Christmas Cheer within Christmas Traditions

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By Margaret Klein –

Christmas is, as the song says, the most wonderful time of the year. What makes the holiday so magical? Is it the presents, or the snow, or the food, or maybe even the music? Or, perhaps, is it none of those?

For most people, Christmas is one of the only times out of the year the entire family gathers together. While many times a family gathering would be enough to put fear into the bravest of hearts, Christmas is different. It’s a time of peace and joy and good food. Even in times of war this effect pervades the atmosphere.

This is seen most notably in the famous truce called during World War I when, on Christmas day, the two entrenched enemies put aside their differences for one day, exchanged gifts of plum pudding and cigarettes, sang carols, and even played soccer.

Of course, Christmas means different things to different people, but what does it mean to the average RMC student? When asked about a Christmas tradition they celebrate and why it’s important, students gave varied responses. However, there was one common factor. Gerald Giebink said his tradition was family dinner and, “it’s important because it brings my family together.” Almost everyone can relate to the tradition of holiday dinner with the family. While the food itself has changed through the ages, using a meal as a way of celebration is as old as time.

Zack Sharp, a sophomore, said, “A Christmas tradition my family has is going to the 11 o’clock Christmas Eve service at my church; it’s important to me because no matter where all of us are or where we were coming from, we all make it a point to go to that Christmas Eve at our church.” One of the reasons it’s important, Sharp says, is because it’s a time to spend with family and, “It became more important since my sister left for college and we didn’t see her much, and it’s become even more important now that I’m away from home.” Christmas, especially for college students, is precious time to spend at home with loved ones. Whether you’re sitting on the couch watching the game, baking cookies, or drinking hot cocoa by the fire, the time with family is a principle component of the holiday season.

For a lot of people, traditions are one of the most important parts of the holiday. Roman Jones, however, said he doesn’t really have a set tradition other than watching all his favorite Christmas movies. His favorite part of the holiday is the time spent with family, especially at dinner, “Christmas time brings everybody together. Best part is that relatives of mine that don’t really like each other come together and get along for a short time in honor of the holiday.”

It quickly becomes apparent that the most important part of the holiday wasn’t the presents, or the music, or even the food. As Yasha Ackerman says, “We light a fire and read and talk and try to remember that it’s not about the presents.”

So if it’s not about presents, food, or music, what is Christmas about? For the majority of the population, it seems that Christmas is about spending time with family on the one day of the year where “fight” is practically a taboo word. Whether they like each other or not, for one day out of the year, people put aside their differences to celebrate this one holiday. Whatever the cause may be, Christmas is a time for joy, love, peace, and fun. So as you drink your hot chocolate and throw your snowballs and rush around to find your gifts, take a couple minutes and remember what Christmas truly means to you. In the infamous words of Dr. Seuss, “What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more.”

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