Diverse student population shares in holiday spirit

Afsah Khan

When bright lights adorn houses in every neighborhood and decorated evergreen trees peer out from living room windows, students know it’s time to start counting down the days left until the holidays.
A time when the biggest celebrations of the year for many people take place, the holiday season is gleefully celebrated each year with traditions that differ among families. One student, sophomore Sarah Lee, is enthusiastic about spending Christmas with her family and carrying out a tradition she has taken part in for many years.
“[On Christmas Day] we go to Kansas City and on the 23rd [of December], we always go to the plaza in Kansas City and we take a carriage ride, and we go to the Cheesecake Factory,” Lee said. “On Christmas Eve we spend the whole day in the kitchen cooking.”
Lee’s family also has a traditional schedule they follow on Christmas Day.
“We come back and we open one present, and the present is the same every year. It’s Christmas pajamas, and then we always wear Christmas pajamas,” Lee said. “Also, we always have monkey bread on Christmas morning. We get one of those fruit [baskets  from Edible Arrangements].  We have a late lunch in the afternoon, and we open presents.”
But Dec. 25 doesn’t mean such family traditions for everyone. Junior Duha Shebib follows an extremely different schedule during the holiday season. Shebib, a Muslim, does not celebrate Christmas. However, she said Christmas gives her a “warm, fuzzy feeling.”
“We don’t have a Christmas dinner or a Christmas tree. I’ve never gotten a Christmas present in my life. We don’t go out and sing Christmas carols or knock on peoples doors,” Shebib said. “I stay inside and watch Christmas movies.”
Although her faith doesn’t celebrate the holiday season, Shebib says she can’t help but feel lighthearted at this time of year.
“On Christmas Day you’re just happy,” she said. “I feel so bad, but it’s a feeling you can’t control.”
As a Jew, sophomore Hagar Gov-Ari, does not celebrate Christmas either, but agrees that the holiday spirit is hard to avoid.
“I think Christmas kind of gives a warm, fuzzy feeling to everybody, even though I don’t celebrate it,” Gov-Ari said. “Hanukkah is really close to that time. We light candles and sing Hanukkah songs, which is really close to Christmas. Aside from not getting presents, it’s pretty much the same as Christmas.”
Even if they don’t celebrate a holiday during that time or if they celebrate a different holiday than their friends these students agree that the holidays are the most festive times of the year.
“I love Christmas,” Lee said. “It’s my favorite time of the year.”
By Afsah Khan