As I sit in my room and try to think of the interesting things I did over winter vacation, I realize how much has changed in a few, short weeks. I spent three months in England, traveled to five countries and learned so much along the way. But now I am back home in California, enjoying the sunshine and looking forward to my next semester in La Verne.
Winter break was relaxing and much needed. With a few weeks off, I was able to catch up on everything I missed while I was gone. I caught up with friends from La Verne, my family, and all of those In-n-out/Chipotle trips (yes, I’m serious.)
Since it didn’t feel like Christmas in England, I took the five days after I got back to surround myself with all things Christmas. I went to the Christmas tree farm and got my first real tree ever, went to the Mission Inn’s Festival of lights, baked a ton of festive cookies, and drove around looking at the best decorated houses.
Eating the best homemade donuts at a Christmas festival.
Since La Verne has a January Term- a four week mini semester where students can take up to five units- I don’t start classes until almost February. So I am going to enjoy my free time, move into my first apartment and prepare for a crazy and exciting Spring semester!
How was your winter vacation?
Until next week,
After the finals I took a long four hour drive back home to Las Vegas, Nevada. To be honest, i needed this vacation after the stress of studying (more like cramming) for the exams! This holiday was very enjoyable, but what is the best part about each year, well besides Christmas with family, has to be the New Years. Each year my family throws a giant party in our backyard with lots of food, drinks, people, and enjoyable live entertainment via a cover band started by my brother and I. This year was sort of weird, since now I’m not part of the band, so I watched the performance in it’s entirety. The best part of this was being able to see my friends again talking and catching up with them. Being surrounded by people I love and who love me makes the season so much more enjoyable and was a great break after the stress of the final exams. Now I’m back, and I hope I can re-adapt to not being home. I’ve enjoyed my classes so far, and i hope it will be the same next semester. I love this school so far, and I can’t believe i already finished my first semester so far.
This winter break I traveled back home—30 minutes down the 210 freeway—to celebrate Christmas with my family. While all of our traditions played out the same (decorating the tree together, listening to cheesy Christmas tunes and baking at 3 a.m.) I think this had to be the most adult Christmas of my life.
In my family, there has always been a type of controversy over “What Christmas really IS”—like, whether it is okay, ethically, to tell your kid that Santa Claus is real or not, or whether or not the phrase “Happy Holidays” is offensive, or if the season of giving is just a big scam to get people to spend ridiculous amounts of money during their last minute panic buy—and no matter how you feel about the season, these critiques and concerns become more pressing as we get older. Like I said, this was my most adult Christmas ever.
I found that I wasn’t stressed out over buying everyone on my list the perfect present, but more because I realized it wasn’t just about Santa and cookies and presents anymore, it was about political correctness.
I was raised in a household that celebrated Christmas, and I was devastated when I figured out that Santa wasn’t real. Like honestly, truly, when I started crying about it and my mom hugged me, I was really confused why the same person who had lied to me was comforting me. It was kind of traumatizing in a way. I wasn’t sure why my parents had lied to me all these years, and why they had allowed me to look stupid in front of the other kids at school—younger kids than me who told me that Santa wasn’t real against my insisting. Good one, mom and dad.
I recently saw a story posted on Facebook about a mom who transitioned her kids out of the myth of Santa by sitting them down and telling them that now they were “A Santa”: someone who secretly gifts things to people who they feel really need it.
The mom was using this idea of ‘you are now Santa’ as a way of telling her kids that Santa is more of an idea than a person, without explicitly saying it. However, when I read the post, all I could imagine was my own mom trying this on me, and how, probably, it wouldn’t have eased the pain.
As much as I love the memories of believing in Santa (leaving out milk and cookies and the next morning finding more presents under the tree and full stockings over the fireplace), my memory of discovering he wasn’t real trumps them all (which also shattered my belief in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, really, it is amazing I didn’t have a full blown mental breakdown). And, as much as I would want my future kid to grow up believing in magic, I really cannot picture myself lying straight to their face, or later, having to break the news to them.
Sometimes I wonder if raising my future family on Christmas alone is even a good idea.
Traditions are great and everything, but growing up, it was just Christmas in my home—I don’t think I even knew Kwanza was a thing until my freshman year in high school. I think that at least some exposure to other celebrations and traditions would make the phrase “Happy Holidays” a lot less “threatening” to my future kids (since it seems to be threatening to quite a few people), and help them to really grasp the importance of inclusion and equal representation of everyone’s beliefs.
