by Abby McDowell & Trinity Tran, EDITORS
19 December 2017
THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR
It’s Christmas Eve.
The fire is crackling, the tree is decorated with handmade ornaments and flashing lights, and the stockings are hung ready to be filled with gifts. Handwritten letters to Santa are left on coffee tables along with a plate of warm cookies that Mom made sure to make fresh that night.
For the students of Oswego East, the celebration of Christmas can be simplified into two ways: a celebration where it is integral to keep the ‘Christ’ in Christmas or a celebration where religion plays no role.
A MATTER OF FAITH
“I think Christmas can bring this universal happiness to people. I see it as a time of year, where it doesn’t matter if you claim to be religious. It just matters that you find happiness in it in some way, whether that is spending time with family or getting closer to God,” senior Sarah Panek said.
Although not every student celebrates Christmas to get closer to God, those who prefer a secular Christmas over a religious Christmas do not discredit those who choose to celebrate Christmas differently.
“I’m not a religious person, and my family aren’t very actively religious either, but I still see the merit in having such a powerful force driving people to reunite often. Feeling truly blessed isn’t something I believe I’ve ever experienced, but I can imagine on such an important day everyone sitting at the table would feel something powerful had united them,” junior Sean Martin said.
Religious or nonreligious, there remains to be a trend that Christmas is a time for appreciating your loved ones.
“For me, Christmas is appreciating all the things God has given me, including his son Jesus. It’s about appreciating my family and friends and all that they do for me,” Gretchen said.
Senior Gretchen Koomjohn and her mother emphasize the importance of family along with the importance of Christ as they participate in a family prayer before Christmas dinner.
“What I look most forward to is spending time with family and remembering how important Christ is in my life. I look forward to the entire month of December as I truly love the season of Christmas,” Paula Koomjohn said.
While Paula and Gretchen Koomjohn stress the importance of family during the holiday season, religion is an integral part of their celebration during Christmas, so they focus on participating in activities that, they feel, reminds them of the importance of God.
“During the month of December we receive consistent reminders of the importance of God and Jesus in our celebrations. This is done through church services, evening dinner time, advent readings, and symbols of Christianity,” Koomjohn said.
“Feeling truly blessed isn’t something I believe I’ve ever experienced, but I can imagine on such an important day everyone sitting at the table would feel something powerful had united them.”
— junior Sean Martin
FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY
While many students enjoy the season of Christmas, they can also see that how the commercialization of the holiday has clouded the true meaning of Christmas.
“I think industries capitalize on Christmas. People see all the commercials and advertisements, and they almost feel obligated to celebrate Christmas the way it’s portrayed on TV. It’s kind of thrown in their faces, which takes away from the family aspect of it,” senior Ben Fenzil said.
Considering that families spent $465 billion on Christmas gifts last year, according to a report published by ABC News this year, the students’ claims that big businesses tend to take advantage of the holiday season by having huge and excessive sales were right, yet some, didn’t mind that the commercialization of Christmas is so large.
“I don’t really mind the commercialization of Christmas but I wish that the media would focus a little more on promoting good morals not just advertising what we should buy. I think that sales and stuff aren’t as important as spending time and appreciating your friends and family,” sophomore Andrew Le added.
Martin added that too didn’t necessarily see the commercialization of Christmas becoming a problem as long as common sense was used.
“Because there’s not too much I want to buy around Christmas time anymore, I just see the advertisements and the commercial atmosphere as another cheer filled part of Christmas, another reason it’s impossible to be discouraged or unhappy during Christmas break,” Martin explained. “It’s the responsibility of the parent to know their limits financially when it comes to gift giving, although generosity is a virtue, there’s a thin line between generosity and complete stupidity when it comes to paying vast sums of money on one day.”
Some students said that the commercialization of Christmas tends to draw attention away from the “true meaning” of the holiday as society gets lost in the chaos of the price tags on their purchases for their friends and family. However, this “true meaning” was different amongst the students as religion played a major factor in what they found meaningful about the holiday.
“To me, because I am Christian, I really do believe the true meaning of Christmas is the birth and the life of Jesus Christ,” Le said.
For a non-religious student, they found meaning in being able to put aside mundane worries of everyday life. As the end of the semester creeps up and finals approach, the pressure of a heavy academic workload takes a toll on students. Martin explained how Christmas to him, is a time for rest and revitalization. People who are usually stressed out become happy as they focus on preparing for reconnecting with their family during one of the best holidays of the year.
Despite being religious, Gretchen found similar solace in the holiday season as she illustrated how Christmas is a stress reliever for her during this difficult time of the year.
“This time of year is especially hard and stressful academically, so I love going home after practice and seeing all the lights and hearing the Christmas music my mom puts on and smelling those Christmas scents she sprays around the house. It helps me get through a dragging part of the year,” Gretchen said.
Whether the students felt that Christ was missed during Christmas or Christmas served as a holiday for family, what Christmas means to somebody cannot be dismissed or viewed as less valid.
“You can’t put a value on being grateful. Just because you do something in the name of God, doesn’t give it value,” Fenzil said.
Abby McDowell & Trinity Tran are editors for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the HOWL