Right now, I’m sitting at my desk at home in snowy Chicago on Christmas Eve. My dad is in the kitchen cooking soup for tonight’s Christmas Eve dinner, my dog is laying on the floor in the middle of my room chewing on the brand new santa hat I got for him for Christmas, (typical), and my brother and mom are lounging around watching the movie, “White Christmas.” It’s a pretty picture-esque family atmosphere here in the Lewis household. It is moments like this one, right now, that remind me daily of how lucky I am. These are moments that also remind me that there are people all over that are not as fortunate. Some children won’t have a Christmas, a Chanukah, or even a Kwanzaa celebration. Some children may not even have a warm place to sleep tonight. This Christmas, my family and I will buy presents for a family in need, so come Christmas morning, a family that might not otherwise have presents or think that Santa would visit on his sleigh, will have the opportunity to open them on Christmas morning. To me, the giving back is what the holiday season is all about.
This semester, being junior year, was tough, but a good one. At the Yule Log ceremony this year, I was able to reflect on just what the semester meant and how it pertained to the holiday season. The Yule Log ceremony is my favorite tradition at William and Mary. In the Wren courtyard during finals the student body gathers to watch the celebration. Every religious group on campus reads a little bit about their own affiliations holiday celebrations. Ginger Ambler reads “Twas the Night Before Finals,” and Taylor Reveley, or Santa, reads “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” We then brush a piece of holy given to us as we enter the ceremony against a log that is passed through the audience for good luck, and then wait in line as we enter into the Wren great hall to throw our holy and all of our stresses into the fire. Carols are sung and it is really a time that puts everyone on campus in the holiday spirit, not to mention it’s a welcome break from studying!
While at the ceremony this year I was lucky because I was already done with exams. I was able to relax and enjoy the ceremony knowing I didn’t have to get back to the library ASAP to finish a paper or cram some more studying in. I was able to reflect on what being a junior at W&M meant. It means that I will only have one more…gasp!…Yule Log ceremony left to attend, I will only have one more winter last day of classes to blow out, and I will only have one more sorority rush. Instead of being dismayed by the fact that my time at the College, my home, the place I love more than my own home in Chicago, is coming to a close, I’m getting even more excited about what is ahead.
This semester I have been able to do private voice study with a professor in the Theater Department. I have been able to learn to use my voice in many different ways, as well as train in different dialects and accents. If you see me on campus, I’ve almost got my Scottish accent down! I’ve also been able to make lasting relationships with professors, and learn things about myself that I never knew. I learned that little old me can build a bookcase, a staircase, a wall, a platform, a chair, a table, even a refrigerator from scratch in my Stage Craft class. I learned that taking the time with your professors and getting to know them, especially my Chinese Pop Culture Professor, has showed me that when you don’t do so hot on a paper they will help you to succeed on the next. I also learned that taking risks, especially at a college that will catch you if you fall, is paramount in growing. For example, this semester when I didn’t get rehired to a program that I love and care so much for, I learned to realize through the help of one professor, that it truly was a blessing in disguise. She gave me the courage to send my headshot and resume to the Improv Olympic, a comedy training base that feeds into Saturday Night Live and Second City. As of right now I am going to be a part of their summer intensive company with a final performance in late August. Were it not for this professor, and the ability to take the risk and know that through one defeat comes multiple more successes, I know that I have become stronger, more determined, and a better person from it.
These professors, only to name a few, have given back so much to me, and to my fellow students. They have been there for me, have nurtured my interests, and helped to define my career path. I can now confidently say I am going into next semester not only knowing what I’m doing next summer, but what graduate schools I’m planning to apply to, and with a plan to run another half marathon with my boyfriend in March. I hope you now understand why I put my family through the giving back process from the moment I returned home for Christmas break. All semester the College of William and Mary has been giving back to me, and I had to make sure I did my part!
Happy Holidays everyone!