Holiday Spirit Grows as Student Anticipate Winter Break
by Katherine Wilcox on Friday, December 11th, 2015
The buildup to the holidays is almost better than the holidays themselves. I have always celebrated Christmas, but all festivities this time of year seem to bring equal anticipation. For me, the countdown until the 25th (19 days, 9 hours, 58 minutes, 54 seconds and counting) is infectiously exciting, and it creates a steady momentum that only grows as the day gets nearer.
In my house, we have always used Advent calendars, which happen to be my favorite part of the holidays because they build anticipation for the holidays like nothing else. Advent calendars can be anywhere from 2D pieces of cardboard with boxes that can be scratched to reveal holiday-themed cartoons, to giant boxes with drawers that slide out to reveal full gifts. My family’s fall somewhere in-between. Instead of getting a disposable set every December, we use the same two small cherry-wood cabinets. They each have 25 little doors with numbers painted on them, and every night my brother and I open a door to reveal a small present. This could be candy, lip balm, Christmas crackers, or any other tiny trinket my mom can think of. When we were younger, we used to find little slips with clues that led to a slightly bigger gift hidden somewhere around the house. Now, my brother and I pretty much get fun-sized candy bars for the majority of nights.
However, we can not always open the door. The only way to get whatever is hidden in the calendar is to write the date on a slip of paper and describe something we did to spread “holiday cheer” that day. Even better than the treat is getting to scoop out the scraps of paper in each chamber and reading all our self-proclaimed “good deeds” out loud. Since I was only four or five when we started this tradition, there are bits of paper with “I HUGD MOM” written in really bad handwriting for over half the days in December, 2004. My brother similarly praised himself because he “WENT TO SCOOL.” Those were rejected around the time we actually figured out how to spell, and it is now gratifying to read about how we went out of our way to help friends, teachers, and even strangers. I grant that we were motivated by the calendar to spread joy, but I did persistently have a little voice in the back of my head reminding me to help make people happy throughout December. I think everyone can agree that watching a family-member or friend open a gift you hand-picked for them and exclaiming about how much they love it is almost better than being on the receiving end.
Now, I don’t know if you use Advent calendars or have some other method for counting down to your holiday. You may not even keep track at all, preferring to just wait until the actual celebration. But, I would like to repeat what a brilliant chef at a ramen restaurant in New York once said. Unfortunately, I don’t remember who this chef was, but his words have stuck with me long after I forgot his name. He said, “no wait, no magic.” This chef’s restaurant has a mandatory one-hour waiting period for customers before being served. Then, when the food finally does arrive and they take that first bite, it tastes a hundred times better than if it had been ordered and then served five minutes later. The same result will be true for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, or anything else you might celebrate. So don’t worry if your day is taking an eternity to get here and each hour seems to drag past. That’s the magic.
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