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The spirit of Christmas, the spirit of Notre Dame

Michelle Fordice | Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas is gathering around Notre Dame like the last snowfall. The sounds of carols drift out of dorm rooms, campus buildings are adorned with garland and wreathes and despite the oncoming finals week, that feeling of excitement is starting to grow. We don’t get to spend Christmas Day itself at Notre Dame, but the season certainly begins here and it is worth savoring.The campus is certainly beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Even if it is aggravating at times, the snow on the ground is a treat for all of us who usually celebrate Christmas in warmer climates. We’ll all be trying to pack in as many snow angels and snowball fights as we can before we leave. Decorations abound: the giant evergreen trees have been lit, Christmas trees have been set up and decorated in the classroom buildings and offices around the school, and Christmas lights are making each early nightfall a little more cheery. Notre Dame is looking like a Winter Wonderland. As the holiday season appears around the corner, we are reminded of how Notre Dame is its own type of family. Students gather in their dorms to bake cookies together or build the gingerbread houses that will decorate North Dining Hall for the next few weeks. Dorm doors suddenly become the equivalent of our front yards at home, as we decorate them with cut out snowflakes, stockings, and strings of lights. We decorate the Christmas trees in our dorms like we do the ones at home. Shoes appear outside of doors on the Feast of St. Nicholas to be filled with candy by the hall staff members that support us all year round. The glee club travels to different dorms and classroom buildings, standing in for our neighborhood Christmas carolers. These early weeks of the season are the chance to celebrate Christmas with the friends that have become our family away from home. All of these Christmas preparations and celebrations remind us of the spiritual side of Notre Dame. The first advent candle has been lit in the Basilica and chapels across campus, hymns like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” fill us with anticipation, and the nativity scenes set up at the grotto, the Dome and O’Shaughnessy become a visual reminder of why we celebrate Christmas. We start to think about giving back as service projects and donation drives abound, reminding us to care for the people that are not guaranteed a good Christmas. The heart of Notre Dame is about considering what matters most; you can find a good education at many universities, but Christmastime is just one reminder that Notre Dame is about something more. So take time to breathe in the crisp winter air, bask in the glow of Christmas lights, and remember that there are more important things than just making it through the last few weeks of papers and exams. Celebrate the spirit of Christmas a little bit each day, along with the rest of our Notre Dame family.