Coming back to campus after Thanksgiving may not sound like any fun. However, there is nothing like Christmas music and festive decorations to make the last couple weeks of the semester that much better. Holland, Michigan, may be well known as a beach town, but there is something so enchanting about 8th Street covered in snow and strung with lights and stockings above the Bultman Student Center fireplace.
Every year Student Congress decorates the Bultman Student Center with everything from a 20-foot tree to poinsettias and lights. The dining halls are always festive and Phelps has one of the best Christmas playlists out there.
When President John Knapp and Mrs. Kelly Knapp were at Hope they planted a Christmas tree right next to the President’s House. Every year since, our campus has come together the week after Thanksgiving for the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting.
This year was the President’s Sixth Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. The campus gathered around the tree and we counted down for the tree to light up. With a beautifully lit tree, we sing Christmas carols led by the President.
When Betty Voskuil moved into the President’s House, she wanted to continue the longtime tradition of setting up luminaries along the sidewalk of her house on Christmas. She then thought it would be even more beautiful to place the luminaries along the sidewalk through the Pine Grove. After we lit the tree at the President’s House, all the students walked through the luminaries to the Bultman Student Center.
In recent years we have decorated Santa cookies in the Bultman Student Center while Christmas hits blast through the speakers. This year, we took it to the next level and combined the Tree Lighting with the weekly SAC Coffeehouse for a Christmas-themed Coffeehouse. There were three different performers but one of the most memorable was President Voskuil opening up the Christmas Karaoke with Jingle Bells.
The whole afternoon is such a fun study break for students to gather and celebrate the holiday season, but the Christmas Tree Lighting is just one of the many festivities around campus this time of year. Dykstra Hall, for years, has a decorating contest that completely transforms the residential hall. You will never see anything like it. I’ve seen everything from a full reenactment of the movie Elf to the entire cluster wrapped in wrapping paper.
I could go on and on about the Holland Parade of Lights or all of Durfee Hall singing Christmas Carols in the alleyway between Dykstra and Gilmore. All of these traditions make Hope that much more like home during the holidays.
On December 17, 2014, we lost a big presence on the Hope College campus. Its loss has changed the scenery and displaced many squirrels. Its vibrant colors added to the bright ambiance of the campus in the fall. As winter came, despite its change in appearance, it was a familiar sight on the hill beside Van Vleck.
I would like to dedicate this post to the Giant Tree.
I live in Van Vleck Hall so on the 17th, the day the tree was cut down, our Residence Director, Mary Cantor, posted on Facebook about mourning the loss of the giant tree. Mary was told there was a mold problem so the tree had to be cut down. Comments flooded the post about the sadness of losing such a great, old tree. It stood on Hope’s campus for 144 years! That’s just four years after the College’s founding.
Looking through my own photos from my first semester the Giant Tree made its way into my memories.
The Giant Tree’s branches are featured in this sunset picture I took from my window on Van Vleck’s 3rd floor.
On a snowy midnight stroll in November I took this picture of the Giant Tree in Hope’s winter wonderland
I took this picture at one of Mary’s apartment open house parties in the fall. This was the view from her porch with the Giant Tree
Mary posted some photos of the “graveyard’ after the tree was taken down.
Then this weekend my friend and I ventured over to its stump. Even that slight remnant is huge – I couldn’t take a picture of the whole stump while standing on it.
Me on the Giant Tree’s stump.
It was so big I couldn’t take a picture of the whole thing while standing on it.
The tree was impressive. It’s sad to see it go, but maybe in the spring we can plant a new one. And in 144 years Hope’s campus will once again have a towering presence on the hill beside Van Vleck.
Before you read this post, you should probably start this video and listen to the gloriousness that is this song. Okay, thanks.
Alright, now that you’ve pressed play, feel free to read!
On Tuesday of this week, President Knapp invited everyone to come over and stand outside of his house while they lit up a big tree in his yard for Christmas.
Then we sang Christmas carols, and on the last song, “Silent Night”, we all held candles! It was really cool! The Knapps also had snacks for us all and invited students to hang out on the patio behind their house. It was so awesome to be a part of the first tree lighting at Hope. It’s going to be such a cool tradition in years to come! Here are a few more pictures from the event!
Thanks for reading! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are enjoying a great start to the Christmas season! Make sure to leave a comment, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @hopekathryn17! I’d love to hear from you!
The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.
The anticipation, it’s just getting out of control. We’ve made it so far, but I still feel like its so far away. But it’s going to be okay when I wake up, because it will be Wednesday. Thanksgiving Break, freedom, but only for 4 days. It’s definitely better than nothing though. After break, there is going to be so much going on. It’s going to hectic, I’m going to get stressed, excited, nervous, anxious, and sleepy. It’s just going to be one pot of mixed emotions! After break, I figure out if I get accepted to the Vienna May Term, I have my SAC Director interview, I have my final assignments to turn in, then it’s time to get locked in the library and just S-T-U-D-Y, for exams. Then it’s actual freedom. A BREAK WITH NO HOMEWORK!
Anyways, today, I finished all of my assignments (with the exception of 1) for Thanksgiving Break and after. I feel so accomplished. I managed my time wisely and made good use of it. I am proud of myself to say the least. Because I accomplished such a huge task, I am rewarding myself during break with Black Friday shopping. It sounds weird, but it just makes sense.
New topic: Today, Hope College launched its first annual tree lighting near President Knapp’s house. What a great tradition. 50 years down the road, I’ll be able to say, “I was at the first lighting!” It was a great event to bring the student body together. More than 800 students showed up, COOL! The tree was lit, we sang carols, we had candles, and great food. Many said that this was weird as it wasn’t Thanksgiving yet. I say it’s totally appropriate seeing as there is already snow on the ground. This event is going in the books. Seriously, what a cool idea. Here are two of my favorite pictures I took tonight. Take a peek!
Well, that’s all I have for you tonight. Tomorrow will mark my last post until Thanksgiving Break! Stay tuned for more! If you haven’t already, follow me on twitter at @HopeMarvin15. God bless!