Now that it's officially the holiday season, it's essential to check off all the things on the Christmas to-do list. That means baking peanut butter blossoms, stocking up on gifts from Amazon while all shipping is free, and planning in-class food parties. For me, it also means going to Shake Shack with my parents in my mom's Toyota Camry.

Wait, what?

Going to Shake Shack wasn't always a Christmastime tradition in the Lee household. Three years ago (right before Christmas), my parents and I were on Route 17, on our way to Trader Joe's to do some grocery shopping for our big Christmas dinner. For some reason, our over-a-decade-old Toyota Camry decided to break down right then and there, at a time when my parents and I were particularly starving. After calling AAA, my mom and I walked to the nearest place selling food—which happened to be Shake Shack—and bought some of the most perfectly greasy burgers so that we were at least not irritably hungry while we waited to be saved. Eventually, it was all a happy ending. AAA came to rescue us, my parents and I had happy stomachs, and we got our grocery shopping done the next day. My parents and I being sentimental people, we've gone to Shake Shack every Christmastime as our way of remembering that time we froze to death but were happily full. We couldn't be gladder that there was good food near us at that time.

But That Shake Shack Wasn't Always There...

shakeshack, fries, burger, shackburger, crinklefries, hamburger, tray, lettuce, tomao
Justin Oh

When my mom and I walked over to that Shake Shack on Route 17, the location was still relatively new at that time. According to Tommy Ballerini, the Strategic Projects Coordinator at Shake Shack Headquarters, that Paramus location was created "still very early on in the company's growth." But how was I so lucky that the best burger in the east was right there when my car broke down? Turns out it was more than a lil' bit of luck. This Route 17 location "was a special opening for the company" because Randy Garuti (the CEO of Shake Shack) was actually from Bergen County, and "celebrated a bit of a homecoming [on opening night]." Therefore, we were hometown supporters of the creation of Shake Shack in the CEO's hometown!

How My Family's Tradition Has Evolved

Even though I still get the 'Shroom Burger and split Cheese Fries with my parents every Christmastime, our tradition has changed evolved. With every release of the Holiday Shakes came the addition of a new shake to our tradition. According to Ballerini, Shake Shack is loyal to the classics but also innovates their menu to keep it fresh through their Innovation Kitchen in the West Village. Whatever Shake Shack crafts in there are good, considering my parents and I haven't hesitated to keep getting the special shakes after we first added them to our holiday tradition.

I hope my strange experience was intriguing enough to make you want to go to Shake Shack. Hey, if you and your family go to Shake Shack for Christmas, you know that at least I won't judge. Thank you Shake Shack for that wonderfully gooey 'Shroom Burger I ate in the snow, all the Shake Shack employees, and AAA. Y'all made that slightly horrible night a bit more bearable.