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A Little Holiday Spirit Goes a Long Way


I was walking down Mass. Ave. one evening before Thanksgiving when I saw a star in East. It was only mid-November, but Christmas lights were already up in the Square. By my college barometer, the Christmas season had begun. I grumbled and continued on my way. Despite my grumbling, as I walked I got to thinking that the holidays really were just around the corner. That night I pulled my red and green one piece pajamas out of the trunk under my bed. It was the first time holiday cheer had appeared in my dorm room in a very long time, and I decided it was time to bring it back.

I banished the holidays nearly two years ago, after a few failed years of trying. During the first year of college, eager to create a holiday home away from home, I tracked down some hand-knit stockings to leave out for Santa, while another roommate whipped up some egg nog. My third roommate added the crowning glory, and made us probably the first room in Greenough to ever have a six foot live tree in the middle of our common room.

We played carols for weeks, hung a jingle bell above our front door, and entertained our proctor group under the tree. Santa visited out stockings, and we had a jolly last couple of weeks of school.

Of course, by the time we got back from winter vacation, the tree was long dead and had been cited as a fire hazard. Our hallmate had ripped down the jingle bell after being greeted with its high-pitched ringing one too many times. And my holiday CDs mysteriously disappeared, to the glee of all those around. A week into January, I decided there was definitely such as thing as too much holiday spirit.

Sophomore year, with visions of the failed Christmas tree dancing in my head, I settled for just hanging my stockings and a string of chili-pepper red lights, and tried to ignore the holidays. Inspired by the previous year's success, junior year I decided that my roommates' Menorah was holiday decoration enough, and I did not even drag the tired stockings out of storage. I took the Charlie Brown approach to Christmas and deemed it too commercial and not worth all the effort. The season went by quickly and uneventfully.

Now that my fourth Harvard holiday is fast approaching, I am not sure what to make of my newfound holiday cheer. So I decided to take a cue from the star above Mass. Ave. and start planning early. I came back from Thanksgiving break well-armed. I bought boxes of cards, planning carefully ahead for the right variety of humorous and serious, religious and secular messages, in sharp contrast to my typical last minute trip to the Coop for the leftover box of Shoebox Greetings with clever jokes about killing reindeer.

I picked out a festive holiday sweater--settling eventually for the tasteful green and red snowflake pattern rather than the one with the stitched-on ornaments and candy canes that I hated to leave behind. I even braved the mall the morning after Thanksgiving for the first time ever, and lasted close to three hours among throngs of family members whose Thanksgiving harmony had long since faded. My shopping is not anywhere near finished, but I feel a certain pride for coming back prepared.

I still do not think I will be going out to western Massachusetts to chop down my own tree--unless, of course, I run out of other inspirational decorations to hang--but I think that a little holiday spirit can go a long way during the endless final weeks before vacation. The end of December doesn't bring the joy of closure that is felt at other schools with the end of exams. And the anticipation usually associated with the coming of the first snow is not an issue, since the first snow has long since come and gone almost a month before. All things considered, we could use a little effort in the holiday cheer department, and I will do my best to finally get it right.

So if you hear me coming from a mile away wearing my jingle bell necklace during these next few weeks, at least commend me for my effort. But if you see me still wearing my Christmas sweater in January, you can gently remind me that Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and I better get a head start. Sigh.

Corinne E. Funk's column appears on alternate Tuesdays.

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