Back home in Texas, the Christmas season always started just after Thanksgiving. That is when the radio stations started playing holiday music on my commute to school. The Herbert E. Butts Grocery Store began to put out red and green frosted cookies. There were Christmas parades where the city of Los Fresnos would wrap Ford F150s in Christmas lights and enlist them to pull floats down the main street, holding plastic baby Jesuses in mangers. Being at home for those weeks leading up to December was like seeing holiday cheer placed in a pressure cooker.
The high level of Christmas spirit I always saw at home has not been present during my time at school in Boston. Listening to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” on a loop while drinking coffee with eggnog in it somehow feels less festive in the basement of Mugar Library. The lack of Christmas decor at BU is quite real and becomes more prominent in the parts of campus characterized by broody, brutalist architecture (I see you, GSU). It is easier to feel unforgiving about such things when you do not see our PVC lord and savior in nativity scenes on every corner with a church.
I have come to the conclusion that when I am away from homemade tamales of home, I will have to actively pursue Christmas. It is very easy to feel like the holiday season is slipping away while I study for finals. Some of my friends begin to celebrate the holidays sometime in late October. I thought this was because Christmas feels a bit diluted while on a college campus, so you need to start early to make up for it. I mentioned this after Thanksgiving and my friend responded by saying that she begins Christmas hype early simply because she does not hate herself.
I believed that coming to school in the North would increase the Christmas spirit; there would be actual snow and I could wear mittens without getting clammy hands. Now, however, I find that it feels most like Christmas when it is around fifty five degrees and the sun is still up, like it is during a Texas December. It is possible that Christmas feels less festive because I am not at home until days before the holiday. Growing up, you get to experience the fun buildup to December 25 with your family. You eat the cookies made in your kitchen and decorate the tree sitting in your living room. You learn the Jingle Bell Rock dance from Mean Girls with your sister. Your parents come see your holiday concert at school.