From Fireside to School Bus: Colorado College Student Holiday Traditions

By Isobel Steenrod 

The holidays are a time to celebrate the end of the long year behind, and to prepare for the new year to come. Traditions can be passed on for generations or created anew. For example, for two years in a row now, my house has lost power for Thanksgiving due to windy storms that move in the week beforehand. So, my family’s new tradition is to chop wood and sit in front of the fire until the electricians come. Having the whole family hanging out in one room all week is a little interesting, to say the least.

The holiday season comes with many different types of traditions, so I asked some Colorado College students about their favorite or unique holiday traditions. 

Sarina Chalmers ’21 spends time with her family: “We go down to Florida to visit my Grandma over winter break. On Christmas day, we go to the swamp and eat shrimp,” she said.

The Chalmers family also celebrates Hanukkah as part of their holiday tradition. “Every year my mom buys everything she needs for the house, like scissors or computer cleaner, and then she gives them to me and my brother as Hanukkah presents,” Chalmers said. “Sixteen useful gifts!”

Food traditions are always popular. Everyone seems to have that one dish that will always remind them of home. 

“One of our holiday staples is frozen fruit salad. We have it at my grandparents’ house, and it’s made of sour cream, pink Jell-O, cut up pieces of fruit and maraschino cherries,” said Maddie Strasser ’21. “It’s so good! Actually, it’s so good.” 

Sam Bower ’21 has a unique tradition that may or may not make its way into my family. “We always eat pie for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving,” he said. “Either pumpkin pie, which I make with my grandma using her grandma’s recipe, or Derby pie, which is like pecan pie with chocolate chips, except way better.

Baker Casagrande ’21, known for being the beatboxer of The Back Row acapella ensemble, sings a lot of Christmas carols with his family, but also celebrates in other ways. 

“Growing up, my family would drive us around in the car to look at all of the holiday light displays,” Casagrande said. “We loved it and started printing out awards, like Best Display, and would go up to the houses that we really liked and hand them the piece of paper that said ‘Casagrande Award.’ Different houses would remember us year after year and prepare their light décor in order to win an award. My family and I loved it, and it got to be such a tradition that one year we had 30 people and rented a school bus to drive around and hand out the famous Casagrande Awards.” 

Traditions are a way of bringing people together, year after year. One of my favorite traditions is doing Secret Santa with my cousins on Christmas Eve. It’s pretty much the only time all year when we are all together. The gifts we give each other are typically somewhat nice, but anytime a significant other joins us for the first time, their partner says to get a gag gift. When it’s time to trade presents, everyone watches the newbie get nervous as they see all the cousins unwrapping sincere or homemade gifts. It might be a little bit mean, but it’s our way of testing their sense of humor. 

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