The Spirit of the Holidays

A photo of wrapped presents underneath a christmas treeWritten by: Ankita Mishra, 2nd-year Medical Sciences

Photo by: Lore Schodts on Unsplash

I’m sure we all have different holiday traditions with our family and friends, no matter how simple or extravagant they may be. I don’t do anything too extravagant but as the saying goes, it’s not about what you do but who you do it with.  

Every year during the holidays, I do secret Santa with my friends, where we all draw one person’s name from the friend group and buy them a gift. In high school, we would write our names on a piece of paper and each pick one. Now, we’re all in different cities because of university, so we use an app called Elfster that electronically draws names for us and we can even upload our wish lists onto it. My friend group has all types of people when it comes to making a wishlist-. we have someone who always just wants a gift card, so now we have made a “no gift card” rule to make the process more fun. Or the ones who say “I’ll like anything you buy me.” Then there’s me, who is the complete opposite. I specifically say not to buy me things I don’t ask for and even the things I do ask for, to kindly include a gift receipt. In the past, someone got me something I didn’t like and I tried my hardest to act like I like it but let’s just say...I could never become an actress. A scene that describes me from one of my all-time favorite shows, Friends, is when Rachel receives a gift and is asked if she likes it. She says she does. Then she is asked if she’s going to return it and she replies with, “Not right this second.”

Now let’s be honest, secret santa often ends up being not-so-secret halfway through, or in my friend group at least. Once we draw names, most of us can’t engage in normal conversation any longer. There’s always the “I know you have me” and the “I have so-and-so...I’m kidding...or am I”.  One year, all my friends decided to trick me into thinking one person had me when really, it was someone else. This is what happens when you miss school for one day: everyone plots against you.       ​

We always do the gift exchange at one of our houses and each person has to give a description of who they have and we all try to guess who it is. Alternatively, we look at the gift each person bought and try to figure out if it’s ours depending on the shape and size of the gift that seems to match anything we asked for on our wishlist.

In the past, our gift buying process has never exactly been the best. Once I started looking for the gifts so late that one of them didn’t even arrive in time. I am so bad at online shopping that one year I was ordering a pair of pants for my friend and instead of ordering a women’s small, I ordered a girl’s small. Luckily, I was able to return the pants and get a refund...minus the $7 shipping fee. Now, my gift buying skills have improved. I make sure to check my cart ahead of time and plan ahead so I’m never scrambling to find items last minute. In fact, I have already ordered my secret Santa gifts for this year a month early!

At the end of the day, the years of unsuccesses have turned into lifelong memories that we can always laugh about. The holidays may not always be “perfect” per se, but I am sure everything that happens can either be a learning moment or a moment that seems straight out of your favourite sitcom.

Additionally, I have yearly holiday traditions with my family as well. Each year, we take a drive down Old Scugog Rd in Bowmanville, Ontario. All the houses on this street decorate their lawns with lights for the holidays, and many cars drive by to view them. The lights are so magical that I feel like I’m being transported to the North Pole with Santa and his helpers. I also decorate a gingerbread house with my family; there are 4 of us and we’re each in charge of decorating one part of the house. None of our designs end up matching, so it looks like a very abstract house. My sister and I stay up all night and watch Christmas movies while eating popcorn and drinking hot chocolate. Some of our favourite holiday movies include Elf, the Home Alone Series, The Princess Switch, and The Christmas Chronicles.

As you can see, my holiday traditions are quite simple, and only involve a few people but they are still memorable nonetheless. I hope that reading about my holiday traditions made you excited for yours in the coming few weeks. Before we know it, our exams will be over and we’ll all be sitting in front of the fireplace with our families, drinking hot chocolate and creating lifelong memories.

Check out more festive blogs:

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Christmas Edition

Navid reflects on Christmasses passed and shares his most cherished holiday memories.

Celebrating Eight Days of Hanukkah

Learn about the history and traditions of Hanukkah.

How to Connect Virtually with Family During the Holidays

With the ongoing pandemic, we continue to have to alter our ways of connecting with loved ones.

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