It’s the day he’s been waiting for all year long. When he gets the “okay” from mom, he turns the corner of the staircase at his grandparents’ house in Nevada to see the gorgeous Christmas tree encircled by presents of all sizes.
His jaw drops.
Hiding under the tree waiting for him is the gift he didn’t know he wanted, a blue and yellow remote-control car. The Christmas memory is forever etched in his mind.
Castleton University junior Riley Laughlin is looking forward to spending some time with loved ones back in Nevada, as he switches between Vermont and Nevada every year to see family.
“Being around family, especially distant family that you don’t see as often, and then you get to meet up with them and see them again (is amazing)” Laughlin said.
As time goes on, Castleton students say they become more aware and appreciative of how enjoyable their childhoods were, and Christmas memories play a big part in that.
“Our Christmases were pretty traditional every year,” said Bethany Fitzgerald, a senior Athletic Training major from Highgate, Vermont. “We would get the tree, and decorate it, just like every other family did, but our tree would only have homemade ornaments, or ornaments that only pertain to the family. We didn’t really have any store bought ornaments.” Traditions are common in most households this time of the year.
“We would make cookies, we always put out carrots for the reindeer as well. They work just as hard as Santa so they deserve a snack too,” said Fitzgerald with a huge smile. “And we would always watch “The Polar Express” every single Christmas Eve. That was our thing we did as a family.”
Other students chatted about memories involving the cold white stuff that piles up along the house.
Whether it’s fluffy or slushy, students said they often seem to make the most out of the snow, especially in their younger years.
Junior Nick Fecteau’s fondest Christmas memory is of him, his half-brother and his sister dashing through the snow.
“I just remember coming in to where we had the tree set up in the living room, and there was this big, green toboggan looking sled,” he said with a joyous grin. “Literally that afternoon, we took it to the sledding hill by the post office by our house and we took it down the hill. It was a terrible sled. It did 180’s, it crashed all the time, but that was probably my favorite Christmas.”
Will Mossop of Bethel, Connecticut remembers ripping up the snow for the first time on his very own snowmobile, a gift from Santa.
“I was pretty freaking hyped,” Mossop said. The one thing he wanted most as a middle schooler was a snowmobile, which he now looks back at as his favorite Christmas present.
However, there is a part of Christmas he dreads; his siblings waking him up at the crack of dawn to take a peek at what Santa has left under the tree.
“My youngest sister, Margaret, thinks it’s hilarious to come wake me up at 6:30 in the morning on Christmas morning, because God forbid the presents aren’t gonna go anywhere,” said Mossop, a junior exercise science major at Castleton.
What’s special about Christmas are the memories that are made. In Taylor Worcester’s case, it came in the form of a special friend.
Worcester received a yellow lab and named her Jessie.
“I was so happy,” Worcester said. “Definitely the best gift I’ve ever gotten. She was my best friend.”
When it comes to memorable Christmas moments, most people think of sitting by a fire with family, eating or cooking goodies and spreading smiles to the ones closest to their hearts.
But when a strong gust of wind from outside snuck into the entrance of her home and knocked down the sacred Christmas tree, Christine McSweeney couldn’t help but laugh.
“The ornaments are shattered everywhere, which ends up being stressful, but funny at the same time because it has to happen. Something has to go wrong during the holidays, so why not a Christmas tree falling down?” McSweeney said with a laugh.
During the most stressful time of the year, McSweeney said she really enjoys the soothing sounds and smells of a wood fire back home in Warwick, New York.
“We have a wood burning stove in my house that does the majority of the heat, and that is huge for me. Just the smell of that is like, wintertime, Christmastime is here,” Mcsweeney said.