Vritti Goel: Editor-In-Chief
I can't complain about retailers pulling out holiday items before Halloween's over, because holiday season for my family goes beyond just Christmas and New Year's. Part one, or, as I like to call it, Hindu Festival Season, runs from November to January, beginning with Thanksgiving and ending with New Year's.
Our Christmas begins the day after Thanksgiving. Satiated from the pervious night's rich traditional meal and poker-playing, and exhausted from that morning's Black Friday shopping, the six-foot plastic Christmas tree is dug up from the depths of our house, the two large red and green containers of Christmas decorations heaved out to the living room. The assembly of our Christmas tree falls to me every year. As Christmas music blares from my computer, I must decide which tree skirt to place under the plastic legs, I must build it up, branch by branch.
The hardest part is decorating it, because there is so much to put on the tree and so little space. Every year we try to stick to a theme, deciding to use only these ornaments and those beads. As usual, however, our Christmas tree turns into a mish-mash of everything from traditional shiny baubles and metal nutcracker soldiers to family pictures and clay ornaments proudly created in elementary school. A flower star, a few petals missing from use, adorns the top of the tree.
This tree stays up until finally, in the first week of January of the new year, after all the gifts have been opened, critiqued and returned, and the day-after-Christmas and day-after-New-Year’s sales have been perused, we decide it is time for this tree to retire for the rest of the year. And, so, starting at the top with that flower star with its missing petals, and take it down, light string by light string, ornament by ornament, branch by branch, until everything is packed neatly away in the storage containers and placed back in the dark depths they’d initially emerged from, there to stay until the next November.
I spent all four years in high school singing carols with my a cappella group and choir class. Therefore, my favorite songs are the traditional songs sung at this time of year (in multi-part harmony, of course), both for Christmas and Hanukkah:
Stille Nacht (in German)
O Star Oe’r Bethlehem
Still, Still, Still (in German)
Ding Dong Merrily on High!
Carol of the Bells (which is now stuck in my head)
Lauren Prince: Editor-in-Chief
Ever since I can remember, there has always been a place for the little basket on the Thanksgiving table. This basket is home to many secrets. The slips of paper inside have been inscribed—not with gossip, trivialities, or negative thoughts, but with thanks. Each person attending our Thanksgiving dinner—whether it’s at our house or not—is required to write at least three things she or he is thankful for. We then fold them up and place them inside the basket. After dinner, we pass the basket around and pull out the slips of paper one at a time and read them aloud to the group. Sometimes, we even try to guess what each person wrote. Some are sentimental, while others invoke laughter, some can reflect multiple people in the room, others are clearly a reflection of an individual. This tradition, not only makes you think about what you are thankful for, but also shares with the people around you what is most important to them.
My favorite holiday movie is The Miracle on 34th Street—the black and white version, of course. No matter how many times I watch this movie, I love it. Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and all other childhood make-believe characters have such an important place in the lives and imaginations of children. Miracle on 34th Street reminds us all of that, and that it why is it my favorite holiday movie.
Nancy Herrera: Design Editor
My favorite part of the holiday season is the posadas, which I celebrate with my family. Starting December 16, one family member chooses to host the rest of us. We all hold candles and sing a song outside that person’s door, asking for shelter. Eventually we’re let in, and then we pray the rosary and eat delicious food. We do this every day for two weeks, so it is quite a marathon!
Holiday Playlist: “All I Want for Christmas is You” Mariah Carey “
So Merry Christmas” Mihimaru Gt
Tori Mirsadjadi: Senior Copy Editor
My family’s not big on holiday traditions, but when it gets colder we certainly do drink a whole lot more hot beverages. I drink tea year-round, but come December I shift toward more nutty, minty flavors. Orange citrus fruits, nuts and chocolates seem to be more abundant in general once it turns wintery. Which is certainly enjoyable. Winter also means it’s fuzzy sock time. I have quitethe sock collection.
Holiday Playlist: Quite a few of these songs are annoying, but they put me in a festive state of mind nonetheless... ¿Dónde Está Santa Claus? (Augie Rios) Happy Christmas (John Lennon) Holly Jolly Christmas (The Format) Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Zooey Deschanel with Leon Redbone) The New Year (Death Cab For Cutie) The Love Actually soundtrack Silver Bells (not by anyone in particular, I just enjoy singing it in a deep and manly voice) Winter Wonderland (Jewel sings a version with a yodeling interlude, if you’re into that sort of thing)
Megan Petersen: Copy Editor
Santa Bear was a Christmas-themed, plush polar bear that Dayton’s (later bought out by Marshall Field’s and then Macy’s) sold for I think something like 20 or 25 years. The Bears were a bit of a commitment. Each year’s bear was different, so you just had to get the newest one to add to your collection. Furthermore, storage became an issue as the years passed, because the Bears were probably 18 inches tall and weighed a couple pounds apiece. Then in the late 1990s, it was announced that Santa Bear was getting married. Suddenly you not only had to buy the one Bear, but you also had to buy Mrs. Bear, and, eventually, their twin babies.
