“Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!” “Sure, Charlie Brown. I can tell you . . .”
When it comes to Christmas, I admit it: I am that girl. Carols the day after Halloween. A Netflix queue stacked with 14 versions of A Christmas Carol. Peppermint-flavored everything. I would put up my Christmas tree November 1, if I thought I could get away with it. And while I have my Charlie Brown–esque moments, bewildered by flashing lights and aluminum trees, so to speak, for the most part, the whole Christmas season just makes me happy. No small part of that is remembering—to be perfectly hackneyed for a moment—what Christmas is all about.
Now, I don’t think I need to retell the story of that night in a manger (though if I did, I would do it from the donkey’s point of view, or maybe Balthazar, just to shake things up!). Instead, I wanted to talk about some of the fun and often quite meaningful ways to celebrate the Christmas season on campus.
Faith-related ceremonies and events
It shouldn’t take long to find Christmas events on and around campus, including Christmas liturgies, community nativity scenes, or perhaps even a performance of Handel’s “Messiah” (or just the obligatory “Hallelujah Chorus”!). You might be able to participate in Christmas masses directly, through campus liturgical ministry. Or, if you joined a music ministry, you might plan Christmas repertoires and performances. (Our guide to Catholic campus ministry.) You can also join in on informal Christmas choirs. And, of course, there’s something special and solemnly beautiful about a midnight Mass, especially on Christmas Eve. Many Catholic colleges offer midnight Masses at their campus chapel, or Catholic student groups might arrange a trip off campus to attend one.
During the holidays, you’ll find ample volunteer opportunities, on campus and off, coordinated by both Catholic and secular groups. Whether you’re collecting nonperishables or warm hats, gloves, and scarves, organizing a fundraising dinner or serving one to the poor, there’s a charity effort for any schedule, interest, and ability. Ask your school’s office of student, spiritual, or Catholic life/Newman Center for volunteer ideas and plans. (Learn more about service learning in this article, "Count on Service Learning.") Don’t forget: while it’s a blessing that so many people feel inclined to give of their time and money around the holidays, food banks, homeless shelters, animal rescue associations, etc., need volunteers and donations all year long—and your Catholic campus ministry can help you stay involved! (You may also want to look into scholarships related to service activities, like the Bishop Maher Catholic Leadership Scholarship at the University of San Diego, or the Service to the Faith scholarship offered by Avila University.)
So, during this season of twinkling lights and tinsel, in between the snazzy holiday parties and the scramble to find the perfect present, you can find plenty of ways to reconnect with and celebrate your faith on campus. All you need do is look around!
And with that, I leave you with that timeless scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas, when Linus, with eloquence well beyond his years (and security blanket), explains “what Christmas is all about.”
Any Christmas campus events we should know about? Post them in the comments!