Now that the last essays have been written, projects have been submitted and final exams are graded, students are making plans to travel home for the holidays to find relief and comfort after a long and challenging semester.
“It’s definitely gonna feel like a breath of fresh air going home,” Grant Hernandez, a finance sophomore, said.
This holiday season is coming at a time when COVID-19 is ravaging through people's yearly traditions. With holiday tunes resurfacing at the top of Spotify and Apple Music playlists to bring some sense of normalcy back to the world, students, like Hernandez, just want to replace school agendas with family tradition.
Due to his work schedule, Hernandez is not exactly sure when he will get the chance to drive home to Spring, Texas, for the holidays, but he is ready to cherish the opportunity when it arises.
“My parents usually work on Christmas Day,” Hernandez said. “I mean, I’ve had Christmas on the 24th before, I’ve had it on the 26th before. It honestly just depends on all our schedules.”
Although the plans to celebrate on Christmas are not always set in stone for Hernandez and his family, he says they make sure to maintain their small annual traditions such as handing out presents from under the tree.
Others, like nursing sophomore Taylor Jordan, are looking forward to holiday recipes, a change of taste from food consumed on a college-student budget during any given semester.
“My grandparents on the other side of my family are Hispanic,” Jordan, who spends holidays in Splendora, Texas, said. “So on Christmas Eve, they come over and we get to eat tamales and Menudo.”
In fact, Christmas Eve has grown to become the most eventful part of her family's yearly tradition.
“Every Christmas Eve, my family and I watch 'The Grinch' and sit around drinking hot chocolate,” Jordan said. “My mom buys icing and decorations so we can make homemade cookies all day.”
With younger sisters, Jordan’s family continues to keep the Santa Claus mystery alive every year. Before going to bed, her family puts up stockings for Santa to fill and leaves food out on the sidewalk for his reindeer to eat.
But this year, while preparing for rooftop visits from Santa's sleigh and trying her best to keep the spirit of the holiday season, Jordan also realizes COVID-19 may take away a tradition dear to her heart: A trip to her great grandmother's house.
“My great-grandma is in her 90s and she’s super scared of [COVID-19],” Jordan said. “We might have to opt from visiting her, just for her safety, or she just might not want us to come either.”
Janee Bailey, a biology pre-med junior, says she is making a trip to Atlanta during the break to visit her parents. After enduring busy work and school schedules, Bailey says she is excited for the chance to visit her family for a few weeks.
“My mom makes this New Orleans pecan candy, rice crispy treats [and] sugar cookies,” Bailey said. “We even buy gingerbread houses and treats, so my family and I decorate them and have a gingerbread house contest.”
The holidays for Bailey’s family are mostly consumed by spending quality time together. They celebrate on Christmas Eve with a big holiday dinner and wake up early the next morning to open presents and watch movies in their pajamas.
Although her family originally had bigger plans to celebrate Christmas, they plan to follow others and try their best to remain safe. Instead of traveling to Florida like they originally planned, they plan to just spend the holidays at home.
“Although we normally do more for Christmas, I’m excited to go home, be in a different state, and zone out after this semester,” Bailey said. “I honestly think it’ll be a good break from everything.”