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Christmas starts now

I love looking out my window and being greeted by a winter wonderland. I love curling up in my bed with a book and a cup of hot chocolate. I love making snow angels and flailing around on the quad, hurling snowballs at my friends until our fingers are numb. 

That said, my brain is still trying to process the fact that campus is covered in snow in November. The rapid switch from 70 degree weather to freezing makes me wonder what happened to autumn. I’m from New Jersey, and I usually don’t expect this level of snow until at least January. It’s really messing with my perception of time. 

Up until the recent snowfall, I was in the camp that Christmas needs to wait its turn. Listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving was tolerable. Decorating and watching Christmas movies before the holidays was unacceptable. 

However, with this much snow on the ground, South Bend weather has kickstarted Christmas for me. My mindset has completely switched. I would not be surprised by the sight of a brightly lit Christmas tree somewhere on campus. I would not bat an eye if the dining hall decided to exclusively play Christmas music from now on. It snowed, so any reservations I have about the Christmas season starting early are out the window. 

With that out of the way, my Christmas hot take is that the stop motion puppet movies are better than the live action ones. “Elf” doesn’t do much for me, but I will always be really excited to watch Snow Miser and Heat Miser waddle around insulting each other. This discussion is, of course, excluding “The Polar Express,” which is an absolute classic and my favorite Christmas movie of all time. I didn’t like it when I first watched it, but my siblings made me watch it with them at least 20 times, which according to them is the only way to get the full “Polar Express” experience. I would not recommend watching it unless you are able to take in its complete beauty, which may or may not be by watching it over and over again. The story is great, the animation is amazing and the music is just perfect. 

Mariah Carey has defrosted. “All I Want For Christmas is You” is a masterpiece for the next month or so and should be treated as such. “O Holy Night,” specifically the cover by Jungkook of K-pop band BTS, will be listed about five times on my study playlist until January 1. With the change in the weather, I suddenly have a renewed interest in playing the piano — Farley Hall may have to tolerate an unfortunate rendition of “Jingle Bells” on the chapel piano at least a few times before the semester ends. 

I am so excited to celebrate Christmas! Thank you South Bend weather for making it start early. 

You can contact Caitlin Brannigan at cbrannig@nd.edu.

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

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Fall is here, but I swear, summer is forever

Perhaps the start of fall isn’t marked by last Thursday’s Autumnal Equinox at 9:04 p.m. Eastern Time — maybe it’s the August 30 return of the Pumpkin Spiced Latte to Starbucks, or the day the box fans start to disappear from dorm room windows. Maybe it’s the first chill of fall you feel on an overcast day on campus or the slow, painful retirement of your flip-flops. However you define this shift, it’s happening, and everyone’s feeling it. 

Although I want nothing more than to embrace the turn of the new season, I find myself holding on for dear life to the summertime. On chilly late-night Grotto trips and sweatshirt-clad walks to DeBart, I’m thinking about legendary nights with hometown friends and summer romances. I’m thinking about saturated sunsets and mountain air and feet-dangling-out-of-car-windows. But whenever I feel this sense of loss, I remind myself that summer can be bottled. I’ve found my summer during this seasonal transition in a few songs.

The first song is “BIKE NO MORE” by brotherkenzie, which can best be described as a haunting, unfinished love letter. The dark piano melody coupled with the eerie vocals creates an otherworldly feeling. The lyrics are distant and vague like those lingering moments from summer: “Don’t you think I know you best / When you’re fast asleep on my chest? / I’ve still got so much to say.” Despite its lack of specificity lyrically, the song is made more vivid in its repetition and sonic mood. It feels like stomping through frozen flower beds, moody and satisfying. 

“Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap, an anthemic song popularized by 500 Days of Summer, opens with a glittery, tangy guitar riff that builds gradually to an epic pre-chorus. The pre-chorus is a series of snapshots that encapsulate youth and recklessness: “A moment, a love, a dream, aloud / A kiss, a cry, our rights, our wrongs.” The song invites listeners to plug in their own kisses, cries and mistakes — it’s a montage of our youth. It’s frantic and desperate, but also slow, mesmerizing and complex. 

The most gut-wrenching song is “Wish on an Eyelash” by Mallrat. The song is less than a minute long but creates a mood of longing that survives the track. Singer Grace Kathleen Elizabeth Shaw delivers crisp, angelic vocals detailing her pining: “I made a wish on an eyelash / Made a wish on elevens / Made a wish on my birthday / Talk about you to heaven.” The song is ethereal and somber, reminiscent of summers spent full of yearning, blowing on dandelions and hoping for things seemingly out of reach. 

“September” by Roy Blair is the most obvious transitional song for this time of year. It chronicles the end of a relationship, but with a glimmer of hope for the future. Blair contextualizes the narrative, singing, “I haven’t seen your face in about three months now.” He includes concrete images of a drunk walk home and his former lover’s Honda Accord, with commentary and reflection. He pleads, “Wish that we still talked / Even if the talk was small.” The song is as much in the now as it is in the past; it is one foot in and one foot out. But, above all, the song is about acceptance that all good things must end, whether that be a season or a relationship.

Surf Curse’s “Lost Honor” is an upbeat grunge rock song that is full of anticipation and excitement. Guitarist Jacob Rubeck told Flood Magazine, “This song is about fighting for love that feels right.” From New Year’s memories and hands on hips, frontman Nick Rattigan details and discerns precious moments, but asserts that “A final kiss never dies.” When I hear this song, I feel so sure that nothing ever dies. Nothing ever goes away.

The beauty of these songs is in their breadth, but mostly in their ability to capture this indescribable feeling that we call Summer. The songs are full of longing and anger and mourning and freedom. The songs sound like those invaluable fast food runs with hometown friends and Culver’s runs in South Bend with school friends. The songs sound like curling up in a ball in your childhood bedroom and sobbing salty tears at the Grotto. The songs transcend time and place. They are not summer songs — they are forever songs. Because surely our falls will be full of longing; surely our winters will be full of joy; surely our springs will be full of “rights” and “wrongs.” Because every season brings so much new and so much of the same. 

As we trade our t-shirts and shorts for sweatshirts and jeans, I hope we all call upon those moments of bliss from the summertime with the knowledge that bliss will return in time. Maybe we won’t find it in Hesburgh Library at 2 a.m. cramming for a midterm, but we will find it somewhere in Notre Dame, Indiana, perhaps when we least expect it. 

Kate Casper (aka, Casper, Underdog, or Jasmine) is from Northern Virginia, currently residing in Breen-Phillips Hall. She strives to be the best waste of your time. You can contact her at kcasper@nd.edu.