Jonas Doerr – Opinion Columnist
Snowflakes fall, Christmas trees twinkle, and everyone is smiling and happy. Right?
Wrong. It’s not the most wonderful time of the year, it’s the most stressful. Exams are looming, projects are piling up, and when you step outside your ears feel like they were dipped in liquid nitrogen. Students have problems, and lots of them. Fortunately, as every child knows, there is someone who can fix those problems.
His name is Santa Claus. Now, common belief has it that college students are too old for Santa Claus. Some think he is past his prime and really only helps kids nowadays. Some even think Santa is not real (gasp).
Clearly those people who don’t believe in Santa are mistaken – just go to a mall and see. Or perhaps, if a doubter is still cynical, let them go to the North Pole and see Santa’s workshop for themselves! There’s no airport at the North Pole, you say? Ludicrous! Santa’s sleigh has to land somewhere! Just look harder for tickets.
But maybe there are some people who don’t doubt Santa’s existence, just that he will be able to do anything to help Gustavus students. We have no chimneys at Gustavus! How can he deliver any presents? Santa’s white beard only reminds us of how our own hair is turning white from stress, and his belly only reminds us that we shouldn’t have binge-ate an entire box of Oreos! And do you really think students have been nice, not naughty?
These are all very legitimate concerns, but the fact of the matter is that Santa can go through doors like a normal person as well as chimneys, so that is not an issue. And maybe you did binge-eat that box of Oreos, but as long as you saved a couple for Santa you are automatically on the nice list. But of course, the appeal of having Santa on campus extends beyond receiving gifts, since most students will not be on-campus during Christmas.
Santa Claus represents a light at the end of the formidable tunnel named exam week. As homework is piling up and friendships are abandoned in a manic scramble to stay on top of all the work, it can be too easy to think it will never come to an end. Students begin to think maybe all there is to life is proofreading nine-page papers and memorizing vocab. And then WHAM! Out of nowhere, Santa is there, sitting in a chair and patting his knee welcoming students to come and forget their troubles for a moment. Being with Santa takes students away from their stress and tribulations and reminds them that after that final exam they have two weeks to do something most have forgotten how to do: sleep. Santa reminds them that Christmas is coming.
Santa also could lend students a listening ear. Santa listens to children talk about what they want for Christmas, because that is what is important to them. But students have more pressing issues, like why Joe left you on-read, or how the zucchini in the Caf just didn’t hit the spot, or how can one possibly hide the enormous pimple that suddenly popped up this morning. The problem is, everyone is too busy to listen to each other’s problems this time of year, so those issues just fester inside of students. Enter Santa, the expert listener! Students could come and sit on his knee and regale him with all the stressful events in their lives, letting everything out to a kindly ear and smiling face. Although no student would say they don’t like presents, sometimes they need a listening ear even more.
Surely Santa has some time to give Gustavus a visit? Maybe his schedule is already filled for December with mall visits and workshop management, but who could refuse a visit from him during the next couple of weeks? No one is too big to sit on Santa’s knee!
However, it’s possible that we will have to be Santa to other Gusties as Christmas nears. Gifts are nice, but sometimes it can be hard to know what to get our friends and, to be honest, our college-student-sized wallets are too thin to get everyone a present. What everyone can do, however, is listen to what is going on in other students’ lives. Having someone else listen to a problem and sympathize is almost as good for forgetting problems as walking under mistletoe with the right person.
Don’t make them come to you, though. They probably will assume you’re too busy to listen, like I already did earlier in this article. That will make it all the more meaningful, though, when you take some time to ask them how everything is going. Find some friends, ask them what’s new with them, and help them sleigh some seasonal demons. Go to town on being the Santa Claus that comes to town!