Searching for the Christmas Spirit

Emma Cooney, Editor-in-Chief

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I have always regarded December as a time of anticipation. In elementary school, I became excited for Christmas as soon as my teachers brought out their Advent wreaths and the music teacher announced what songs we would be singing at the school concert. Once break had finally started, my sister and I watched the Barbie Christmas movies, baked cookies in our pajamas, and stared longingly at the presents accumulating under our tree. December was full of jittery anticipation for fun and family and good food. I had virtually no patience for anything that got in the way of my holiday plans.

By the time I reached middle school, Christmas had lost all of its mystery. I knew what I was going to do and eat and who I was going to spend my time with. I knew that Christmas would happen and then it would be over and I would have to go on with my life until Christmas came around again. The magic was gone somehow, and it has never really returned in the same way that it existed when I was in elementary school. Some might call that growing up, and tell me that it is just an inevitability. I don’t agree, because after a few flat, anticipation-less Christmases, I grew a tiny bit older and a tiny bit wiser, and began seeking out the Christmas spirit in places where I hadn’t looked before. When I was looking for them, it was much easier to find the things about the holiday season that gave me joy.

This December, my fellow seniors and I have a whole new sort of (malignant) anticipation given to us by our college application process. This three week stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas Vacation has become difficult in a whole new way, with many of us anxiously awaiting the release of early decisions and eyeing the looming January application deadlines. There is very little magic in this kind of anticipation. Imagine opening a present knowing that there was a %15 chance you would find car keys inside but an 85% chance you would find a contagious disease. And a whole bunch of paperwork. It is kind of like that, except you don’t get a car. It is strange knowing that I have two very different potential Christmases ahead of me, and strange knowing that I don’t get to choose which one I experience. That decision was made for me by some old people in a room somewhere, looking at a piece of paper that was supposed to represent me and my beliefs and my fears and my possible contribution to their school. It is hard to spend any time searching for joy at Christmas when this pressure and anticipation lurks around every corner.

Thankfully, the Christmas spirit is not as lost as it seems. I know that I can find joy if I look for it. One significant source of the Christmas spirit is the Catholic Church, and the season of Advent. As Mr. Beyer said at the choir concert, Advent is all about making room for Jesus in our hearts. With all the Jesuit talk about finding God in all things, it is easy to forget to make a place for God in myself. I can also spend time with my friends and family. Maybe now that I know what I need, I will be able to find a little more of that holiday magic that was so easy to see back in elementary school.

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