Not Home For The Holidays


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Makenna Aiello, Reporter

   You better watch out, you better not cry… The winter holidays are coming to town! That’s right, the most magical time of the year is upon us, and slowly but surely, it’s making itself known in homes, grocery stores, and television commercials. Christmas trees, music, and decorations are slowly beginning to appear in everyday life. We’re well on our way to another beautiful holiday season, one of laughter, joy, and family.

   Every family has its own special traditions, whether that be attending religious services, hosting christmas dinner, celebrating another holiday altogether, or in this case, vacationing.

   It’s common for families to remain at home for the entire season of December with their closest family and friends, surrounded by all that is familiar, but this is not always the case. Some vacation for the holidays and travel across the United States to visit family in faraway places. Some even hop on a plane to fly across the ocean if their traditions are deeply rooted in another continent altogether. 

   Traditions call for hops, skips, and 8,000 mile jumps – in the case of Sophomore Lexie Ngo, at least. 

   “This year I’m traveling to Vietnam over Winter Break. It’s where my parents are from, and my grandparents live there.” Ngo said. “It’s an important part of our family. The last time I went was back in 2nd grade, because, you know, it’s all the way across the world and it’s hard to make time to go there. I love to travel on the holidays because Kansas can get a little boring, and it’s so fun and exciting to go to new places and have a change of scenery for a while.”

   It can be difficult when those you love are situated in such far away places, but visiting them for the holidays is always such a precious experience. Sophomore Katie Circle recalls that while she doesn’t get to see her family often, the moments she shares with them on the holidays overcome all the distance between them.

   “I go to my grandparent’s farm for Christmas every year, and we have a sleepover with all my cousins. My mom has 8 siblings, so I have quite a few cousins that are always running around, and us older cousins have our own traditions, like our annual ping pong tournament.” Circle said. “It’s very important to my family, because we don’t get to see each other a lot, and it’s the only time we get to see my grandparents, so it’s just memories we get to make with each other.”

   Sophomore Kira Jacobs also shares a similar tradition.

   “My family travels to Iowa every year.” Jacobs said. “We’ve been doing this for a long time, and it’s really important to me, because I don’t get to see my family that much. I really enjoy spending Christmas break with them.”

   English Teacher Marci Gibbens also has her own tradition that she is participating in over the holidays. 

   “My parents and I started a tradition in 2019 to go to New York each summer, but then the pandemic hit, and we haven’t gone for the past three years. So we decided that we’d pick it back up and go over break this year.” Gibbens said. “We’re going to New York City, and we’re going to see three broadway shows: Music Man with Hugh Jackman, The Piano Lesson with John David Washington, and a K-pop musical. Typically, I prefer to stay home, just to relax and catch my breath, but now, with longer holiday breaks, I have time to go with my parents and then come home to the rest of my family.”

     Sophomore Kiera Ho also has her own traditions, though they fluctuate from year to year and allow for a change of scenery each time.

     “Normally we visit family in Arkansas and Iowa. I love going to Arkansas to visit the countryside, and so far, I’ve also really enjoyed Colorado,” Ho said. “It’s a tradition for us in the summer and winter, because of the long weekends, and I love being able to get out, see new places, and be with family, since Kansas can get stifling after a while.”

   Senior Natalie Burg shares a tradition similar to Ho’s, in which she vacations some years and stays home for others, but prefers to travel. 

“Some years, I go to Colorado for the holidays to visit family that lives there.” Burg said. “I love to vacation because it’s warmer, and I enjoy the outdoors.”

    Freshman Ani Allen’s tradition takes place in Georgia, where shopping is abundant, and the food is amazing.

   “We travel to Georgia every year to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins.” Allen said. “I love going to Georgia instead of staying home during the holidays because there’s so many places to shop, and my aunt and uncle have the best food.”

   Social Studies Teacher Mr. Cook is taking a grand-scale vacation this year, leaving behind wintery Kansas and embarking on a cruise.

   “The cruise will take us to Cozumel, Costa Maya, and the southern region of Mexico. We’ll do a few little excursions, like glass bottom boat tours and swimming with dolphins.” Cook said. “Usually we don’t travel for the holidays, but now that my daughter is grown and married, she alternates spending holidays with his side of the family and ours. This year, my wife and I have our holiday breaks freed up, so we planned this cruise for a fun getaway.” Cook also expresses how his children growing up have given him a lot of free time. 

   “When your children are grown and gone, you have so much free time to yourself. I like staying home for the holidays, but there are also times when I just think, ‘Why not? Let’s go on a trip.’”

   And of course, there are always Christmases where family comes to you, at least in the case of our very own principal, Dr. Longenecker.

   “Some years I travel, but not this year, because my family is coming to me. All my children and my sisters will come over, and we will have the holidays at my house. Other years, we go to visit my wife’s family in Indiana and D.C.” Longenecker said. “When I travel, the break ends up dragging by, with the day of travel and of course, the long break that is spent at their house, and though I love my family very dearly, it can be too long of a vacation. I just love to be home for the holidays, surrounded by my things and my family.”

   While there are many people who love vacationing on the holidays, others, such as Sophomore Hafsa Jalil, prefer to stay home with their close family and engage in their own traditions there.

   “Some years, I travel to Dallas, Texas to be with my family there, but for the most part, my family comes to visit me.” Jalil said. “I love to be home for Christmas rather than going to Texas because my favorite cousins come over, and I love the winter season in general.”

   Christmas is different for each family, and a huge part of each holiday is where you decide to spend it. From Colorado to Vietnam, Mexico to Iowa, each family has their own special home where they spend the best time of the year with the people they love most. As Christmas descends, school comes to an end, and bags are being packed in preparation for travel, cozy in for the Christmas season. Wrap presents, watch Christmas movies, and spend time with the people you love, because, after all, it’s not about where you are … It’s about who you are with.