Traditions Return After Disruptions

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By Dezarae Churchill

As the crisp November air sweeps us into the holiday season, we reflect on the past year. COVID 19 came through like a tidal wave, destroying our routines and forcing us to adapt to its uncomfortable demands.

Many of us experienced holidays without loved ones; some grandparents met their grandchildren for the first time over Zoom calls and FaceTime chats. The climate of our world changed in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

With the fresh wounds of the pandemic subsiding, we welcome the return of missed traditions. This semester we have seen the return of live theatre, the NC State Fair, and spectators at sporting events on campus.

Now, the feel-good season is upon us, and many WPU students will be returning to cherished holiday traditions as well. Students gathered for the Tree Lighting Ceremony Nov. 16 on Main Lawn to begin the holiday festivities.

The Nov. 16 tree lighting on Main Lawn was well attended after a year with no public event. Video by Izabelle Dessi. 

Many students are looking forward to large family feasts and exchanging gifts with their loved ones.

Cole Robbins, a junior business administration major, recollects one of his favorite holiday memories.

“I remember walking downstairs and I wanted two things,” Robbins said. “I wanted a gas powered scooter and a sock monkey. The sock money was riding the gas powered scooter.”

Santa hit a homerun that year, and set the bar for Christmases to come. Every Christmas Eve Robbins spends the evening at his grandma’s house and opens one present in anticipation of Christmas morning.

After feasting on traditional turkey, or the occasional “turducken,” his family heads to the theatres to watch the latest release. 

We are never too old to enjoy the spirit of the holidays.

Anne Evans, a junior communications major, appreciates the luxuries that come with adulthood.

A rule in her household is that everyone must eat breakfast before opening gifts on Christmas morning. When she and her brother approached adulthood, her father began waking them with breakfast and an accompanying breakfast shot.

Being a fan of all things breakfast, Evans is waiting with anticipation for the return of WPU’s late night breakfast tradition.

Last year the pandemic threw a wrench in our holiday plans, and WPU junior Taylor Griffith, majoring in sport and fitness studies, knows this all too well. A few days before Thanksgiving last year she found out she had COVID-19.

Griffith is a Florida native, and her father is Ghanese. Her family’s traditional holiday meal is curry chicken served with roti, an accompanying flatbread. While she was grateful to receive a plate, unfortunately she wasn’t able to taste much. 

This year she is looking forward to a COVID-free holiday. Her family is traveling from Florida to stay with her the week before Christmas.

Listen: Dezarae Churchill joins Peace Talks podcast editor Jacob Liddicote in discussing fall traditions.

She will be creating new traditions this year, as it is her first holiday season away from home. Living off campus, with her girlfriend has allowed her the freedom to decorate and celebrate the season in a new fashion.

With travel restrictions eased, many are excited that this holiday season will be more enjoyable. 

Anne Evans hopes to return to her family’s beach house in Florida this year. From a scene out of a holiday film, her extended family meets for a week full of festivities.

Dillon Butler, a junior marketing major, has family in Maine and California. He looks forward to seeing his grandparents this season.

“In 2020 I couldn’t see my grandparents. I didn’t want to risk them getting COVID from me, or the possibility of me getting COVID, so I stayed home,” he said.

Honoring their Hispanic roots, Butler’s family often has traditional Mexican food for Christmas. A couple of his favorites are tamales and enchiladas.

Hands down, his favorite holiday is Christmas. He loves the spirit and the connectedness of the season.

He loves giving and receiving gifts and enjoys the time spent with family.

While we are resilient in nature, many of us found ways to make the holidays memorable despite the lurking presence of the pandemic.

On Oct. 7, WPU SGA hosted their annual Traditions Dinner in the Belk Dining Hall. This celebrates the university’s past with the students being served by faculty and family style meals that were traditionally held in the Hall.

Some of us will be returning to old traditions this year, while others are embracing change and creating new ones. Many wait for this time of year with anticipation, and we are grateful to see the return of memories from holiday’s past.