Take a moment and close your eyes. Reflect on what Christmas is to you. What do you think of when you hear the word “Christmas”? Do you see a tree with twinkling lights and lots of presents under it? Do you imagine yourself dressed in your Sunday best going to church with your family? Are you thinking of sitting next to the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate (and marshmallows!… don’t forget the ‘mallows’) and enjoying a Christmas classic with your family? Or do you imagine all the home cooking and start to smell the aromas of homemade meals and baked goods? Whatever may come to mind, everyone shares many different traditions and experiences over Christmas.
Christmas was, and still is, a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus, but it has become a worldwide tradition enjoyed by many from all different backgrounds. This holiday season differs per religion, but in general it is pretty festive in America. For those who are not religious or do not attend church regularly, are more apt to think of Christmas as the tradition it has become over the years. Decorating the tree, singing songs about Santa, exchanging gifts, watching classic holiday movies, and baking all the sweets from recipes passed down. These are just a few things most people might reminisce about when discussing their Christmas traditions. While living in community, the meaning of Christmas and the holiday itself means more and really humbles oneself when going through this experience.
In community, we do the basics, picking out a tree (even though it usually looks like the tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas), decorating it together, baking our favorite homemade goods from our family recipes, and watching the classic Christmas movies. What makes Christmas in community so different is learning from the Brothers the meaning of Christmas and partaking in Advent. Though I am Catholic, I do not have a very religious background, therefore making last year my first time partaking in Advent. Outside of Advent, living in community over the holiday season opens one’s eyes to see all the different backgrounds and traditions everyone in community has and is willing to share with one another. Christmas in community is seeing the joining of traditions from everyone in the house and the discussions around the table bringing everyone closer together through shared experiences.
Christmas in my community is celebrated from December into January. Since most of the community goes their separate ways surrounding the days approaching Christmas, we celebrate the conclusion of the holiday season on January 6th, which is Three Kings Day. On this day, we gather and invite over close friends of the community to celebrate and host our annual tradition of a gift exchange. Christmas in community has been one of my favorite experiences yet, and I cannot wait to experience it one last time this year.
Jazmine Cole is a second-year Lasallian Volunteer serving at Serviam Gardens (a senior housing center) in Bronx, New York. She is a 2017 graduate of Arizona State University.