By: Zoe Bernardi, Community Editor

The holiday break is slowly creeping up on us. It is just beyond the start of December and after the crazy weeks of finals and studying. This year USM students have a solid five weeks, classes end December 13, with finals ending on December 20, and we are not asked back until January 21.

Since the Free Press does not have any issues after this one (this being number 10), all of the editors, staff writers and photographers have this time to breathe as well. Below, 11 staff members of the Free Press share how they plan to spend all this time off over break, what they are excited for, or a holiday tradition.

Janesa Staples: (Brunswick, ME; Health Science, Staff writer)
My holiday traditions have changed and evolved from childhood to adulthood. This year Thanksgiving is going to be a completely new celebration and I am ecstatic. I will be spending Thanksgiving in New Hampshire with my four-year-old son, my Dad, my Dad’s girlfriend, my brother, and my cousin that I have only met once before this holiday.

When it comes to food I am simple. I skip all the casseroles and go for the turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, and of course pumpkin and apple pie.

Abby Nelson: (Union, ME; Media Studies, Staff writer)
This year I’ll be going home to have dinner at my mother’s parents’ house. We typically have all the family over for dinner and then watch some football and play games. We always take a family photo of all who came. My grandfather usually cooks most of the main meal. My Nana will cook some sides and my aunt makes a dessert.

Amelia Bodge: (Sanford, ME; Communication, Staff writer)
One family tradition my family has around the holidays is that we always set up the Christmas tree together. We like to collect weird and quirky ornaments from our travels so our tree is just a huge collage of our interests, trips, and handmade ornaments from when my brother and I were kids.

My favorite ones were the set of ornaments of the toys from The Island of Misfit Toys from Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer. Dolly and The Train with Square Wheels always brings back so many memories.

Fun fact, all the toys from The Island of Misfit Toys are there because they are seemingly “defective” and kids wouldn’t want them except for Dolly who seems to have no flaws. But when I was a kid we had an old VHS copy of the film, and in the original broadcasting of Rudolph it is explained that Dolly’s “flaw” is that she is a “doll that cries real tears,” but they removed this scene in other releases because they thought it taught young girls to not show emotions.

Cullen McIntyre: (Saco, ME; Media Studies, Sports Editor)
For Christmas, we have different plans every other year. One year we will go to my aunt and uncle’s house in Melrose, MA for the day, and the other year (this year) they will come to us for the day. We open gifts early in the morning with just my family. Then when the rest of my family arrives we have our Christmas lunch/dinner, open gifts, and do our yearly Yankee swap.

Enzhe Zaripova (Russia, Staff writer)
For Thanksgiving, my roommate invited me to come for a few days to her family in Massachusetts. During the days off we are planning to go to Boston to see a Black Friday because it’ seems to me also something unique for the American culture. There is “black Friday” in Russia now, too, because of the influence of the Western traditions. Usually, they are a week-long, and discount prices don’t differ much from the original ones, though. I hope I have enough courage for this crazy experience.
I haven’t made plans for Christmas yet, but I’m going to meet New Year in New York with friends. Even the phrase with the word “new” twice promises something fabulous I hadn’t felt before.

In Russia, New Year is the most desired holiday. We celebrate it as widely as Christmas in the USA. The whole family would gather together, share delicious meals, give gifts. The New Year holiday is a relaxing time for the country! The vast majority of adults are off work from December 31 till at least Orthodox Christmas on January 7, while students’ winter break is for 2 weeks. On January 1, it’s rare to see many people on the streets.

Emma Walsh: (Readfield, ME; Media Studies, Staff writer)
My holiday plans are to visit my family in Massachusetts. We all gather at my Grandfather’s house in Cape Cod and spend time together and exchange gifts. I’m excited to spend quality time with my family and to relax over the break.

Kate Rogers: (Brunswick, ME; Media Studies, News Editor)
We are going to my cousin’s house for Thanksgiving which is exciting because since my cousins and I have grown up and moved out or away, we never get to have a big dinner at my Aunt’s house as we used to almost every year when I was a kid

We’re gonna make pumpkin whoopie pies too, which are the best season-exclusive treat of the whole year. I’m just happy to be able to stay at home and write (and play Pokémon) and to have good leftovers for a week after thanksgiving. Might mess around and get a bunch of Black Friday DVDs too, that’s my tradition.

Alyson Peabody: (Matinicus Island, ME; Fine Arts, Editor-in-Chief)
Over Winter break, I will be taking an online class, working at Glickman Library and writing a column for Pen Bay Pilot (phew!). My family is scattered across New England, so we will be congregating in Portsmouth, NH for a post-Christmas celebrations. Christmas day will be spent with my partner and his family in Falmouth.

Last year, my five siblings, their partners and I sang “White Christmas” for our parents to thank them for all their support throughout the years. They were at every concert, play/musical and event we participated in. This was the first time that we all came together to perform at the same time. It was an emotional experience.

Dakota Tibbetts: (Lewiston, ME; Communications and Media Studies, Design Director)
Over break, I am mainly going to be working and watching Disney movies with my dog.

Lillian Lema (South Portland, ME; Communication & Media Studies, Intern writer)
Once December arrives, my sisters start preparing for Christmas by putting the tree up, listening to holiday music and watching their favorite holiday movies, such as “ELF.” Every year on Christmas Eve my mom will roast pork loin and make side dishes to have for dinner. Also, we stay up until midnight, just like they do back in Ecuador. Families will stay up celebrating and eating dinner until midnight and then start opening presents. As my mom prepares dinner she listens to cumbias, which is a folkloric genre of music that originates from Colombia. The songs she chooses to listen to are classics and my parents say that everyone in Ecuador listens to them during the holiday parties. The music and food are ways that my parents are able to experience their holiday traditions far from home and from loved ones.

Stephen Bennett: (Cape Elizabeth, ME; Media Studies, Staff writer)
When this semester ends, I’m going to take a long nap and probably not leave my house for a few days. After a few days, I’ll realize I want to see my friends and family, so I plan on spending a lot of time with them. Towards the end, I’m also going on a trip to Amsterdam and London.
This is the last extended break before I graduate, so I want to make the most of it. Not necessarily in the sense of accomplishing a lot, but by being more in the present and not worrying about what is to come.

Zoe Bernardi (Schenectady, NY; Media Studies and Communication, Community Editor)
I am very fortunate to have been raised in a family that cultural practices both Hanukkah and Christmas, or Chrismkah. This year Hanukkah and Christmas fall on the same week.

Christmas Eve is always hosted at my house, with 14 people coming over and sitting around the tree and enjoying a big meal. Hanukkah is also hosted at my house, but instead, we eat brisket and light the menorah. Christmas day is at my grandparents’ house and my father’s side of the family.

I am very excited for New Year’s Eve as my boyfriend will be joining me and my family as we spend four days in a cabin in the Adirondacks. We will be accompanied by my grandparents, aunts and uncles and my cousins.

Whatever you plan to do with your five-week luxurious break away from USM, spend it with those you love. Have a happy holiday and a good new year. See you all in 2020.


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