A Courtyard Winter Wonderland

Finals, on any given year, can feel like an insurmountable hurdle standing between me and a winter break spent binge-watching Netflix in my childhood bedroom. And as much as I wanted to send all my professors a blank email with just the subject line “I will not be doing the final <3 have a lovely holiday season tho :-),” I knew the only real option was forward and through. But with finals come study breaks! (And with study breaks, free food! So much free food!) Often coordinated within each residential college, they can range from pirate-themed pizza parties to Super Smash Bros. tournaments to breakfast served in the dining halls at midnight — and while they’ve taken on different forms since the start of the pandemic, they’re always a welcome opportunity to shirk all of my responsibilities and procrastinate rest!

So as a study break during the last the week of classes, Silliman College and HoC Santos put up the first annual Silliman Winter Wonderland! For a couple hours each night, from Wednesday to Friday, a quarter of Silliman’s courtyard was transformed into a holiday market: a set of six wooden stalls surrounding a christmas tree and a couple firepits, adorned with ornaments and wreathed in sparkling lights and garlands, and stocked with all kinds of (warm!) festive treats. Between the offerings of all the stalls, there were sausages (and vegan sausages too!), soft pretzels, toasted almonds, brownies, cookies, churros, hot chocolate, hot cider, and mulled wine — and I was going to try to it all. At one point, shuffling from stall to stall, I was holding a sausage, a pretzel, three packets of mustard, a bag of toasted almonds, a cup of cider, and two cookies. (I have no shame at events where free food is offered. Absolutely none. Like a ravenous squirrel anticipating a long winter, I will eat literally everything. If there’s free food, I am leaving with a very, very full stomach. As everyone should!)

And if you wanted, it was interactive too! Any Sillimander could sign up to paint and design the stalls, hang up holiday lights, bake batches and batches of cookies in the Acorn (Silliman’s very own student-run coffee shop!) kitchen, perform songs that would echo across the courtyard, or just hang out and vibe behind the stalls handing out holiday snacks!

Snapshots from the Silliman Winter Wonderland in our residential college courtyard!

How I felt in the Silliman Courtyard with my friends! Immaculate vibes!

Even though all my papers and projects and performances were still waiting for me when I waddled back to the Sillibrary (Silliman Library!), my short hour in the courtyard had been simply nice: to stand with my friends and try to catch snowflakes on our tongues, to smile against the chill, to finally feel a bit festive. To feel full and out of time and content all at once.