My grandma had every one, I’m pretty sure. She stored them all year in a huge closet upstairs dedicated almost entirely to Christmas decorations. My sister and I always helped her decorate her house for the holidays, and the Santa Bears were our favorite part. We had to haul all these Santa Bears out of the upstairs closet and pull them out of their protective bags. Then we got to throw them all down the stairs, and jump in the huge pile at the bottom once we were done. We’d play with the Bears for a while (Grandma had enough for an entire city) before arranging them around the house with her other ornaments.
As I got older, I realized the Bears were pretty excessive and thought they were a little silly. Now that my grandma’s gone, though, the multitude of festive polar bears brings my family closer to her. When we cleaned out her house last summer, my mom took most of grandma’s Santa Bears, which means that one day, my storage closet will also be filled with grandma’s love for years to come.
Holiday Movie List: Elf Elmo’s Christmas Wish Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special from the 60s
Anna Petkovich: Design Editor
I’m a sucker for Christmas kitsch. I hardly consider myself a holiday lover, but come the Christmas season, I always fall for it—the music, the lights, the drinks and the food, the movies, the trees decked out with ornaments and the Christmas smell that is some delightful mixture of pine trees, chai, peppermint candy canes and warmth. One of my favorite moments of the holiday season is when I get home from my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve, get cozied up in the new (and usually embarrassing) PJs my grandma always gives me, and turn on the TV to watch Meet Me in St. Louis. It isn’t quite Christmas until I watch Judy Garland sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
Holiday Playlist: “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” Sixpence None The Richer “Christmastime,” Jimmy Eat World “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” Bright Eyes “Christmas Tree,” Lady Gaga
Kate Pluth: Copy Editor
My favorite holiday tradition when I was a child was the entire "Santa Claus" routine. Unlike many families, we opened presents on Christmas Eve, which created a different sense of anticipation. After devouring my family's special Dec. 24 meal of plump shrimp, green vegetables and warm, homemade bread, I would instantly feign fatigue. I knew Santa wouldn't come until I had fallen asleep, so my bedtime became a prompt 7 p.m. on those evenings. Then, in what seemed like the dead of the night, my parents would awaken me with excited whispers that Santa had made his notorious visit. I descended to our living room to find all the incriminating evidence--cookies half-eaten, milk half-drunk and new gifts set at the base of our Christmas tree. I knew these gifts proved Santa's existence, because his elves used different wrapping paper than my parents did. And after all, who would ever think to purchase and hide separate wrapping paper to deceive one's child?
Christmas is not Christmas without Jim Henson's A Muppet Christmas Carol. This adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic tale leaves viewers both cheered to the marrow and laughing their heads off. From the skilled narration of Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat, Ebeneezer Scrooge (Michael Cain) faces the reality of his greed and learns the true value of Christmas--that in giving gifts and gestures of love, one receives the same. In addition, the plot is accompanied by a handful of musical numbers that will keep you humming about the joys of the season for days. I watch A Muppet Christmas Carol every year, and it never gets old.
Charlotte Rosenfield: Design Editor Even though my family is 100 percent Jewish, when I was younger, my family would celebrate Christmas as well, though only for the festivities and presents. It was our tradition to get a honey-baked, spiral-cut ham for our Christmas Eve meal. One year, when my father and I went to pick up our ham from Smart and Final in San Rafael, Calif., we couldn’t find any. There were absolutely none left. Being an emotional youngster, I was extremely disheartened by this and was near tears. In an attempt to soothe me, my father asked one of the saleswomen if they had any more hams in the back of the store. She said that she didn’t have any more for sale, but that she had set one aside for her family and would be willing to bring it out for us. Immediately, I felt horrible. I couldn’t believe how selfish I was for taking away this woman’s ham for her own family. My father gratefully accepted the ham and pulled me towards the register, as I squeaked out a meek “Thank you.” I always tend to remember that moment during the holidays, and consistently give thanks for the wonderful food I am able to enjoy each December.
Holiday Playlist: “Charlie Brown Christmas” “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” Frank Sinatra