Christmas’ twelve gifts to college students

Now that Starbucks is using its holiday cups, Barracks Road Shopping Center has hung its wreaths, and the back of Target looks like a Christmas tree forest, I think it is appropriate for me to write a column about why the holidays rock when you’re in college — a whole 35 days before Christmas.

Around the holidays, it is hard to not be a little sad. As a kid, the holiday season always seemed so magical — the decorations, the endless amounts of sugar, being allowed to stay up to see the ball drop on New Year’s Eve and the class holiday parties that took up nearly a whole day at school. The big kicker, of course, was waiting for Santa and trying to be extra good so I would get everything I wanted. Thanks again, Santa, for my Barbie Jeep. It was a great addition to my childhood. If you don’t understand this nostalgia, listen to Faith Hill’s song “Where Are You, Christmas?” and you can understand how people like me romanticize holidays of the past.

When I came to college, I thought I would be extra excited to go home for winter break. And don’t get me wrong — I was. But it was mostly because I was so ready to be out of the basement of Clemons, not because the holidays in Charlottesville were lackluster. In fact, I realized I absolutely loved celebrating the holidays as a college student. So, without further ado, I give you 12 reasons the holidays rock as a college student, one to replace each day in the terrible — or terribly catchy — Christmas carol, “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

There is a built-in excuse to hang up tacky Christmas lights in the common room of your apartment. This is well worth the $8 investment from Wal-Mart. During second year one of my roommates got so into it, she made our other roommate go outside to make sure the decorations looked OK to passers-by. This year my Jewish roommate was more excited than anyone to see them go up, and we’re shamelessly planning to leave them up all year.

You don’t have to stress over which Pandora station you’re going to listen to; it’s obviously going to be the holiday station you’ve created and trained to skip over the mediocre songs and go straight to Michael Bublé.

When it’s too cold to go out on a Saturday night, you can stay in to make cookies without feeling guilty. Get those holiday sprinkles ready!

Three words: “Home Alone” marathons.

On that note: There are so many good holiday movies to remind you of your childhood, such as “Frosty the Snowman” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” that are most likely playing right now on ABC Family. You never have to look too hard to find a good movie to watch while you’re procrastinating. And let’s be real, your roommates probably already have it on.

When you run out of movies, you have to remind yourself of your favorite TV show holiday episodes. Where would we be as a culture without the “Friends” Christmas special, “The One with the Holiday Armadillo,” where Ross teaches Ben about Hannukah, or Seth Cohen’s invented holiday of Chrismukkah and its Yamaclaus?

Black Friday pays off because as you stock up on J. Crew sweaters and $3 DVDs you “can’t live without,” your parents are stocking up on new electronics and need a place to store the old ones. Suddenly, you find your apartment just got an upgrade with a new-to-you television or DVD player.

Real memories are made as you venture to Goodwill and Wal-Mart with your roommates in search of the perfect ugly holiday sweater for one of the many tacky holiday parties you will undoubtedly be invited to. Even though it is a little embarrassing to wear a sweater even your mom would not have touched in the ‘80s, you like it more than you admit because it gives you an excuse to go out dressed in warm clothing.

Your Pinterest has never looked so festive. Even though you won’t make or do 90 percent of the things you pin, guys and girls alike reap the benefits of these pinning efforts as it gives someone you know an excuse to throw a party so everyone can try the newly pinned festive drinks.

Before you head home for break, you get to go to the best part about being a U.Va. student during the holidays: Lighting of the Lawn. There are few things for which I would hang out in freezing temperatures for three hours, but Lighting of the Lawn is worth every minute. Hullabahoos singing holiday songs with hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps in hand? There is no better way to say happy holidays.

When you finally go home, your house is decorated with all your corny handmade childhood ornaments and trinkets your mom still puts out that you pretend to hate but secretly like. And the best part is you escape all the family drama that surrounds decorating for the holidays, including the fight about where to hang the outside Christmas lights.

Then, when you see your extended family, they are generous to you since they understand the plight of being a poor college student. It also becomes socially acceptable to drink at family events, meaning you can take a break from the Natural Light and Franzia and remind yourself what real people drink.

Happy holidays.

Katie’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at

related stories