Tag Archive | "Christmas"

A very merry non-traditional Christmas


Christmas is just around the corner — but not for everyone. Some students and faculty at Indiana Wesleyan University celebrate the holidays (or don’t) differently than their peers. Here are some of their stories:

James DeffenbaughJames

James Deffenbaugh (fr) never questioned if Santa was real – because his mom told him the truth from a very young age.

“I knew about him, we just knew he was a fictional character,” Deffenbaugh said.

She had intriguing logic behind this. She was worried if her kids were told Santa was real and then later told that he was fake, this could jeopardize their belief that God was real. When he was nine or 10 years old, Deffenbaugh told a few still-believing kids on his swim team the truth about Santa.

“My swim coach told me to stop a few times, and then I had to have a talk with my mom,” he said.

Deffenbaugh does plan on telling his future kids the truth about Santa’s nonexistence.

“I feel like my mom has a valid point. If you tell your kids Santa’s real and then a few years later say, ‘No he’s not’, they could think the same thing about Jesus Christ,” he said.

 

StephStephanie Lamb

Stephanie Lamb (jr) is celebrating her first Christmas this year with her boyfriend and his extended family. Her parents never celebrated Christmas.

“It’s tied to a pagan holiday,” Lamb said.

As explained by Lamb, when Constantine was spreading Christianity throughout the Roman empire, the pagans had a winter equinox feast where they worshiped a god with pine trees. Constantine decided that by picking winter as the time to celebrate Jesus’ birth, they could extinguish the pagan rituals.

“For my family, there’s nowhere in the Bible that says we should celebrate his birth, and all the gift-giving, the wreaths, the trees, the lights — it’s not biblical at all,” she said. “They didn’t want us to grow up confusing and meshing pagan origins with Christ.”

This is mostly a personal choice by her parents, who met at a church that believed the same. The family attended this church until Lamb was 10. They also don’t celebrate Easter.

On Christmas day, the family always eats dinner at home together. Lamb and her sister started a tradition where they rent and binge-watch library movies, since they had an extra day that the library was closed.

“My family was never offended if someone said ‘Merry Christmas,’ and we would say it back, we just don’t celebrate it,” she said.

She thinks she will probably celebrate Christmas with her future family, but pull back and make it less consumerist.

“It’s Jesus’ day, so we should focus on Him,” she said.

 

Sameer YadavYadav2

Dr. Sameer Yadav, assistant professor for the John Wesley Honors College, and his wife are raising two young boys: Noah, who is five, and Ezra, who is two. Noah is very inquisitive, so when he started hearing about Santa at school, he had a lot of questions.

“We could tell he was having a hard time distinguishing between what we told him about Jesus’ birthday and the Santa Claus schtick,” Yadav said.

Yadav tried to tell him the true story of Saint Nicholas, but Noah had trouble discerning the truth from the story.

“We put Santa solidly in the fairytale category,” he said. “To this day now we’re having the problem in kindergarten where other kids believe in Santa Claus and Noah is the obnoxious Santa Claus unbeliever.”

What was most important to Yadav was for Noah to be able to understand the difference between real things, fake things and fictional things, which are purposely fake for the intention of describing and understanding truth.

“Santa Claus screws all that up, so I wanted to disentangle it,” he said. This is a concept for a five-year-old, but Yadav thinks he’s getting it. “[Noah] will say things like, ‘Santa Claus teaches us about giving, but he’s not real,’” Yadav said.

While the Yadavs don’t give Noah and Ezra gifts “from Santa,” Noah knows that is what other parents do, and he has asked Yadav to put a present under the tree “from Santa” for him.

 

LarisaLarisa Kuehn

Larisa Kuehn (fr) and her family celebrate Christmas a little differently, mostly because they do everything a little differently.

For most of her life, her parents were missionaries in Bangladesh, where they ran an orphanage while raising her and her three siblings.

“We’d have this enormous Christmas party, so much good [Bengali food], like 200-300 people, [and] my mom would make like 600 Christmas cookies,” Kuehn said.

They spent Christmas day together as an immediate family, decorating a plastic tree. Although it was never below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the kids would bundle up in their winter jackets and drink hot chocolate.

Although they heard about Santa, being in such a different culture, they didn’t fall quite as easily for the stories.

