At about this time every year, I despair. I start to wonder how I am going to finish what seems to be a never-ending list of assignments and tasks. I start to wonder why I even came to this school; I must have a masochistic streak. The stress gets to me and I find myself resisting the urge to RSVP to a number of preposterous Facebook events (Dropping out of school to become a potato is a viable life decision, right? RIGHT??)
To make matters worse, the rest of the world does not seem to have gotten my memo. Don’t they know that I, along with all of UofT, am a big puddle of exam nerves? All I do is wake up, go to Robarts, go to class, return to Robarts, go home, and sleep! I am not feeling the Holiday cheer. Yet, everywhere I go, I hear sickeningly joyous holiday tunes, everything is pretty and sparkly and lit up, and there are tons of amazing events going on. Why is all of Toronto rubbing its holiday cheer in my face? I feel personally victimized by all this hollying and jollying and carrying on.
I know what you’re thinking; this girl is a classic Scrooge. You may be right. I’ll have you know, however, that I have been trying to embrace the spirit of the season. Last night, I went to Christmas High Table at Trinity College. Despite my best protestations—”I have too much work to do,” “I hate carolling,” “I don’t like cranberry sauce”—my roommates would not take no for an answer and they dragged me along.
For those who are unfamiliar with Trinity and its traditions, High Table is a formal dinner held in Strachan Hall every week. Everyone dresses up (yes, we even wear our academic gowns) and a student head says grace in Latin before the food is brought out. Distinguished faculty and alumni dine at the high table, which is the one at the far end of the room in front of the tapestry. Christmas High Table is extra special because those who are of age get to drink wine with their meal, we sing carols, and the fireplace is lit. Think of Christmas Dinner at Hogwarts, subtract the magic floating candles, and you’ll get the idea.
Every year, I look forward to Christmas High Table, but every year, I get into a really bad mood around Christmas High Table time for the aforementioned schoolwork-related reasons. What I always seem to forget, though, is that Christmas High Table never fails to get me out of my early December funk. It’s a beautiful tradition, it’s an excuse to catch up with my friends, and it reminds me of why I chose to come to Trinity in the first place.
I’m not saying that you’re going to find me rockin’ around the Christmas tree anytime soon—definitely not until my exams are over—but taking a few hours out of my stress-filled December to do something lovely puts things in perspective. It dawned on me that this is my fourth Christmas High Table. I am in my fourth year now, which means that I have managed to survive every exam period so far! There’s nothing like a nice tradition to remind you that you have handled stress before and you can do it again.
It also dawned on me that this was my last Christmas High Table, which feels very bittersweet. Instead of complaining about all the work I have to do, I’m going to start making a conscious effort to savour the time I have left to enjoy these undergrad traditions. School is hard and stressful sometimes—we all know that—but this time next year, I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m going to feel very nostalgic for my undergrad life, exams and all.
What are your favourite holiday traditions, UofT? How do you stay merry during the most arduous time of the year?