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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

The end of ~spooky season~ has officially brought us to the holiday season. I myself am guilty of jamming out to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” a mere two days into November. And while I know it is early, Starbucks introduced its holiday drink menu on November 6, so officially it is acceptable to act like we’re in December. 

Growing up, I never understood the hype about the holidays, which may have been due to the fact that I did not celebrate Christmas. Sure, I knew about all things Christmas and the winter decor vibes, but the overall elaborateness seemed irrelevant, and I ignored the changes around me when the time came. 

However, my perception of the holiday season changed a few years back when my best friend mentioned how excited she was that December was approaching. According to her, that meant festive decorations, lights, and holiday-themed cups and drinks at Starbucks. That year, I decided to be more attentive to annual changes with the hopes that I would gain some insight on why people love the holiday season so much and perhaps attain my own sense of fondness towards the festivity around me. 

As the holiday rolled around, I took note of the lights and wreaths that adorned every store along with the endless repeat of Christmas music everywhere I went. I paid more attention to Starbucks’ limited-time Caramel Brulee, Peppermint Hot Chocolate, and Salted Caramel Mocha beverages served in cups with Christmas-patterned designs. Even though I had observed these things around me my entire life, I made a greater effort to appreciate the spirit of the holidays. 

Not surprisingly, the overflowing festivity inevitably grew on me. The holiday season is so much more than what I once perceived and I have learned to love aspects of this season that I once brushed off. I have come to realize that the holidays serve as a time for me to catch up with friends, those in town and returning for winter break, whether it is through gift exchanges or ugly Christmas sweater-themed parties. I have learned that Secret Santa can mean so much more than a simple gift exchange because finding the perfect gift and seeing the smile on the recipient’s face is a different level of joy I have experienced. Even the Christmas music playing everywhere has grown on me.

One of the most important things I have noticed is that the holidays are a time for us to break out of the monotony of our daily lives as we add extra flair through decorations, take time out of our schedules to find a gift our peers would appreciate, and host gatherings to reconnect with friends to end the year on a high note. The small changes around us that last for only a month or so (perhaps two for those who decorate right after Halloween ends) serve as a reminder to appreciate the small things as we do not know how long they will last. This time of the year inevitably reminds us to appreciate the beauty around us in our journey as opposed to merely focusing on the destination, which in this case is Christmas itself. More than the holiday itself, it is the festivity and anticipation that people look forward to because they feel a sense of joy and peace as another year wraps up. The nostalgia of reflecting on the past 12 months reminds us of the good times (and the bad) as we gather with our loved ones to make some final memories before another year begins. 

On that note, I hope you’ve started thinking of a pandemic-friendly winter bucket list (hopefully one that includes baking Pillsbury Christmas cookies)!

FRIENDS lover (the TV show and the social thing), US history fanatic, world traveler, and can typically be found eating spinach artichoke dip and tacos when not drowning in pre-med studies