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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Holiday traditions

    Every family has a few holiday traditions – some are fun, some are touching and some are just bizarre. A few of the Wildcat columnists sat down to describe their own families’ favorite seasonal traditions. Read on, and you may just find something worth starting in your own home.

    When I think of Christmas, I think of Jack Daniels.

    Every year, without fail, my mom heads to Costco before Christmas Eve and buys a ginormous plastic bottle of Jack Daniels and wraps it in a way that does nothing to disguise its shape. Christmas Eve comes, and the bottle is toted along and put under the tree at my Grandpa’s house. There we have some unconventional dinner that our Grandma puts together. The kids – even those in their 20s – still sit at a separate table from the adults and gossip about what kinds of presents everyone can expect the next morning at Christmas Part II. After too many chocolate-covered peanut butter balls, everyone heads into the living room to open our presents from the grandparents. Without fail, the bottle-shaped present is always the last one under the tree to be opened by my grandpa. He feigns surprise and laughs at the fact that it will take him another year to finish the damn thing. He heads off to the kitchen and makes himself a Jack and Coke. When he comes back, we sit around the fire and laugh at stories we’ve told a hundred times with a faint scent of Jack Daniels coming from Grandpa’s cup.

    Vanessa Valenzuela is a junior majoring in international studies and economics.ÿ

    Although there are only two of us in my family, and we’ve lived in many places, there are still holiday traditions that we maintain. That way, no matter where we are, each year connects to past ones.

    My favorite tradition of all is our tradition of lighting a candle. Every New Year’s Eve, my mother and I light a tall bayberry candle together. We let the candle burn through the night and into the next morning, until it stops burning by itself. I’m not sure where the tradition came from, but its beauty lies in its simplicity. This isn’t a tradition about food or shopping; it’s a tradition about fire and light, which are older than the holidays themselves.

    The candle’s burning through the night symbolizes the ending of the old year. But the light the candle gives represents the beauty that is gained through the passing of the old year. The candle tells us that we should not regret the fact that time is passed.

    Most of all, I know that life will be different in future years. Many things may change, but it would be a strange future that had no room for the small tradition of lighting a candle.

    Lillie Kilburn is a psychology sophomore.

    It’s always amusing to see how traditions change over time.

    Take, for instance, my family’s once wholesome tradition of making hot chocolate, stringing up popcorn strands with needles and thread and gingerly placing dozens of holiday ornaments on a freshly cut Christmas tree.

    Now that my siblings and I are older, though, the traditions seem to have lost their luster. We now prefer generously spiked apple cider to hot chocolate. We’ve abandoned the popcorn after a bloody incident of SUI (stringing under the influence). And instead of hanging the ornaments, we’ve now taken to sitting on the couch and throwing them at the tree, half-heartedly hoping they’ll hit something and catch, or at least fall where they won’t be noticed (the same method we seem to use for writing college research papers).

    Yet when my siblings and I gather at the cider pot to add a little more brandy, or when we all manage to land ornaments simultaneously from across the room (a phenomenon we’ve taken to calling a “”Salim””), it’s hard not to feel the good old Christmas cheer of childhood lore. So kick back and enjoy the eggnog; after all, a new semester is just around the corner.

    Damion LeeNatali is a senior majoring in political science and history.

    My great-grandma was an excellent cook. From angel food cake to casserole green beans, this lady knew her stuff.

    But out of all the great things she cranked out of that kitchen (even right up to the age of 92), I will never for the life of me understand why all those decades ago, it was the oyster stew that became the Christmas tradition. Come Christmas morning, she would pull out that big pot, throw in all of three ingredients (oysters, butter and milk) and start stewing. Every single year, she would make that damn stew, and every single year no one would eat it. Except for my dad. But he’ll eat pretty much anything. Now that my great-grandma has joined that kitchen in the sky, there is no moreÿoyster stew at Christmastime. As my family gathers for the holidays, there isÿalways someone who inevitably comments that “”it is too bad Gigi isn’t here to make her oyster stew.”” But the truth of the matter is that we are secretly glad there are some traditions that die.

    Courtney Smith is a senior majoring in molecular and cellular biology and anthropology.

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