As for Christmas being a scam: who cares? I mean, a scam that pressures family members, friends and even distant relatives to finally take time off and visit one another once a year is a pretty thoughtful scam. As long as everyone remembers that no matter what holiday you celebrate, as long as you celebrate it with love and honesty, the spirit of the season will live on, and will not be clouded by the advertisements, sales and department store brawls (I mean seriously, when is everyone going to realize that Cyber Monday is far less stressful than Black Friday where people literally lose their lives for TVs?)
So even though my winter break and my Christmas ended up being far less magical than I remember, it instead became a time of reflection, thoughtfulness, delicious food, reminiscing, fuzzy socks and fireplaces, cheesy Hallmark movies and spending time with my family and cats!
Hello my lovely readers, or should I say, “Hafa Adai!” I hope you all had a wonderful holiday break. I’m currently still in break mode, since I decided for the first time not to take the January intercession term at La Verne. I made this decision because as I sit here typing this week’s blog post, I am at my home in Guam, spending precious time with my family, and catching up on all of the things I’ve missed since I’ve been away. I worked my butt off last semester, taking a full load of classes and working long hours to be able to save up enough money to come home for the holidays and surprise my family. Unfortunately, my father and sister found out I was coming home, so I couldn’t surprise them. My mom, however, was completely surprised, and her reaction was worth all of the stress I went through this past semester. She embraced me with a warm hug, and from that moment on, I was able to take a breath and just enjoy being home.
(Me and my mom going on a morning walk by the beach.)
As much as La Verne has become somewhat of a second home to me now, Guam will always have my heart. I never thought I would come back to Guam after college (I was always, and am still, the type to want to travel everywhere and experience all the world has to offer), but I could never shake the feeling that Guam was calling me. Now that I’m back home, I remember all of the beautiful and wonderful memories I have of Guam, and all that my island has given me. Since I’ve been back, I go out and enjoy the fresh island breeze and the natural scenery almost every day—whether it’s walking along the beach, hiking, or even just going for a drive. My two favorite things to do here are to spend quality time with my family (I absolutely took that for granted before I left for college) and exploring my island.
(A breathtaking view from a spontaneous adventure.)
When I first decided to major in Anthropology, I wasn’t one hundred percent sure I was going to pursue work back home. But, now I can say wholeheartedly, I want to take back what I’ve learned from my time at the University of La Verne and use it to pursue a career in cultural preservation. I want to do this as a way for me to keep Guam exactly how it has been for all the years I ‘ve been fortunate enough to experience living there. I’m excited for what the future has to bring for me, and for my island. But for now, I’m going to enjoy what’s left of my “extended holiday break” before heading back for the spring semester.
Alrighty folks, here’s your first question of the week for the new year!
What did you do over your holiday break?
I would love to hear how your holidays went, so please feel free to leave a comment. I’ll see you all soon!
I am now in my last week of studying abroad in England, and I cannot believe how fast the time has gone by. It has truly been an amazing experience, and I encourage everyone to take their college’s opportunity of studying abroad. I’d like to share a few of the reasons I believe everyone should study abroad. Plus, maybe it will help you get your mind off of finals for a while.
- The People: I have met amazing people from all over the world. We bond through our differences, and now I have a very diverse group of friends. It is so interesting to hear about their lifestyles and culture, all while getting to live it.
- Independence: You will gain a new sense of independence and confidence through study abroad. I never thought I would be able to plan a weekend trip to Paris and figure out the transportation to get there without help from my mom. You will have to navigate foreign situations, and once you do, you will feel like you can do anything.
- Food: Of course, my favorite part of traveling is the food. Yes there is McDonalds everywhere, but there are so many new cuisines to try. Indian food, Jamaican food, REAL Italian food, and so many more are out there waiting for you to experience them! Nothing is better than eating a French baguette from a bakery under the Eiffel Tower.
- Culture: Although I am studying in England which is very similar to America, it is amazing to adapt to a new culture. I have been living like the British for three months now and I will keep some of their traditions with me forever (putting milk in my tea, mostly). There is an entire world out there, and I didn’t want to stay in my small Southern California bubble forever.
- Memories: The most beneficial part of studying abroad is the memories that you will make. Of course, studying at your home University will give you great memories as well, but nothing like the ones you make in new, exciting places. You will definitely remember the time you stood outside of the Colosseum in Rome in the pouring rain, over that frat party you went to.