As the holiday season approaches, so too does finals season. And as usual, one of my favorite holidays, Hanukkah, falls squarely during the last weeks of the semester. It feels funny to have the holiday based on one night of oil burning for eight consistently in the heart of finals — a time when we are all desperately trying not to burn out.
But we are not that oil. So we do what we can.
Holidays are a time for honoring something important to you, and I understand the urge to make it perfect. You come to college with traditions of all shapes and sizes from home that make it feel like the holiday season. And if you’re anything like me, you want to be able to bring that holiday cheer with you even when it simply isn’t feasible.
It was hard my first time away from home on Hanukkah. I spent a lot of time worrying about how to make the holiday special. By the time Hanukkah actually came, I was fully burnt out between the pressure of finals and all the added stress I put on myself trying to celebrate.
If holidays are supposed to be special, they shouldn’t make you too stressed to enjoy them.
Here are some ways you can offset that stress and enjoy holidays when they happen while you’re at school.
Find compromises where you can and accept where you can’t
Not every tradition can come with you to college. For example, you can’t (or at least shouldn’t) light candles in a dorm, which makes having a menorah hard. To get around that, use a flameless menorah. Instead of making your favorite holiday dish in a dorm kitchen during finals week, try and see if there is a local restaurant that sells the food you’re looking for.
Now, not every holiday tradition has such an easy solution. There are things that simply cannot be done on a college student’s budget or schedule. And that’s OK. It isn’t the end of the world if you can’t make every tradition work. Take a breath. See what you can make happen with the effort you can spare, but don’t stress about what won’t work.
Share with friends
Sometimes the best way to celebrate a holiday is to share it with others. One of my favorite campus holiday memories was buying a big bottle of kosher grape juice (which is fantastic, by the way) and watching “Prince of Egypt” for Passover my freshman year.
Is this the equivalent of a Passover Seder? Nope, not at all. But it made me feel closer to my friends by sharing a holiday experience (even an unorthodox one). It made that holiday feel special.
Maybe when you’re celebrating this year, let your friends help organize something. Because at their core, a lot of holidays are about community in some way, shape or form. You can make new traditions with the people you love and care about here.
Celebrate however you want
You can’t do it all, but you can do little things to make the season special. If you want to celebrate a holiday by getting yourself a little treat, go for it. That is enough. If you don’t want to do anything for it all, that is more than fair. That is enough. If you are worried that what you are doing to celebrate your holiday isn’t enough, it is. This is your holiday — celebrate it in whatever way feels right for you.
This year, my plan is to maybe watch a movie with some friends for Hanukkah. And that is enough.
Holidays are special, yes, but they should not run you into the ground with worry. Do what you can and know that that is more than enough. Happy holidays, everyone.
Darcy Winter is the fact checker and can be reached at email@example.com