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The arrangement of nutcrackers the four monogramed stockings hung by the chimney the bright Christmas tree the aroma of the Yankee Candle Christmas scents The McCrees are always festive and my brother Justin and I take Christmas Eve very seriously This was not just any ole day or just Christmas Eve This was the one time out the year where we as civil siblings could work on our biggest project together baking cookies for Santa Claus But this Christmas Eve was different Over the past year my father had faced four months of public humiliation and dishonesty to our family and my grandmother had passed away the year before Also this past year had been four year anniversary of my auntsthe originator of this ritual---death Since her death in 2007 I have yet to participate in the ritual I felt a tightness in my stomach as I watch Justin lay the ingredients across the kitchen counter Justin was seven and I was twelve when my aunt died Because of our five year age difference he could not understand the impact of our Aunts death had on me over him Thus this was just another year for him to fulfill the ritual But for this to be my first time participating in four years I felt uneasy My father had not died he was not sick he had not been the originator of the project so why start againChristmas Eve 1998 The Beginning My Aunt Kathleen or Gak As a child I could not pronounce the word Kathleen I could only say Gak was a very sweet imaginative and creative person Between her poised and grace it seems as though she lived life effortlessly Gak loved to put a smile on my face she would do it by having me complete different projects The project for this day Christmas Eve 1998 was to bake cookies the right way
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