Upcoming holiday season uplifts spirit in students, staff

December 2, 2014 — by Spring Ma and Eileen Toh

With Christmas and other holidays just around the corner, many teachers and students have begun their annual preparations for the upcoming season.

In October, sophomore Julia Vita was already strutting down the hallways, confidently showing off her bright red Santa hat adorned with green embroidered lettering spelling out a “Merry Christmas, Eh!” slogan. As she walked to the beat of “Jingle Bell Rock,” Vita wished people “Happy holidays!” accompanied with a preceding “Ho Ho Ho!”

Her premature enthusiasm, however, was not mirrored by her peers. Vita received looks of confusion and disapproval as her friends groaned, already accustomed to her quirky Christmas obsession.

For Vita, festivities begin three months before the actual holiday season, just as her birthday decorations are taken down in September. Vita and her family replace their usual furnishings with Christmas lights, “countdown to Christmas” signs and festive quotes scattered around the house.

With Christmas and other holidays just around the corner, many teachers and students, like Vita, have begun their annual preparations for the upcoming season.

This year, sophomore Jessy Liu and her friends are coordinating their fifth “Secret Santa” gift exchange, a tradition started when they were in sixth grade at Redwood Middle School.

At the beginning of November, she and 12 of her friends created a spreadsheet, where participants filled out their wish list of one food item, a small gift ($10) and large gift ($20).  

During the week before finals, the randomly assigned “Secret Santas” will deliver gifts to the lockers of their “Elves” over the course of three days. The Santas will be revealed on the last day, when they deliver their large gift in person.

“We wanted to do the gift exchange during dead week because it’s kind of like good luck for the upcoming final exams,” Liu said. “I love Secret Santa because it brings us together as friends and allows us to bond.”

Teachers, similarly, are no exception to the holiday spirit.

I get into decorating the house with my family,” history teacher Matthew Torrens said. “[We use] about 20 strings of lights on the roof, 15 on the bushes and another 10 on the eaves. Kills our PG&E bill, but it looks good.”  

For many, such as history teacher Kim Anzalone, the holidays are not so much about the gifts and feasts rather than the time spent with relatives.

“[On Christmas Day] both my husband’s side and my side of the family meet for Christmas dinner at my house,” Anzalone said. “I always play the guitar, my husband the drums, my son Keegan the bass, and my brother-in law the piano. We always sing Christmas carols and play pool until dinner is ready.”

Similarly, Vita’s Christmas anticipation and enthusiasm stem from her love of spending time with her grandparents, who visit from Michigan once a year at Christmas.

“[Every Christmas,] while my grandma and I would be making candy cane and reindeer-shaped Christmas cookies together, my dad, brother and grandpa would pick out the tree,” Vita said. “When they come home, everyone gets together and works on decorating the tree and the whole living room by the fire. It’s a bonding experience like no other.”

For Vita and others, the holiday season represents a carefree and loving time.

“[The holiday season] goes beyond Christmas for me,” Vita said. “Everyone always seems happy, and even if you don’t celebrate the holidays, there are always things like blanket drives that give back to those in need. People forget about themselves and are always out to help each other.”

2 views this week