“We didn’t have a chimney, so how could he get in?” she said.

She spent a few Christmases in Germany with her dad’s extended family. In Germany, most everyone Kuehn knew celebrated three days of Christmas, attending Christmas plays at a Lutheran church and visiting German markets. Her German Christmas in fifth grade was her first time seeing snow.

Now her parents are in China, so they spend Christmas in Thailand. They rent a bungalow, decorate palm trees and make sand snowmen.

“We always have a really big seafood lunch on the beach,” she said.

A Thai tradition, they light floating lanterns on the beach with locals. They also have a gingerbread house-making competition and vote amongst themselves to find the winner.

 

Adrian HowkinsonAdrian

Adrian Howkinson (so) and her family also don’t celebrate Christmas.

“Jesus was born, but it definitely wasn’t during this time, and the fact that we don’t celebrate that is because Christmas is actually a pagan holiday,” Howkinson said. “We don’t try to make it what it’s not.”

They spend intentional time with their immediate family, and her mom makes Christmas candies for all the neighbors.

“What every kid likes about Christmas is the presents, and we still did that, just probably not as much as most families,” she said.

The Howkinson family also has a special Christmas tradition of their own: “We go see a movie on Christmas Eve at the movie theater because there’s never anyone there,” she said. “Lately, it’s been ‘The Hobbit [1 and 2].’”

She’s not sure if she’ll celebrate Christmas with her future family.

“I understand the fact that we don’t have to do [a traditional Christmas] just because everyone else does,” Howkinson said.

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Box Office break-in


When the operations manager of the Box Office, Hannah Oberlin (alumna Dec. ‘12), came into the office for work at 9 a.m. Dec. 3, she found the Christmas setup in the Phillippe Performing Arts Center lobby destroyed, according to Chrystal Beard (jr), box office manager.

Of the four trees that were originally there, one was completely gone and another was lying on the ground in the space between the interior and exterior doors.

The Christmas setup in the main lobby of the PPAC before the break-in. // Photo by Chrystal Beard

The Christmas setup in the main lobby of the PPAC before the break-in. // Photo by Chrystal Beard

Several ornaments were scattered on the ground and some were thrown into the trash, along with one of the tree-topper angels, Beard said.

The set was cleaned up and the Christmas trees were moved around so it looked better with three trees instead of four. When Beard came in for work at 10 a.m., she re-hung the ornaments that had been thrown into the trash back on the trees.

“I just tried to spruce it up a little bit,” Beard said, “because it looked super sad.”

Beard said they didn’t know if it happened Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, or if students or Marion locals committed the act, because there was a children’s choir performance in the PPAC Tuesday night. The choir consisted of elementary and middle school students from the community, whose parents came to watch them. Beard said they also don’t know how the guilty party broke in.

“It was just really sad, because we put in so much work to put all that up,” Beard said. “We have an entire Christmas party set up around decorating. So it was just really sad today.”

An official investigation is currently underway, according to Beard.

 

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“Let me introduce you to … Christmas favorites”


If you’re anything like me there have been several things on your mind since Thanksgiving break, the first being finals, the second being how excited you are to get virtually no sleep the rest of the semester, and the third thing is how pumped you are for the lack of sides at Wildcat Express.

Wait, you aren’t excited for those things?

Good. Me neither.

The real thing that has been on everyone’s mind is Christmas and Christmas break (and maybe a passing thought about finals here or there).

I think it took all of five minutes after my roommate and I returned from Thanksgiving break to set up my mini-Christmas tree and decide that we needed more Christmas decorations. Somehow, in the course of the past four days, we have decorated my closet door with stockings, wrapping paper, a penguin, a “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” gift bag and a gift tag off my stocking.

There’s just something about Christmas that gets people pumped up.

And I love it.

Christmas somehow seems to make everyone happier and more cheerful. Which, after I typed that out and re-read it, sounds so cheesy and corny, but it’s true.

This is a total A.D.D. moment, but Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe” Christmas song just came on, and that makes talking about Christmas even better.

Anywho, I could list all the things I love about Christmas, it would be an incredibly long list but I could totally do it.

Here we go!

