December is an important month for college students, as it consists of two significant occasions: finals week and the start of winter break.
In the days leading up to finals week, my schedule is a myriad of deadlines, appointments, work shifts and meetings and on top of it all, I still need to finish my Christmas shopping.
I was allowed to go home from my job an hour early on Friday, so as soon as I arrived back at my dorm, I tucked my planner away — giving myself a break from looking at my long list of assignments I need to finish before the end of the semester.
Instead of working ahead on homework, I confronted the other stressor in my life: needing to get organized for the holidays.
I pulled out my journal and made a list of the people I have and need, to buy Christmas presents for. Then, underneath their names, I listed the gifts I’ve already purchased, or the gifts I still need to get them.
Keeping a budget during the holiday season, especially for college students like myself, is also crucial to some individuals.
The magazine Cottages & Bungalows has a helpful Christmas list template for those who want to keep a running list of gift ideas and simultaneously track how much they spend.
One instance where this type of list is especially beneficial for me is the Secret Santa gift exchange I am doing with a small group of friends over winter break.
Each of us has a $25 limit to spend on our designated person in the friend group, so noting the cost of each gift I buy for my friend, and the running total I’ve spent on them, helps me stay within that budget.
This year, I find myself shopping online more than I ever have before because of the COVID-19 pandemic and my desire to stay safe and healthy before I see my parents for the holidays.
For this reason, I’ve been putting a checkmark by a gift on my list once I’ve purchased it, so I know it’s been ordered. When doing multiple online orders from different places, it’s also important to note when the item will be arriving and when it’s been wrapped.
As someone whose journals and notebooks are full of to-do lists, making a Christmas list was the perfect way to address my stress surrounding Christmas shopping.
I sat next to my two-foot-tall Christmas tree and in the shadows of its white lights, I wrote my list and watched one of my favorite Christmas movies: “A Christmas Carol” with the actor Jim Carrey — one film that shows just how important generosity is during the holidays.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, as many of us experience loneliness, grief, sadness and stress, thinking about the act of giving was just what I needed to feel hopeful.
As finals approach, take a breath and think about what you can do to make others feel cared for this holiday season. Call a friend, mail a letter, pay it forward — or, make a Christmas list.
Van Sistine can be reached at [email protected]