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It’s the most wonderful time of the year?

| Monday, December 5, 2016

No time of the year seems to produce as many mixed feelings for me as the holiday season does. All of the positive things that come with the holidays often feel like they aren’t quite as good as they seem. I type this as I listen to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and the first snow slowly falls outside my window. I should be perfectly content and not have a care in the world. But that’s just not true.

How can I sit back and enjoy the Christmas cheer when I have so much going on in my life? Finals loom menacingly on the horizon, and piles of procrastinated work — including writing this article — prevent me from even considering studying yet. Every night last week I returned to my proud home, Carroll Hall, to the sight of my fellow Vermin enthusiastically decorating the dorm for Carroll Christmas. I truly did wish to join in and help, but how could I rationalize ignoring my work when I knew I had an Organic Chemistry test on Thursday? At times the decorating was an actual burden on me. I was trying to do work in Carroll, but my study spot of choice was being repurposed into a Santa’s-workshop-themed room. I never felt upset or angry about any of this, as obviously the dorm needed to be spruced up — I just wish I could have joined in and felt the joys of holiday spirit.

Maybe there is more to this problem than just the stresses of school though. It often feels like there is an idealized version of Christmas in my mind that is never really matched by reality. Is it my fault for having this idea of the perfect holiday season in my head? I don’t believe so. I think that many Americans’ idea of Christmas is at least a bit overly rosy. When you are constantly hearing incredibly cheery music and having your heartstrings tugged at by Hallmark Channel specials, it is hard not to put Christmas on a pedestal. The truth is that Christmas won’t ever live up to these lofty ideals. You will get sick of listening to the same songs over and over again, and you will tire of trudging through the snow to get to class. But maybe that is OK.

Christmas doesn’t need to be perfect. It is not a magical time of the year where everyone’s problems disappear and only happiness remains. That doesn’t mean it can’t be special though. I know I can’t wait to get back to my home and family — even if I know I’ll just feel like being alone at times. I want to drink hot chocolate by the tree, I want to pet my Golden Retriever and I want to eat a little bit too much pie. And when I really think about it, what more could I want?

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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