A college Christmas story

This year, USD put a Christmas tree in the middle of the Paseo de Colachis Plaza overlook for students to enjoy.

Taryn Beaufort | Opinion Editor | The USD Vista ​

Perry Como sang it best, “There is no place like home for the holidays.” Some University of San Diego students may agree with Como, but instead most will be studying away for finals until Dec. 22 — only three days before Christmas Day. This however does not interfere with USD students’ ability to celebrate the holiday season.

Junior Andie Zaharias-Kern, from Northern California, can’t help but feel nostalgic for her family’s Christmas traditions she misses while in school. She shared how she feels about getting out for winter break so late and not being able to spend time at home.

“It is disappointing that’s for sure,” Zaharias-Kern said. “However, I still do almost everything I would do at home, but there are some things that just are not the same. We have an Advent calendar where my mom puts little gifts in for us everyday and we have an elf on the shelf that moves around every night to tell Santa if we were good or bad. Could you imagine if I filled my own Advent calendar and moved the elf for myself? No, that would just be ridiculous.”

Even though Zaharias-Kern would rather be at home for the month of December, she has discovered new ways to bring a little bit of home to San Diego.

USD invited carolers to attend their tree lighting to bring more holiday cheer to campus.

“It is definitely different when I am at home with a fireplace and our stockings, the Christmas tree with the ornaments, and all that stuff,” Zaharias-Kern said. “But I try to watch the same Christmas movies as I would at home and I try to listen to the same Christmas music constantly.”

Being on her own for the month leading up to Christmas has allowed Zaharias-Kern to develop some traditions of her own to compensate for the ones she is missing from home.

“Christmas is my favorite time of year, so you bet I’m going to bring Christmas to my school-home,” Zaharias-Kern said. “I always get a Christmas tree, a wreath, and lights — those three are key. This year, my roommates and I have a night planned to decorate the tree and Christmas-ify our apartment. It’ll make it feel a little more like home.”

Zaharias-Kern believes that any student can still engage in Christmas activities despite being away from home.

“It’s just the little things,” Zaharias-Kern said. “Like for me, it’s making cookies with dough already made. You can have a hot chocolate party with friends, you can make a gingerbread house, have a Christmas party where everyone has to wear an ugly sweater. You can choose to celebrate Christmas.”

Senior Madison Samuels is fortunate to live close enough to  USD that she can drive back anytime she wants to enjoy the comfort of her own home in Orange County.

“It’s a bummer we get out so late but I’m not too bothered by it because I can still go home on the weekends to enjoy my family’s Christmas tree and decorations in the meantime,” Samuels said. “I’m lucky in that way. But what about other students who live on the East Coast or international students? They don’t have that same luxury to just pop in at home.”

Samuels mentioned USD’s effort to make the campus more festive for students and faculty. Within the past week USD has enhanced the campus aesthetic with holiday decorations and a lighting ceremony for the tree in Paseo de Colachis Plaza overlook.

“I think they [USD] do a wonderful job decorating the campus,” Samuels said. “It looks so magical with the lights, wreaths, and Christmas tree. All they need to do now is play Christmas music around campus.”

Some students choose to decorate their apartments with Christmas decorations to make it more festive.

Students don’t have to stick around campus to engage in holiday-themed activities. Samuels said the city of San Diego offers lots of options.

“Last year I went to the December Nights at Balboa Park and I highly recommend it,” Samuels said. “It’s really festive and it’s free so it’s something easy for all students to go to.”

Now that Samuels has her own apartment, she takes advantage of the opportunity to make traditions of her own.

“My roommates and I are going to get a real Christmas tree and decorate it with ornaments and lights,” Samuels said. “Having a real tree really makes all the difference. You know, every morning I wake up to the fresh smell of a Christmas tree and I don’t feel like I am missing out on so much.”

Senior Payton Dwight finds that enjoying the Christmas festivities can be a little more difficult when away from his NorCal home.

“I used to feel the festive spirit a bit more when I was home for a longer period of time leading up to Christmas,” Dwight said. “I would help pick out the tree, eat a chocolate from the advent calendar every morning, watch Christmas movies, and just enjoy the various decorations at home. I could do much of this here [at school], but it’s not quite the same without my family, and I’m also too lazy.”

Dwight believed that the short gap in between the end of finals and Christmas Day leaves little time to enjoy the season.

“Christmas can feel abrupt when we’re taking finals all the way up until the twenty-second,” Dwight said. “I just created a Christmas radio station on Pandora and have been enjoying some Mariah Carey and Bing Crosby to help me get in the spirit.”

As he gets older, Dwight realizes the importance of taking time to celebrate on his own.

“Make the most of it [Christmas],” Dwight said. “We’re young adults now and it is our responsibility to keep the spirit of Christmas alive. Enjoy the magic of the holidays and spread good tidings.”

Being at school is probably not the most ideal way for students to spend the month leading up to Christmas. However, with a little planning and motivation Toreros can still celebrate the most wonderful time of the year despite having classes.