to view the elaborate lights and decorations.
2. The decorations.
Starting in November, towns begin putting up candy canes, Santa faces, tinsel candles, and other iconic Christmas symbols on every light pole and storefront. Businesses set out their own displays in their windows and inside, many of which are Nebraska-themed and just couldn’t be found anywhere else.
3. The festivals.
You can find a festival in a Nebraska town just about every weekend from early November through the end of December. It’s so fun to see entire towns turn out to watch live music and parade, look at twinkling lights, and drink hot chocolate while enjoying horse-drawn sleigh rides.
4. The food.
Home-cooked food is great any time of year, but there’s something really special about Christmas meals in Nebraska. A lot of people here have German, Dutch, and Czech heritage, and you can taste the influence of those cultures in the dishes we serve over the holidays. But so many other cultures and traditions are part of our family holiday feasts that we're always spoiled for choice.
5. The snow.
Most of us spend all winter wishing for no snow (or maybe just a mild snowstorm that doesn’t cause too much inconvenience), but beginning in mid-December just about every Nebraskan starts hoping that we’ll get that magical, elusive December 24th snowfall. (But no one wants to repeat that crazy Christmas blizzard of a few years ago.)
6. The community.
Communities unite in the Christmas season to celebrate together. Potlucks, community center parties, Christmas caroling, and just a general feeling of good cheer are a part of every town and city. We’re a little kinder to each other, a little happier, and a little more prone to spend time with each other.
7. The generosity.
Speaking of kindness, while many Nebraskans perform community service all throughout the year, it really ramps up around the holidays. We donate toys, food, money, and time to make sure that everyone has enough. Nothing brings a smile to our faces quite like bringing a smile to someone else’s.
8. The craft fairs.
Craft fairs are such an important part of our Christmas traditions. Amateur crafters sell their wares right alongside those who have made careers of making things. The holidays wouldn’t be complete without visiting at least one or two community craft fairs, either as a seller or a customer.
9. The ice skating.
When the weather turns cold enough, all of the little farm ponds and community lakes suddenly turn into prime ice skating space. We don’t need fancy indoor rinks (and some of us don’t even bother with ice skates).
10. The family togetherness.
Family is, of course, the most important reason to come home for the holiday season. What would Christmas be without our loved ones to share it with?
Are you a Nebraska native living far from home? What keeps you coming back for Christmas every year?