Christmas Memories

Christmas Memories

"Have a holly jolly Christmas!"
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As a little girl, I loved Christmas. Christmas meant that our house was going to be decorated from top to bottom and that Christmas music would be playing 24/7 in the house and in the car. It also meant that there would be two weeks of winter vacation. The day after Thanksgiving was always the day that decorating and holiday festivities began. We had an entire half of our attic just dedicated to Christmas stuff.

Every year, we went to a Christmas play/musical put on by our family friends' church called 'Glorious Christmas Nights.' If you're from Richmond, you probably know what I'm talking about. The play always put all of us in the Christmas spirit.

My mom was the Christmas fanatic. We had a fake tree we put up in our sunroom. That tree had the non-breakable ornaments on it, which was important because our two cats would attack the tree and the tree skirt every year. We would sometimes have a train going around it. There was always a little Christmas scene on top of the piano. In our family room, my mom decorated the mantel with a wreath, our stockings, and little Christmas trees. Even the dog and the two cats had their own stockings. Then, in the living room was our live tree. We went to the YMCA or The Great Big Greenhouse to get our tree every year. I always wished we could get one of the really tall trees, but we had to settle on a 6' or 7' tree. It was always the best night ever when we turned the Christmas music on and decorated the tree. We had about three or four 'Baby's First Christmas' ornaments. By the way, I was an only child at the time. My mom always insisted that we put an ornament I made in kindergarten on the tree. It was a purple, paper mache ball that had a gold bow on the top. It was definitely not a pretty ornament, especially because when I popped the balloon on the inside, it broke part of the ornament. The smell of the Christmas tree would waft throughout the entire house.

Every Christmas Eve, my grandparents, my mom, dad, and I would watch the Celtic Women sing on T.V. I was never very interested in it, and just wanted to fall asleep. I usually did on my grandmother's lap.

The best Christmas ever was when I walked downstairs on Christmas morning and saw a brand new bike sitting there from Santa. That was the number one thing on my wish list that year.

Every year, my grandmother and I would make homemade "candy canes." Now these weren't the typical hard, peppermint candy we all know and love. No, these were way better. They were mashed up cranberries, bits of orange peel, grinned up pecans, and apple juice all wrapped in homemade dough. Then, we would form them in the shape of a traditional candy cane. One year my grandmother had made three or four dozen of these before they came into town, and my dog being the foodie she was and still is, jumped up on the counter and ate about ten of them. Every Christmas morning, we ate the candy canes, banana bread made by my dad, and German Stollen from the bakery downtown.

The first thing we would do was go into the family room and unpack our stockings. The cookies we made for Santa would be all gone and he would write me a letter back from the one I wrote him the night before.

After stockings, we moved into the living room where we opened our Christmas presents one by one. It usually took close to two hours because my family had to completely analyze each gift. I was guilty of this too. I wanted to rip the Barbie out of the box immediately and play with her. I wanted to charge my Nintendo GameBoy to play my new game.

To this day, I love Christmas very much, but my favorite days are the days leading up to Christmas where all the stores are playing Christmas music, all of the Christmas movies are playing all day, the malls are all decorated for Christmas with the enormous Christmas trees, the weather is getting colder, and holiday cheer is being spread every where. That's Christmas to me.

Cover Image Credit: Crazy Frankenstein

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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The Struggle of Taking Classes During the Summer

It can put a bit of a damper on summer fun

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To everyone reading: I hope you're having a nice, relaxing summer. Even if you're working I hope you can get a few days off to hang out with friends, go to the beach, and have some nice downtime. Not me. I am currently in the process of completing two four-week long summer classes. I'm taking them now to get ahead for next semester and to keep my overall schedule on track. It certainly isn't fun, but the reminder that it is only four weeks is what really keeps me going. If you are in the same boat as me, you'll relate to this list like no one else can; if you're not taking summer classes, don't let this list scare you, but use it to mentally prepare yourself for any you may have in the future.

1. Studying and homework

The homework isn't too bad with some summer classes just because you don't have time for a lot of intense projects. Still, since the class is so short you have to do some kind of homework pretty much every day. Make a schedule and spread it out so you don't get too behind.

2. Actually going to class

I am in two classes. One meets in person every day from 10 am to 11:45 am. The other is online. Let me be the first to say that getting up for class during the normal semesters is hard enough, but knowing my little brother gets to sleep in while I have to wake up early and go class is a real motivation suppressant.

I will say, though, it's kind of nice being on campus when it's basically empty.

3. No going out...

You'll probably be a little down because you might not be able to really go out at all during the time you're in class. For me, I go to lecture every morning, come home and do homework for that class, then do homework for my online class. I have some free time on the weekends, but I try to use those lecture-free days to study or work on papers.

4. But being super busy

Even though you might not be able to go out like a summer off, you'll be keeping yourself busy with all that super fun homework I mentioned.

5. Stress

Yes, summer classes can be a little stressful and it's pretty much all thanks to how fast-paced they are. Just do what I do: make a homework and project schedule as soon as you can and remind yourself how short it is.

Summer classes are not the worst thing in the world, and if you choose to take one at some point it won't be absolutely horrible. The nice thing about them is it's like ripping off a Band-Aid; it may be a little painful and annoying, but it's over so fast you don't suffer. Pick your class and professor wisely and get down to business; taking the class means you're one step closer to graduation!

So, to anyone else taking a summer class: good luck and you got this!

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