Seeking Solace in Traditions

It was 1:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, and I had just left O’Neill. I decided it was probably best that I go back to my dorm after using my microeconomics textbook as a pillow for the third time. Getting up from my seat, I said a silent goodbye to my comrades, descended the winding stairs, and pushed open the glass door into the cold night air. I was about to head down to Lower Campus when twinkling lights appeared at the corner of my eye, waking me from my sleep-deprived stupor.

There it stood—the Boston College Christmas tree, over 20-feet-tall, blinking red and green and brightening up the cold December night. Instantly, I recalled the tree from last year. It serves as a constant in my ever-changing BC experience.

As I stared at the tree, I thought about the changes that came with sophomore year. When I returned to BC a couple of months ago, I was initially excited about the move from Upper to Lower Campus, happy to finally be in the middle of all the action. But as the year progressed, I found myself missing the safe enclave of Upper. Even more unnerving was all the talk about the year ahead. My friend and I had barely unpacked, and our conversations were already about what house to rent on Foster Street and where to study abroad.

It was probably naïve of me in retrospect, but I had no idea these decisions had to be made so early. Should I go to Ireland for a semester? What about Italy, or perhaps a full year in London? In contrast to first semester of freshman year, when the focus was on enjoying the present, fall of sophomore year was all about change. As a person who doesn’t like change, these impending decisions made me uneasy.

I soon began to realize that change is neverending. Before long, it will be senior year and I will have to start preparing for an even greater adjustment: the real world. Standing outside of O’Neill, I envisioned the next two years of college: a flurry of resumes, interviews, and cover letters, all part of the search for the perfect internship that will hopefully lead to a job offer. Suddenly, I started to feel like I was getting pulled down by the undertow, unable to stay afloat in the tide of growing older. I vigorously shook my head, trying to rid myself of the thoughts that were currently taking over my mind. As soon as I returned my focus to the Christmas tree, a sense of calmness came over me. Thank goodness for traditions.

I have no idea who at BC is responsible for putting up the tree each year, but on that Tuesday night, I felt extreme gratitude. Before this moment, I had never really thought about traditions. Viewing the BC Christmas tree, everything that I loved about this time of year came rushing back to me: the red and white wreaths that have adorned the front of my house since elementary school, the reindeer standing in the same spot on my neighbor’s’ lawn, and the Christmas season staple, the Nutcracker ballet.  How wonderful it is that with all the changes going on in our lives, we can always look forward to the traditions we hold dear.

During this time of year, as you undoubtedly work yourself up into a frenzy over papers, presentations, and exams, pause for a moment to embrace BC’s celebratory traditions of lighting the Christmas tree, placing rows and rows of poinsettias on the St. Ignatius Altar, assembling the nativity set outside St. Mary’s Hall, and stringing garland and hanging wreaths on Main Gate. This will help ground you. And when you return home for Christmas break, if your family has traditions, enjoy them and continue them. If they don’t, I strongly encourage you to start your own, as it is comforting to have these constants in your life.

Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Staff