What does it mean to you?
“Merry Christmas… And a Happy New Year! ”
 
It is that time of the year again where this slogan rings in my head more often than not. Christmas, to my knowledge, is a joyous occasion where family members gather together to improve rapport amongst each other. It is also when family members and close friends exchange gifts. Christmas trees are also allocated in everybody’s homes. Am I more or less accurate in my assumption?
 
There is also the peculiar mystery of the existence of Santa Claus. Does he really trundle down the chimney of households with his sack of presents to gift the gleeful children? Is he bulbous as depicted in movies? Does he travel on a reindeer sledge from home to home during Christmas? I do not have the answer to these pressing queries even up till now!
 
Being born and raised in an Asian country for most of my life, I generally do not celebrate Christmas. I have always wondered what Christmas celebrations would be like.
 
However, the festive buzz in Ireland is palpable in every corner. Shops and restaurants are filled with decorative ornaments and sounds of Christmas carols can be heard regularly in the busy streets of Dublin city center. The turning on of the Christmas lights event in Dublin every year is an indelible event that kicks off the festive season!      
 
Apart from my curious myth about the festive season, Christmas signifies the end of the first semester of college. This Christmas break gives students a much needed rest from the copious amounts of readings and assignments piled up during the semester. It is a time when students pack their bags and return home to join with their respective families for the festive period. However, for the international student, this situation would be largely different. Being an Asian international student who does not celebrate Christmas, returning home for the holidays would not be convenient considering the distance and flight costs.
 
In truth, the Christmas holidays leaves me with a sense of isolation as I am without the hustle and bustle of college life. For me, college friends would be the closest association to family for me. Being so far away from my family and relatives, those friends are the ones who I have the best connections with. Regarding this, the Christmas break suggests that I only return to college in January. Even though the occasional work fills up leisure time, there is still the sense of emptiness. The good news is that I have Christmas movies such as Home Alone, Harry Potter series to accompany me during this time of the year.
 
Regarding movies, I will take a memorable line from the hit Disney animated movie Frozen. “Do you wanna build a snowman?” is a famous line from the lead character, Anna. I most certainly would like to build a snowman in my lifetime. Thick sheets of snow bear strong resemblance to Christmas for me. Just envisage playing in the snow and building your own snowman, how awesome would that be! Unfortunately, Ireland does not provide sufficient snow for me to fulfill these tantalizing wishes. 
 
New Year, new me? With Christmas falling at the end of the year, the festive season ignites the preparations for the new year, 2018. For me, it would be a suitable time to look back at all the highs and lows of the year. Time waits for nobody - we grow older day by day whether we desire it or not. 2017 was a fruitful and prolific year for me. I made better friendships and did some mind-blowing stuff which I don't regret. I am looking forward to what 2018 has in store for me.
 
Ultimately, Christmas reminds me to treasure every part of my life. Nothing should be taken for granted. Being far apart from family, I learned to treasure them ever more, by frequently being in contact with them. I have also acknowledged the importance of friendship. It is a time to recall how fortunate I am to live in peaceful times as well.
 
What about you?  Did you manage to accomplish your goals for the year? Were you satisfied with your achievements for the year?
 
Christmas has a different meaning for everybody. Merry Christmas everyone!