Winter holidays with WS students and staff: celebrate the season

Jamie+O%27Neill+and+her+siblings+have+been+exchanging+ornaments+since+1992.+Every+year+O%27Neill+gets+a+Santa+ornament+from+her+siblings+and+puts+them+all+on+one+of+her+may+Christmas+trees.

Courtesy of Jamie O'Neill

Jamie O’Neill and her siblings have been exchanging ornaments since 1992. Every year O’Neill gets a Santa ornament from her siblings and puts them all on one of her may Christmas trees.

Abigail Beyene, Entertainment editor

Students and staff are finding ways to bring joy and comfort into this particularly chaotic holiday season, despite the canceling of normal traditions and activities.

Since traveling far to see family during this time is not possible, staying positive and keeping up the holiday spirit can be difficult for some families. Luckily, some holiday traditions are bringing back the joy and comfort into this chaotic holiday year.

“My family and I watch Christmas movies and drink hot chocolate every day for a week up until Christmas,” said sophomore Bethel Telda. 

Telda and her family have been doing this tradition since she was little. 

“We will watch anything that looks good for a Christmas movie,” revealed Telda. “Or we will watch the Christmas classics like ‘The Grinch’.”

The tradition started by accident when the Teldas found themselves watching Christmas movies every day. It became their family tradition after they saw how much fun it was and how it brought them together as a family every night.

Freshman Aidan MacGrath’s family tradition has been going on since she was very young and due to the quarantine they have had to make some changes to make things work.

“My cousins and I do a Secret Santa exchange during the holidays to stay connected to one another,” said MacGrath. 

Although her cousins live in states as far away as Colorado, they still continue this tradition during the quarantine by sending the presents through the mail to one another.

“My oldest cousin is 24, and my youngest is two, but we still have this tradition and plan to keep it going as long as we can,” said MacGrath. 

English teacher Jamie O’Neill and her family are not able to travel back to Green Bay, Wisconsin like they normally do, so some of their usual holiday traditions are not possible this year. 

“We have specific traditions that we do on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after Christmas. So this year it’ll be interesting,” replied O’Neill.

Christmas away from family can be hard, but luckily O’Neill has a tradition that can be done with the people in her home. 

“I go overboard with the decorating. Every room is themed, and I have different Christmas trees in the rooms depending on the room,” explained O’Neill. “This year I went further than I normally do because it’s sad. First Christmas without my parents.”

The decorating tradition was something that her parents used to do, so she kept the tradition as she grew up. 

“I think it’s really important for everybody to make the best that they can out of the holidays, no matter what they celebrate. There’s so much unhappiness, and there’s so much stress and anxiety from everybody, and I think these traditions really bring us together,” said O’Neill.

Senior Emily Rozier and her family have a tradition where they make pancakes every year on Christmas morning. 

“No specific reason [for having the tradition],” said Rozier, “but it does bring our family together after we give gifts, almost like a Thanksgiving feast but breakfast edition.” 

The tradition has been going on for as long as she can remember. 

“It brings us together by having a real moment to sit down and have a calm Christmas morning and take a minute to enjoy each other’s company,” said Rozier.

COVID-19 has made it hard for many families to have the Christmas that they are used to. Luckily, traditions are creating a warm and loving feeling that the holidays are known for. 

 “But if your family doesn’t have one that’s okay,” explained Rozier. “Traditions sometimes happen on their own without us trying to create them, so let them happen naturally, and it will be very meaningful,”