Lake Zurich High School Student Media

Bear Facts

Lake Zurich High School Student Media

Bear Facts

Lake Zurich High School Student Media

Bear Facts

Ghosts of holidays past

Teens reflect on holiday nostalgia and how their traditions have changed over the years
Photo by used with the permission of Isabella Silverman
Silverman sits with a Hannukah themed bear and pillow. Silverman vividly remembers her childhood celebrations.

From Christmas to Hanukkah to Diwali, winter holidays are celebrated all around the world. Though holiday cheer is in the air this time of year, some students cannot help but long for the holiday season they experienced as children.

For Isabella Silverman, a junior who celebrates Hanukkah, growing up has changed her perspective on the celebratory activities that she and her family partake in.

Though Hanukkah is not a particularly important holiday in Judaism, according to Silverman, she has many positive and vivid memories attached to it, such as lighting the Menorah and opening presents.

“When I was a kid, my parents would have [my brother and I] wait ‘till sundown [to start the celebration], so I would have to wait […] to light candles and get my presents so I’d be really excited,” Silverman said. “I remember that the menorah we had back then would be on the [windowsill] so my [younger] brother wouldn’t knock it over.”

Though she treasures these memories of Hanukkah, according to Silverman, she feels nostalgic about her childhood celebrations. However, even though the excitement of opening presents has lessened over the years, the joy of spending time with her family has become the most important part of the season.

What winter holidays do students celebrate? (Photo by Sadie Good)

“We always go to my aunt and uncle’s house and then there’s a lot of people there and there’s always food and then we do presents with everyone. It’s just so much fun,” Silverman said.

Additionally, as she and her brother have gotten older, some traditions have evolved; for example, on her mother’s side, they try out new traditions for opening presents each year. Last year, they chose White Elephant, a game where each person brings one wrapped gift to the gathering and they take turns exchanging and stealing the gifts from each other.

Similarly, Lily Henry, senior who celebrates Christmas, has noticed that some of her family traditions have lasted through the years and found that she enjoys them just as much now as she did before.

“One of my favorite traditions is the night before Christmas, we open pajamas and read The Night Before Christmas. [We] open presents, you know, the stereotypical Christmas stuff,” Henry said. “It’s pretty nostalgic. It’s something I’ve enjoyed for years [and] it’s nice to see my [younger] siblings get excited about it.”

For Henry, however, some of that childhood magic that comes around during the holiday season has depleted as she has gotten older.

“[Now] it’s just a day that I get presents. I’m excited for it but I might want to sleep in another hour rather than get up at 6am,” Henry said.

A large loss, according to Henry, was the fantasy of Santa Claus.

“Santa was a pretty big thing [for me]. I used to get bullied because I believed in Santa Claus in the fifth grade,” Henry said. “It was kind of a big thing for me because I always believed in magic and [in some ways], I still do. [Christmas] is still exciting, just in a different way.”

One new Christmas experience that aging has brought for Henry is the joy of seeing her younger siblings make the same memories that she made during her childhood years.

“Seeing all the children being excited kind of brings up the memories,” Henry said. “[And now] I’m able to help out more and add to the excitement for my siblings.”

Though Silverman’s and Henry’s holiday traditions have changed over the years, some students’ traditions have stayed the same. For Raksha Bharadwaj, freshman who celebrates Diwali and Christmas, this is the case.

“[My family] celebrates Diwali,” Bharadwaj said. “We set up fireworks, the little tiny ones, and we get them straight from India so it’s more authentic. It’s not super fun being here without our family [because] they’re all in India and celebrating together so when we have stuff that’s authentic, it’s like we’re there [with them] too.”

Bharadwaj lights a sparkler on Diwali. Bharadwaj’s family sets off sparklers every year as part of their celebration. (Photo by and used with the permission of Raksha Bharadwaj)

According to Bharadwaj, the similarities between her family’s celebration in India and her own makes Diwali all the more enjoyable for her and her family in America.

“It’s nice because […] it makes me feel like I’m still a part of my culture,” Bharadwaj said. “My parents were really [helpful] too, because they grew up [in India], and they celebrated Diwali there every year so they just taught me how to [celebrate it]. [Now] when I grow up, and I have my own family, I’m gonna [teach my own kids].”

Although her traditions have not changed, Bharadwaj says she feels nostalgic about the holiday. “When I was little I remember […] being so in awe of the fireworks and everything,” Bharadwaj said. “My parents wouldn’t let me touch [the sparklers, but] I remember [loving Diwali] so much. Then there’s the smell of the sparklers and it always brings back memories.”

While Diwali is very special to Bharadwaj, and is her favorite holiday to celebrate, she also celebrates Christmas. Though she does not have the same cultural ties to Christmas that she does to Diwali, Bharadwaj says that she still enjoys celebrating it. After all, as Bharadwaj says, “‘when in Rome, be a Roman.’”

“We set up [and decorate] the trees and we go to my cousin’s house [for Christmas], and we have a scavenger hunt every year to find our presents,” Bharadwaj said.

Though holiday traditions for students at LZHS have changed over the years, they still hold both their memories and current celebrations dear.

“Holding the sparklers, setting off fireworks, making [traditional Indian] sweets,” Bharadwaj said. “It’s something close to home and it [has] a special place in my heart.”

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About the Contributor
Sadie Good
Sadie Good, Staff Writer
During her second year on staff, Sadie will continue writing for LZ Life and is looking forward to fulfilling her role of Junior Editor-in-Chief for the Bear Facts Magazine. In addition to journalism, Sadie is involved with the LZHS Literary Magazine; after school, she works at the Fish Market in downtown Lake Zurich. Outside of work and school, she enjoys reading, experimenting with new recipes, and spending time with her loved ones. In the future, Sadie aspires to become an investigative journalist.  

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