A Highlights Reel
By Kami Rice, freelance writer
On a dark and very wet New Year’s Eve weekend night I ventured into the sopping darkness in spite of the certainty of encountering the dreaded enemy Frizz. I was on a mission after all. Nothing could be allowed to deter me, not even the specter of frizzy, wet hair.
Before the memories were forgotten because old calendars had been exchanged for new ones, I had to discover what had been so special about this Christmas season we were fast leaving behind us. So, I swam over to the Maryland Farms Starbucks to see which souls I could find lingering there with closing time approaching. The burning question was this: What were the highlights of this Christmas for you?
I found Sloan Staley, 18, and Lauren Cranford, 19, chatting in two comfortable armchairs in the corner. They’re best friends from high school who are home on break from their first semester of college. They let me interrupt them with my important question.
After a few seconds of thought, Lauren, who’s been off at UT-Chattanooga all fall, decided the highlight for her was “being back home with my family and my best friends and realizing I missed these people a lot more than I thought I would.”
Sloan has stayed a little closer to home at David Lipscomb University. “I don’t think anything really big has happened,” she answered, “just everybody hanging out.” Sloan did say she’d gotten a nice new pair of pajamas for Christmas, but that wasn’t so much a highlight as a continuation of a family tradition. “We always get pajamas on Christmas Eve,” she explained. “We only get to open one present on Christmas Eve and that’s the one we open.”
Lauren said that her family always eats pizza and goes to a movie on Christmas Eve. That’s not the only tradition her family has continued, though. “I love it that my parents still get excited about Santa even though my brother and I are older,” she explained with a smile. Santa still gets cookies from Lauren and her 22-year-old brother, and they still get a note from him.
My next interviewees were also high school friends turned college students hanging out over Christmas break. Liza Hoos, 20, has been in Montreal at McGill University, and Paige Bigham, 19, has been studying at UT-Knoxville.
Thinking quickly to answer my question, Liza replied with a laugh, “I played Lazer Quest, and it was really fun.” Paige followed, “The food was really good.” After a few seconds she decided she should add to her answer and noted that the Lifetime original movies had also been good this year. Additionally, she put together four 1000-piece puzzles over the holiday.
At that reminder, Liza noted that she’d worked on a puzzle, too: the same puzzle her family puts together every Christmas. She said they just call it “The Christmas Puzzle.” They start it on Christmas Eve and finish on Christmas Day. “We all have our assigned part,” she explained. Asked if they get faster at it every year, she said she thinks they do. But, apparently there’s no official time-keeping by the eight or so family members who are usually in on the fun.
With the doors about to lock, it was time to check in with a couple of the green-aproned folk behind the counter. Among the highlights for Val, 27, was that “I got exactly what I wanted. All I wanted was a little shuffle iPod. That was all I wanted.” She said her husband tried to throw her off-track, suggesting that she would probably just lose it if she did get one. But, he came through in the end.
Matt, 23, kept his answer short and sweet: “Family.”
With that, my mission completed, I headed back into the downpour as the door locked behind me and another Christmas season wrapped up its warm memories.
Kami Rice lives in Brentwood and rarely experiences a dull moment. If, however, you need to be rescued from a dull moment, you can check out her teeny, tiny corner of the blogosphere: The Coffeehouse Journals. Contrary to all appearances, Kami does have a life outside coffee.