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A 'happy holidays' sign hangs on a door in Sargent Hall on West Green, Dec. 3, 2023, in Athens.

Bobcats stay in the Christmas spirit

When one grows up celebrating Christmas, many traditions and expectations make the holiday season exciting and fun. In college, being away from home during the holidays can be difficult. Students shared some ways they bring the Christmas spirit into their lives while being at school.

Olivia Urlage, a sophomore studying fashion merchandising, shared an idea for a dorm decorating activity with friends.

"I really love arts and crafts," Urlage said. "The other day, my friends and I cut out snowflakes, like you did in elementary school, and we hung them up in our bathroom and made our lights red and green."

Cutting out snowflakes is a fun activity and decking out your dorm with Christmas decorations can turn one's home away from home into a winter wonderland. Additionally, making paper snowflakes is more affordable than buying things in a store. 

Jordan Appelhans, a freshman studying biological sciences, recalled family traditions she misses during this time of the year. She has found it difficult to incorporate Christmas into her life at school.

"I live in Northwest Ohio and we've already gotten snow at home, but we have not gotten any snow here," Appelhans said. "It's definitely harder to get into the Christmas spirit when I'm not with my family."

She shared that her favorite Christmas movie has become a tradition for her family.

"On Christmas Day, we watch 'A Christmas Story,' nonstop, on repeat," Appelhans said.

Appelhans has another fun family tradition for Christmas Eve, which she calls "Shrimp Fest." She also enjoys the nostalgia of Christmas magic through her younger siblings.

"My uncle makes up pounds of shrimp and we just dump it on tables and eat it," Appelhans said. "I have two younger brothers too who are seven and two, so before we go home we look at Santa Tracker and everything, and it's just a fun time to spend the day with my family."

Her two younger brothers are an important part of her Christmas traditions and have kept the magic and excitement alive. 

"It's super fun having little ones in the house," Appelhans said. "You can just keep Christmas going because they're so excited."

According to Appelhans, it's difficult to plan and decorate her room regularly. She shared that she and her roommate had decorated for Halloween, but it was a hassle to take things down and put new decorations back up. Most traditions and Christmas memories are with family, so it can be easy to miss home in December. 

Angelique Miller, a sophomore studying aviation flight, participates in a Secret Santa party with her friends and bakes and decorates Christmas cookies. She is originally from Tennessee but doesn't mind being far from home.

"I do like going back home over breaks … but I like having the independence," Miller said. 

She's planning to go gift shopping for a Christmas party with her sorority Tau Beta Sigma.

"We're gonna go down to maybe Walmart or Goodwill or something like that and find something cool," Miller said. "It's with the sorority that I'm in so it's like a little party, get-together event."

Emily Durosko, a sophomore studying sports management, binge-watched her favorite Christmas movie series, "The Santa Clause," to stay in the spirit this December.

"One of my favorite movies is 'The Santa Clause,' so my friends and I watched it and had hot cocoa," Durosko said. 

As the weather gets colder and cold fronts blow snow into Athens, one can bundle up and watch Christmas movies, cut out paper snowflakes and bake cookies. As the holiday season settles dorms and student homes, many at OU are reliving old traditions and creating new ones. 


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