How Holiday Traditions Are Changing This Year


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In past years after Thanksgiving break, students have returned to campus feeling jolly and holly ready for the holidays ahead of them. For Williston that means celebrations within the dorms, study hall caroling, a winter banquet, and the long anticipated Hill’s house deserts.

These events that take place over just short of three weeks in December and bring the community together. Whether you are a happy elf or a Grinch during the holiday season, it is undeniable that these traditions bring comfort and smiles to Williston.

But for the first time in history, there will be no students on campus this year to continue these traditions.

Kat Livingston, a 16-year-old junior boarder from Rhode Island, has in past years loved the joyful spirit throughout the school, especially the decorations.

“I really like when the dorm is all decorated and the Wildest Cats come by all dressed up and bring us milk and cookies,” she said. “It is an excuse for us all to get cozy and come together.”

This will be the first year ever that these student-run events cannot occur. The loss for this tradition is not one taken lightly by students and faculty.

Students living off campus may find themselves more involved in family traditions, considering the extended time they’ll be spending at home compared to past years. Senior Madison Hamilton is excited to spend more time with her family and partake in their traditions.

“I have always missed out on decorating our house with my mom, but this year I finally will get to,” Madison, from Pepperell, Mass., explained.

Head of School Robert W. Hill will no longer see a majority of the student body caroling in his living room. The tradition began two years after he started at Williston. “It’s become a highlight and a great way to end before going on the long holiday break,” Hill said.

Instead of caroling with fellow students and taking pictures in front of his tree, his family has a new tradition this year.

“The Hill family will probably cut down our own tree,” he said. “Usually the school brings us a Christmas tree. Maybe it will help compensate for all that we miss from our students not being at our house.” Hill is currently in his tenth year as Head of School at Williston.

The Wildest Cats, the student activities groups, will not get the opportunity to deliver milk and cookies during study hall. A Williston and milk and cookies Alum, Lily Harris ’20, loved to experience the joy these traditions brought students.

“When we entered each dorm, everyone rushed out of their rooms instantly with a huge smile on their face. It was such a nice break from homework for everyone, even if it was just a couple minutes,” she said. Lily currently attends St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.

Other Williston students practice more uncommon traditions. Some families watch Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch or A Christmas Story. This is not the case for Senior Jack Higgins, 19, of Connecticut, and his family.

“On Christmas morning we watch “Die Hard,” he said. “And every time they kill a terrorist, we open a present.” Die Hard, a 1988 action movie starring Bruce Willis as Detective John McClane, takes place during a Christmas party in the fictional Nakatomi Plaza skyscraper in Los Angeles.

Reminiscing over the things we will be missing out on is only going to deeply remind us of all that we may have missed out on, yet we can use the holidays to grow hope and bring back the holly and jolly for just a little while. Maybe some of us will even snuggle by the fire to watch “Die Hard.”