Transitioning from Thanksgiving to Christmas

Northwestern has already begun decorating for Christmas (photo courtesy of Maggie Noble).

by Jenny Miyano

Fall leaves covered in snow. People bundling up and wearing snow boots. As University of Northwestern–St. Paul students, faculty and staff are pushing through this semester, working on final projects and presentations, many look forward to Thanksgiving break, and perhaps get in the Christmas spirit.

Amy Kalan, a senior communication studies major, shared that the transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas for her family usually happens the day after Thanksgiving. Kalan said, “We put up the Christmas tree together and start switching out the fall décor.” As Christmas gets closer, they plan out the food and decide if they will be celebrating the holiday at their house or their cousins’ house.

When it comes to listening to Christmas music in the house, Kalan’s family has a rule that they do not decorate or listen to Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving. “We want that time of the year to be so special,” said Kalan, “so we enforce that rule to make sure we do not get bored of the music and décor before we celebrate the holiday.”

She said that out of her family she is definitely the most enthusiastic about Christmas because it has always held so many special memories for her. “It is something each of us look forward to every year,” Kalan said. Kalan mentioned that she gets into the Christmas spirit the most when she is by the fireplace and it is snowing outside. She said, “I will crank up the Christmas music and just enjoy the magical look of the snowflakes as they fall from the sky.”

Kristina Matthias, Student Life’s office coordinator of spiritual formation and leadership, shared the transition from a different perspective. Matthias explained: “Growing up, my parents did not do a lot of decorations for Christmas or have any rules around it. Now that I am building traditions with my husband, we have made up our own ideas about when we listen to Christmas music and decorate.”

She shared that it involves more intentional family time than the actual preparations for Christmas. Levels of anticipation for Matthias grow higher as Christmas gets closer. She usually “gets into the Christmas spirit” after the day following Thanksgiving, especially if it snows. Matthias said, “Though I am not a Grinch, if others get into the spirit before then, I don’t bring them down. Realistically, we are celebrating the birth of our Savior; that can and should be celebrated throughout the year.”

Matthias gave some examples of what that looks like for her and her family: “Decorating the tree, making Christmas cookies, cleaning the house for guests [and] time off from work and school. It’s generally more time together.” The season of transitioning from Thanksgiving to Christmas has changed for Matthias as she went from being a student, to being single and now being married and living away from her parents. “That’s the beauty of creating your own family. You build something together with the one you love,” Matthias said.

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