November 20, 2017

I've Been Dreaming of A Maroon Christmas

Embracing the holiday spirt can help us maintain a sense of belonging.

The leaves are falling, the air is crisp, and it’s already snowed, but more importantly, I’ve already started listening to Christmas music.  For as long as I can remember, Christmas has been a day of pure joy, and I have no shame in starting the festivities before, not only Thanksgiving, but also Halloween. However, it is often the case that other people do not share my Christmas spirit. Rather than being excited for the holiday season, many people prefer to  spend their energy complaining about celebrating too early, arguing that there should be a set period of time to embrace the Christmas spirit. At UChicago, it is beyond common to normalize stress, often in the form of bragging about lack of sleep and sadistic workloads, but when somebody wants to be happy, people can be far too quick to protest. In fact, continuing Christmas traditions has allowed me to maintain a strong sense of self.

At its foundation, Christmas is about being with family and friends, giving and receiving, and celebrating birth and rebirth. As a national holiday in the US, it’s entirely possible that everyone can embrace the positives of Christmas, or more broadly, the spirit of the holiday season. Additionally, Christmas doesn’t necessarily have to be entirely Christian or centered around consumerism. Christmas can be what you make of it, and if the process of preparing for the holiday season begins earlier than Thanksgiving, there simply isn’t any harm.

Especially in a college environment, where friends and family can be so far away, it can be incredibly helpful to carry traditions with you to retain a sense of belonging. For me, listening to Christmas music has been my most important tradition. By carrying this tradition with me to college not only do I get to cherish old memories, but I also have the privilege of creating new memories, making UChicago seem increasingly like home. In this sense, I find it ridiculous to confine the holiday season in between Thanksgiving and the Epiphany. If somebody wants to celebrate their traditions at any time, there should be no reason why this should bother anybody else. 

While it can be said that starting the Christmas celebration too early detracts from the actual day of Christmas, starting the festivities early actually  allows the joy to begin earlier, building anticipation for the day itself. It’s incredibly easy to get wrapped up in the constant stresses of school work, and that makes it even more important to identify with the little things that can lift your spirits. If that thing just happens to be celebrating the holidays, then great, and if not— then that’s fine too.  But it’s still absurd to me that people invest  their time and energy in complaining about  others who celebrate Christmas too early.  All this does is dictate and restrain all the ways in which a person can experience happiness from Christmas.

Even though we’re still more than a month away from Christmas, I have Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on repeat.  Christmas is the perfect excuse to escape the maddening UChicago stress and focus on your own happiness, as well as those you care about. I’m excited about planning which presents to buy, putting up lights, and spending time with my family.  Instead of scorning those that want to celebrate, just let people have their joy, because realistically, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Fred Kardos is a second-year in the College.