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Students share holiday traditions and cheer

As warm weather gives way to the cold, leaves start to fall off trees, shorts turn into jeans, and knit beanies reign over sunglasses, the onset of winter has begun, and the holidays are just around the corner. One might wonder just what students at Carmel High School are doing around this time of year.

Grace Heidtke, a junior at CHS, spends her Christmas visiting family in Seattle. Unlike a traditionally styled meal, Heidtke tends to celebrate with a Japanese-style feast.

“We all sit around a table and make mochi, which is a Japanese dessert,” Heidtke says. “My grandma also makes a ton of rice balls.”

Another interesting aspect of Heidtke’s celebration is that her family participates in a Secret Santa form of gift-giving, where gifters are assigned a single person to shop for.

“This year, instead of buying presents for everyone, one person buys something for another,” Heidtke adds.

While Heidtke’s family exchanges gifts using the Secret Santa method, junior Duda Sant’Anna’s family celebrates a similar, yet unique, tradition where family members exchange songs, poems or a story about that person with the rest of the family.

Up until this last year Sant’Anna has lived in Brazil. Her geographic location, next to the equator,   drastically changes her Christmas experience.

“It doesn’t snow at all in Brazil, so we usually do summer stuff,” Sant’Anna says. “We go to a family resort and have a barbecue because it doesn’t snow.” She adds, “Usually my grandma cooks an entire pig.”

Joaquin Carlson, a freshman at CHS, will be traveling to Mexico this Christmas with his friend’s church to help bring Christmas joy to the orphans. Carlson will bring presents, sing songs and play with all of the orphans.

“The goal of the trip is to spread the gospel message,” Carlson says. “I’m really excited to go on this trip and help all of these people out.”

While most students are taking time off to celebrate the new year, students like sophomore Joe Garello will be working over the two-week winter break. Garello is currently employed as a bellman at the Pine Inn, located in downtown Carmel.

In years past, Garello has utilized his break spending time with his family.

“Every other year my year my grandparents come down to celebrate Christmas,” Garello says, “and on Christmas eve we have roast beef and Christmas day we have turkey.”

Senior Ali Khalil is of Palestinian descent and doesn’t celebrate Christmas. He takes this opportunity to work at his father’s car shop selling classic cars, such as Porsches and Mercedes.

“My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas,” Khalil says, “so it’s a good time to travel around the world or get some extra money working…. We’ve traveled to Palestine, Saudi Arabia and all over the Middle East.”

In the past, freshman Jasmine Bauer’s plans have consisted of traveling to Hawaii, and this year she plans to do the same.

“It was really fun,” Bauer says. “We got to surf every day.”

Bauer traveled to Hawaii, specifically on the island of Oahu, with her sister last year for a month, and the year before that she traveled to Hawaii by herself.

Will Gafill, a freshman at CHS, will be making his annual pilgrimage to Santa Barbara with his family to visit his grandparents for the holidays. They will be eating their usual meal, consisting ham and turkey.

-Carter Whitaker

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