Nov 282011
Authors: Colleen McSweeney

I got a lot of things accomplished last week. And by “things,” of course, I mean sleeping, eating pie and watching day-long marathons of “Man v. Food.”

Going into Thanksgiving break, I had an extensive to-do list of work that I was, “definitely going to finish because I’ll have sooo much free time on my hands.” But unfortunately, going home for a holiday break means inevitably and temporarily forgetting you’re actually an adult in college.

Would I like to browse Netflix all day, watching only 10 minutes each of a few dozen different movies? Sure, why not. How about viewing a musical tribute to Regis Philbin, getting really choked up and crying alone with my diabetic cat Rufus? Yes, that sounds like the best use of my time.

Over break, I lived like a hybrid of a carefree preteen and a 70-year-old cat woman.

And suffice to say, I, and I’m sure many of you, got nothing done and will be paying for it with the stress of the next few weeks.

But that’s alright, because these next three weeks aren’t just any normal academia-filled weeks. No, these next weeks won’t just be filled with late-night paper writing and exam studying –– these days before Winter Break are the prime time to mask our anxiety over classes with superfluous amounts of the Christmas spirit.

After having just spent some time with family over Thanksgiving, I’m sure most of us feel a little bit of that “there’s no place like home for the holidays” sentimental warmth. Or maybe, last week with your family solidified the reason why you left for college in the first place.

Either way, the break hopefully at least made things look a bit more cheerful. But then, just as we were starting to get that cozy holiday feel, the cruel mistress of college schoolwork pulls us back into her cold grasp, and then suddenly, what’s Christmas?

Suddenly, we stop looking at the holiday season as a happy time to spend with friends and family and instead, it becomes just another source of stress –– because really, who has the time and money to find the perfect gift for everyone? And since when did Justin Bieber have a Christmas album?

It’s so easy to get caught up in the anxiety-inducing aspects of the season, but I think, for the sanity of us all, we need to start wholeheartedly embracing the good, old-fashioned holiday cheer during these next weeks of classes.

You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, easier said than done. Where do I find this ‘holiday cheer’? Next to the artificial Christmas trees in Walmart? Or maybe in King Sooper’s holiday candy section?”

Maybe, if that’s where you find joyful sentiment. But as almost every Lifetime Christmas movie has taught me, the holiday season, and the potential joy that can come from it, is about so much more than the superficial.

Author Mary Ellen Chase once said, “Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.”

And as I’ve gotten older, it’s a state of mind that doesn’t come nearly as effortlessly as it used to.

But I think, in order to revert back to those blissful holiday feelings of our childhood, we need to do just that: revert back to our childhood.

Think back to the time when Christmas meant not being able to fall asleep because you were just so excited about Santa coming. They pretended not to, but I’m sure my parents hated me for waking them up at 4 a.m. ever year to open presents.

But eventually, as the “magical” element of Christmas faded, so did our excitement.

Remember the first year that Santa and your parents accidentally used the exact same wrapping paper? That just so happens to be about the same time you stopped waking up at 4 a.m.

Yet, there’s still always things that can bring back the feelings of holiday warmth (besides heavily spiked eggnog).

For me, it’s listening to Bing Crosby’s “Christmas Song” and watching the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting on T.V. And even though we can’t put a full-sized tree in our apartment, since my roommates’ cats will inevitably climb it and knock it over, we still have a small one to remind us of Christmas at home.

It’s not difficult, but simple things like that –– whatever reminds you of the child-like holiday spirit –– can get you through the next few busy weeks.

This column wasn’t entirely Hanukkah friendly, so I’d like to leave you with this tidbit: “The Christmas Song,” “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and many other cherished Christmas classics were all, in fact, written by Jewish composers.

Editorial Editor Colleen McSweeney is a junior journalism major. Her column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at

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