Not Just A Tradition

Every year, the week before Christmas break, the Residence Department hosts the senior ornament ceremony. Although many members of the Hockaday community haven’t heard of boarding’s holiday event, it is one of the resident department’s most cherished events. The purpose of our esteemed occasion, besides having a fabulous holiday party, is to honor our seniors and acknowledge that our time with them is limited.

Prior to the event, juniors request the senior to whom they wish to dedicate an ornament. A new tradition this year is the junior-senior mixer, which helped connect seniors and juniors before deciding who to request.

Soon after receiving the assignment, juniors got to work creating a masterpiece. Decorating the ornament is the most important task, because it is more than just an artistic representation. Every ornament is designed to depict each senior; her favorite color, place, food, anything that captures her essence.

The ceremony proves to be emotional every year. This year the evening began with the ceremony; rather than with dinner. Although each junior was only allowed 30 seconds to present her ornament, which I thought was a travesty, it was still enjoyable. It did make me yearn for last year’s ceremony, where each junior was free to give as verbose a speech as she liked.

After the ceremony, residence department picture, and hall pictures with Santa in front of the Christmas tree, we moved to a holiday themed dinner in the dining room.

This dinner captured the essence of Christmas; complete with dangling snowflakes, glittering lights and more mashed potatoes than anyone could ever want. And the with the richly colored table runners and warm room, I was especially reminded of Christmas at home.

I love this ceremony, but this year i was a bit disappointed. I feel like the purpose of the night is the speech each junior presents. Now that that is no longer a staple of the festivities and the speeched have been shortened, I worry about losing the tradition.

Putting the ornament on the tree is definitely the pièce de résistance. After every speech, each senior hangs her ornament on the massive Christmas tree in Great Hall. This highly decorated tree holds ornaments from boarders of years past. I believe this signifies the tradition and importance of the event. After graduating, some boarders even return to Hockaday to visit their ornament.

My favorite part of the night was going back to the dorms. We exchanged secret santa gifts at each of our hall parties while sipping Hockapunch and hot chocolate. While indulging in this Christmas tradition, we  exchanged gifts, reminisced on ceremonies of years past,  and swapped stories about our  plans for break. This part of the night was my favorite, because I get to bond with my sisters.

– Vivian Armitage