By Thomas Infante
Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is just over the horizon. For students here at the College, this means a month without homework, exams or in my case, editing stories for The Signal. It’s a break that I look forward and find new ways to appreciate every year.
I remember waking up on Christmas morning at the crack of dawn when I was a kid, absolutely elated to open my presents and spend time with the family members that I only see a few times a year. It’s the only holiday that ever had a seemingly magical quality to it.
As I got older, Christmas for me became less about fun and excitement and became another checklist of things to get done. I inherited jobs that used to fall to my parents, like setting up the tree in our living room and stringing lights on the outside of our house. While rushing to get everything done in whatever time I had left before Dec. 25, I lost my capacity to appreciate the purpose of all the decorating.
By the end of high school, I honestly thought I would never enjoy the Christmas season like I used to. That changed completely after a few years in college. At home, the holiday hype can become overwhelming, especially after so many years of the same family traditions. At school, however, I’m way too preoccupied with other responsibilities to put almost any thought into the holidays.
As a result, I’m almost surprised to come home and see people getting excited for Christmas after watching jaded college students slog through finals for a week. Tasks that used to irritate me, like taking hours to meticulously decorate the tree with lights and ornaments, reminds me of my favorite childhood Christmas’ and fills my holiday with both nostalgic bliss and serenity.
This change in thinking made me realize that Christmas never changed, I did. Even something as joyful as Christmas can be ruined if you center all your stress on it. Most of our stress is caused more by negative thinking than by an accumulation of problems. I find that when I am at my most stressed, it’s usually about things that I’ve done many times before and can absolutely do again. So when I realized that I was actually getting frazzled over hanging Christmas lights, it forced me to put my problems in perspective.
Even though the holiday season doesn’t have the same mesmerizing effect on me as it once did, it still puts me at ease and forces me to take some time and appreciate how fortunate I am. Besides my possessions, I have great friends, a loving family and a pretty darn good GPA.
As life goes on, it gets harder and harder to find excuses to relax and unwind. So whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or something else entirely, take the time to appreciate the festivities, as well as the people around you that make it festive to begin with.