by Stephen Lynch
New York City brings a different holiday experience from most places. From the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center to the lit-up Christmas lights decorating the streetlamps, New Yorkers can experience something unlike anything else. When walking down the streets the slushes from the half-melted snow and the rings of the Salvation Army bells are heard. You can see the pine trees huddled almost as close as the New Yorkers on the MTA. Don’t forget the everlasting and crisp but refreshing frigid winter air. Although everyone in New York lives in the same place, everyone’s experience is vastly different. Some believe that it is a season of family time and happiness, others believe that it is just an excuse to be exploited for money. Curious to find out what people thought about Christmas spirit, I asked students at Brooklyn College Academy what it means to them.
When you think about the Holidays what comes to mind? The food? Family? Maybe even gifts? To Jasmine Santiago, the holidays are about who you spend it with. She says the main factor in her mood is who she spends it with. “Your time is only going to be as good as your company.” Santiago also talked about how it is her pet ferret’s first Christmas and she is stoked to see how they will react to the Christmas Tree she’s going to make. Although you might not have people to spend Christmas with, who says ferrets can’t be company as well?
Some students express their opinion about what they think about the holiday season, and how the festivity and chance to relax is more than enough to love the holidays. Sashan Harris explains how the sleep and food she gets brings her happiness. She wishes the entire month of December was a break from school, just so she can get a chance to relax and live her best life. She didn’t forget to mention the infamous White Christmas and how she loves snow, “If it ain’t fully snow it ain’t snow; I like ice skating but not ice on my snow.” It looks like Harris had a few bad experiences with snow, but she doesn’t let it get the best of her.
When interviewing another high school student the response was pretty similar, although Cameron Lee didn’t mention the snow; he said that getting sleep is the best part of the holidays. Lee wishes for longer breaks as a student, he wishes the Christmas break was two weeks so he could have more time to destress. Lee also mentions how Christmas spirit uplifts him, and others having it allows him to “vibe along with them.”
Aaliyah Moore mentions how her favorite part is taking a break from everything she’s doing. “I like spending time with the people I enjoy hanging out with.” Moore continued and said how hanging out makes her relaxed and makes her holidays like this memorable.
“I think about my family, gifts, and nostalgic memories,” said Deanna (Deanna preferred to have her last name omitted). Deanna feels extremely connected to holidays such as Christmas; her and her family all work together to set up the Christmas tree and it’s extremely memorable to her. She remembers putting her personalized ornaments she made in elementary school and it makes the holiday very special to her. Items such as a candy cane ornament with her picture on it and a stocking with her name with glitter on it make it memorable to her. Although Deanna’s birthday also lands close to Christmas, never once did she mention how happy she is to open gifts. She instead talked about her family and how fun it is to spend time with them, and also how good the food is. She says the food is something that is something she looks up to when nearing the Christmas season. The cranberry rice made by her aunt is something she can’t forget. In addition to all of the chicken, cookies, and mac and cheese, Christmas time not only means family time but also feasting time.
The holiday season isn’t just gingerbread cookies and candy canes. However, some think that the holidays can bring lots of good but they can’t help to focus on the negative aspects of it. “I think about sorrow because of all the poverty that surrounds me,” When asked about what they think about the holidays, Franca Palmer says she loves the creativity surrounding Christmas but can’t help but think about those who aren’t as fortunate. When she is on the bus, in the train station, and even in the nail salon, she mentions how she sees less fortunate people struggling to even survive on the streets. Palmer expands on why she is so sorrowful, she says she can’t think about anything other than how she can’t do anything right now to help them.
“Home is people, not a place,” Palmer stands by this when creating her future organization in helping struggling kids. In this organization, kids would be able to do secret Santa’s, play games, tell stories, drink hot chocolate, watch movies everything they want to do. She talked about her future and how she wants to try and start an organization where kids can help her experience “Christmas that is shown in movies.”
“I feel like the holiday season can be a force for good or evil,” says Barrington Foster as he can’t help but feel uneasy about the Holiday season. He explains his statement saying that Christmas can bring people together and help make others feel better. Foster says it’s easy to smile along with the other people, but behind those smiles, there is a whole other side to the Holidays.
“With the monetary values companies can exploit people and it targets families and I think it’s wrong.” From all of the Christmas themed drinks and items to buy to the gift-giving attitude that is basically forced upon everyone it becomes stressful for some. Foster says a season surrounded by happiness could easily turn into a sham if you don’t have money. “I feel that Christmas is a drug, it’s euphoric.” With this he continues to throw more shade at Christmas, “I think people need to stop putting emphasis on things; you should be happy with what you got. It’s about being happy with the people around you, not the stuff you get.”
Gifts are something that’s fun for people of all ages but no one seems to talk about how gift-giving is the only part of Christmas to most people. It should be more along the lines of making and creating new memories with friends and family. That’s the Christmas spirit: It’s not about gift-giving but what you can you make out of it.