For college students, the end of the year sometimes brings feelings of loneliness
The war on Christmas has been raging on with John Stewart and Bill O’Reilly exchanging volleys over holiday issues, like Wal-Mart’s record profits underscoring the savagery that is the annual battle of Black Friday: tasers included. Most people have a different definition of Christmas. For us college students, Christmas and the holidays have a much different meaning.
If you’re a college student, then it probably means homesickness, especially if this is your first holiday season away from home. It also means you probably eat ramen and are broke as hell. This means the commercialization of the holidays doesn’t mean much to you.
What happened to coming together on the holidays and being with people you care about? It’s still there. For college students, specifically the ones that do not go home for the holidays, they find other solutions.
For those who miss presents, there are quite a few white elephants that occur around this time with the various groups on campus, so you can get that Christmas morning present experience. Sometimes, however, these gifts can humorously cause a Black Friday flashback, with people fighting over the more desirable gifts, like a Dr. Who T-shirt.
Students of Jewish faith have been unlucky this year as Hanukkah ends before the semester does. So, Jewish students (unless they don’t care about their grades) can’t visit their families without missing classes. For those who celebrate Hanukkah, Hillel — the Jewish organization on campus — had a Menorah Lighting in Pida Plaza to bring people together.
Also this year, some students were not able to leave due to the semester coinciding with Thanksgiving. “Orphansgiving,” as my one friend named it, is when students come together and pitch in to have a Thanksgiving for those of us who don’t have a family, or can’t, for whatever reason have Thanksgiving with their families. It’s not the same as home, however, it’s a time for friends to be there for each other.
During my first “Orphansgiving,” I made friends that I still have to this day and probably will for the rest of my life. As for Christmas, which is only a few weeks away, many students (especially those in the dorms) will go home for the holidays. For many of those who either live here and not at home, or can’t go home for the holidays, Christmas is especially trying.
We won’t have classes or tests to distract us from the importance of the holidays like we did with Hanukkah or Thanksgiving. But this is an opportunity to come together and make friends that perhaps, can last for a lifetime.
If there’s one thing about the holidays that has meaning to me with the holiday spirit is that it’s a time to come together and be there for one another. Whether it’s the famous Christmas truce of 1914 that brought soldiers from both sides of No Man’s Land together to exchange gifts and sing carols.
A simple “Orhpansgiving” in a friend’s home during the holidays is a time to bring people together. As college students, we face the stress of studying and finals, the emotional rollercoaster of dating, the looming and ever-growing burden of student debt and the prospect of few jobs available at graduation.
Despite these things, the holidays are a time when we can come together and for just a few fleeting moments, there is a bit of happiness as we all reach out to one another.
So, as I personally wish the students and faculty of UNLV happy holidays, let us remember those of us who don’t have family to go home to this Christmas. If you can make an effort to make them feel at home, or if you invite them over to be with your family, I ask that you do. If they’re like me, then you’ll have their gratitude for a lifetime.