Brightly colored lights, ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas, the old school claymation movies, the stockings currently hanging over my fireplace at home, spending hours decorating the Christmas tree so it’s just right, buying Christmas presents, taunting other people with my knowledge of what they have for Christmas…

You were worried the rest of this column was going to be a giant “I love Christmas and this is why” list, weren’t you?

Looking back at my list it seems a little shallow, doesn’t it? It does to me. But there is one thing that I hold highest on my list of favorites.

I wish I could somehow hold suspense better in a column

I absolutely love going home for Christmas. Not only do I get to see my family I get to go to work. I work in a grocery store during winter break, which occasionally stinks, but it also provides me with an opportunity to be super-cheerful to other people, and I love it.

You would not believe the crabapples that walk into grocery stores. But that’s an entirely different story.

There are so many more smiles that are shared and greetings. Heck, I’ve even gotten hugged while working at the grocery store.

It’s like the holidays make people truly happy. What is it about Christmas that makes us so joyful?

As I grow up I realize, besides the bright lights and “Frosty the Snowman” I really enjoy putting a smile on people’s face. When I see other people happy because of something I said or a present that they love, I get this insanely goofy grin that I can’t wipe off. I love seeing people happy, I love being around people period, but seeing them happy because of something I did for them is even better.

I’m not the only one that loves being around people. One of the Athletic Department’s administrative assistants, Melody Leckron, loves spending time with her family.

Cheerleading head coach Jordan Elder loves being with her family and “getting to relive the memories from the year together.”

So I ask again, what is it about Christmas that makes people so cheerful?

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Home for the holiday


Most students here at Indiana Wesleyan University travel back home for the holidays, but those who live internationally don’t have that luxury.

Denny Wongosari (sr) was born and raised in Indonesia, where his family still lives. He has mainly stayed with friends for the holidays since coming to college. Wongosari said he “house-hops” all around the country.

“It’s a good experience because one break, I’ll find myself in Michigan and on another break, I’ll be out in California,” Wongosari said. “It’s pretty adventurous.”

Here in the United States, Wongosari said Christmas differs from how people celebrate it in Indonesia. Since he lives in an Islamic population, only certain people celebrate Christmas. He said that the people who do celebrate it really focus on the true meaning of the holiday.

“Meanwhile here, it’s more like general and secularized sometimes,” Wongosari said. “Sometimes people say, ‘Oh Christmas, that’s a good break and all about Santa Claus, Christmas trees and shopping.”

After growing up in Kenya, Betty Tonui (so) came to the U.S. six years ago with her foster parents. For holidays, she stays with them in Springfield, Ill. Coming to this country, she said that the coldness of the States during holidays has been an adjustment after living in Kenya. Like to Wongosari, Tonui sees a difference between Christmas tradition in comparison to Kenya.

“I like the way they celebrate Christmas,” Tonui said. “In Kenya, we don’t really celebrate Christmas like the way people do here. It’s not exchanging gifts that much. It’s just thinking about Jesus. I know that people think about Jesus here, but it’s about taking presents as well.”

Luke Dubert (jr) also lived in Africa while his parents served as missionaries, more specifically, Quelimane, Mozambique. Dubert said Christmas breaks have not been a problem because his parents were in the U.S. his freshmen year as well as this year, but the other breaks have been a bit of a challenge. Over these holiday breaks, he has stayed with a roommate, lived in a faculty member’s house alone and gone with friends to North Carolina for a spring break trip.

“I really wish they would allow us to stay over Thanksgiving break and spring break or Christmas even like they do at Hogwarts,” Dubert said. “Because that would be a party.”

According to Melissa Sprock, director of housing operations, all of the residence halls close for students who live in the U.S. as well as internationally. Although, she said if an international student needs housing, he/she can submit a form to student development, which can find a host home for them.

“It’s not a rule in that nobody’s here, but probably because of the length of the break, we would prefer to do host homes over someone just staying [on campus] for the holidays,” Sprock said. “Who wants to be alone for the whole holiday?”

In addition to student development, Tony Stevens, associate director of admissions, helps international students find arrangements for housing if they need it as their international student adviser. So far, he hasn’t heard of many students this year who haven’t already found housing.

“Most students have their own plans and like to get out of Marion for vacation,” Stevens said.  “Some will go home and others will stay with family, friends, college friends, etc.”

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