I love Christmas. I love eating nothing but tamales and holiday cookies for two weeks. I love getting shit from my relatives that I myself am too broke to buy. I love seeing family and friends. I love being home. I love Christmas songs and Christmas specials on ABC family. And I love the movie Elf. Christmas is probably the thing I look forward to the most every year.
But being at Princeton, it can be a little difficult appreciating these things, or at the very least remembering the holiday season is upon us. I didn’t even realize it was December until I had to save something on my computer and I noticed the date read “December 5.” Were it not for that and the peppermint mocha at Starbucks, I don’t know that I’d ever really recognize Christmas’s arrival.
It’s interesting the way everyone talks about the Orange Bubble, usually referring to the way we lose contact with the outside world in terms of global events, or really anything that doesn’t directly affect our busy schedules. I’ve believed for some time now that if the sky were falling most of us would never realize it because we were studying or at an info session or running a meeting or some other very Princeton-ish activity. But I’d never thought about it in terms of something like this (i.e. Christmas time).
A fellow writer for the Nassau Weekly suggested that someone go shopping out in the real world and relate back to us what the experience was like, and I really do think it would be a strange experience. It’s been two years now since I did any Christmas shopping in an actual store (and not on the internet), but I remember the winter decorations and massive sales and assaulting signs everywhere advertising special holiday edition this or that with either a cute polar bear or a ridiculously good-looking family laughing at some unknown inside joke. Now I find I’m not only oblivious of what the joke is, but completely unaware the joke even exists.
I was in Boston this Thanksgiving and during my time there I noticed some stores were already getting ready for the coming month. I know this is typical, but it was surprising nonetheless. Perhaps more jarring than the sudden transition into the holiday season was the equally sudden transition out of it. The minute I stepped on campus I immediately forgot Christmas was just around the corner. I immediately submerged myself in work yet again—work I neglected over break, work I had to get done before the next break (though even the thought of another break was slightly confusing to process). I immediately lost the nostalgia that had briefly surfaced when I was in Massachusetts. For that short time I had gone back to my pre-Princeton years when I would watch holiday movies every weekend and drink Mexican hot chocolate with pan dulce and literally just sit and watch my Christmas tree, intently. But I don’t have time for nostalgia. I have work to do. Princeton makes sure to remind me of this while, outside the Bubble, department stores and television programs are doing their best to remind people of the opposite, to remind them that the holidays have arrived and soon kids will be out of school and parents will be on vacation and families will gather yet again to gossip and annoy each other the way only families can.
Princeton seems to change the way we experience pretty much everything. The “bubble” is quintessentially Princeton. Our detachment from everything is unique. What this says about us as people I’m not entirely sure. I’m just angry because I want to drag out this whole Christmas thing for as long as I possibly can, but Princeton makes it really hard for me to do so.