Tis the season of finals, merry studying and wishing you the gifts of the season — all nighters and A-plusses. It is that time of year again, the Christmas trees are decorated, the lights have been strung, the stockings have been placed over the fireplace, the gingerbread cookies are baking in the oven and we college students are far, far away from it all, in our dimly lit dorm rooms hovered over a textbook, wishing this time would just go by.
During the holidays, it seems as if everyone enjoys the festivities of life from sipping hot chocolate with family to re-watching the same Christmas movies again and again, but that cheer and glee seems to stop right at the doors of our residence halls, leaving us college students deprived of the holiday spirit and instead filled with stress and angst.
We face endless silent nights, studying, alone with our thoughts. All we want for Christmas ends up being good grades on our exams. We deck the (dining) halls right before closing because we forget to eat. It certainly does not feel like the most wonderful time of the year.
All throughout our lives, we were exposed to the holidays from the very beginning of December. With holiday parties in school, to Secret Santa gift exchanges with friends, we never felt devoid of the Christmas spirit because even a small Christmas tree in the corner of a classroom catalyzed excitement and anticipation.
So naturally, when there wasn’t a Christmas tree in every building on campus and no wreaths hung on any one of my classroom doors, I felt cheated. I felt wronged that I was constantly studying for exams and I was not able to feel the same youthful and earnest emotions I had just a year ago. Despite how dramatic it may sound, I felt like my holiday happiness was being taken away from me.
Then one day I sat on the steps of Drexel’s main building, staring at the twinkling blue and white lights, and quickly came to realize that I was not being cheated. My happiness wasn’t being taken away, it just wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter. When you come to college, you realize that the thrill of the holidays is only yours to create.
Being a freshman, I realized that you shape your own life here, every single solitary aspect, and that includes holiday excitement. There are no grandmas to bake cookies or moms to string the ornaments, there is just you and your desire. When they tell you that college is what you make of it, they mean it in every literal sense. If you miss holiday baking, you can go into the common kitchen and cook to your heart’s content. If you miss your tree and stockings, place a mini tree on your night stand and decorate your door with lights.
College teaches you that only you have the power to make yourself happy, especially during this time of year — a time of year that creates a conflict between the practicality of schoolwork and the enticement of the holidays.
Now I walk to every class with Michael Buble’s Christmas album on repeat, wearing my favorite reindeer socks and the campus seems more spirited. Before I start my studying for the night, I turn the lights on of my miniature Christmas tree perched on the top of my desk, and I find myself smiling while reading. Right before going to bed, I treat myself with a gingerbread cookie and warm milk and I understand that maybe, this time of year is only as beautiful as you decide to make it.