The Excalibur Holiday Special!

(Courtesy of Riddhi Jani)

The holidays are meant as a break from the reality of the rest of the year. Whether it’s some time off work, school, or whatever you’re dealing with, winter is the season to take it easy for once. So kick back and relax, sit by a warm fireplace, grab a cup of hot chocolate, and enjoy our collectively cheesy favorite holiday memories.

Sarah Garofalo

There’s something in a snowfall that brings out the inner child in everyone. As a kid, we were almost like these little indestructible beings when it came to outdoor activities — we could bounce off the ice or be hit square in the face with a (mostly ice) snowball and shake it off like it’s nothing. But as I learned the hard way, that changes A LOT when you get older. In an attempt to hold onto some of that Christmastime jovial spirit, my friends and I decided to grab the cheapest sleds we could find and head to the local baseball pit turned sledding hill. This was in 2019 by the way, when we were all fully adults. I brought my long sled, while my friends grabbed those little circular saucers — you know, the ones that spin you so fast that you lose brain cells. Within the first slide down, we had all realized we made a grave mistake. Somehow those amateur slopes from our childhood became 90 degree tower-of-terror drops that actually had us seeing stars by the time we were through. 

Then came the final slide: my friends and I moved to a secluded part of the hill and shot down on our saucers, laughing and screaming like we were five again. But with every spin towards my friend in front of me, I watched the worry on her face grow. I then realized just WHY this part of the hill was secluded, as my sled did its final turn and I saw her absolutely flying in the air, feet above the ground, her sled a distant memory across the yard — all a result of her hitting a significant dip in the hill’s path. Using critical thinking, I barrel rolled off my board just before the dip, and let the snowy ground take over me. Somewhere in the distance, I heard her land. Above me, I heard the swooshing of my friends on the longer sled getting close and eventually running over my frozen body. And all across the pit, you could hear us all laughing so furiously that it made our ribs hurt almost as much as my friend’s cracked tailbone. 

So, maybe we’re not as shatterproof as we used to be. But there’s really quite nothing like spending holidays with friends to bring back out the fearless kid in you.

Jonathan Q. Hoidn
Co-Editor-in-Chief + Copy Editor

Finding one singular memory to talk about is tough. The older memories get, the more they seem to fade from my mind, and I credit that to being an oblivious child who never understood the importance of a meaningful childhood. I had to ask my family before writing this, “What did we do during the winter holidays when I was growing up?” Around the room I was met with confusion-filled eyes saying, “You don’t remember?” 

How could I forget leaving out milk and cookies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer. My sister and I would agree on a time to wake up and check our stockings together on Christmas morning, only to promptly rush into our parents’ room and jump onto their bed with our neatly-wrapped gifts. All of this seems to be pretty normal for most kids, and it all changed when I started to grow up.

After I graduated high school there were more opportunities to see how other people celebrate the holidays. I learned that large corporate Christmas dinner parties are very similar to weddings — you know about three people and the rest are strangers or distant relatives (or coworkers you never interact with). Those parties were always fun and festive, especially when people brought their kids who loved to wreak havoc on everything with evil in their eyes. It’s also the one place where my raffle prize has been continuously stolen by the intern (I’m onto you!) I also learned that a restaurant’s workplace Christmas party is consistently in January, and that there’s always a colossal amount of booze. Those are always an eventful time, and definitely one of those things where you never understand them unless you’ve been to one — restaurant workers sure know how to party hard.

Maybe I remember more than I realize, and maybe that’s for a reason. Afterall, the older my memories get, the more they seem to fade from my mind, but it’s only to make room for the new ones.

P.S. A new tradition of mine is showing everybody I know the Star Wars Holiday Special, just so they can see what can’t be unseen.

Riddhi Jani
Creative Director

I love winter time, especially when it’s from the comfort of a window and the warmth from a heater. Watching snowflakes form a smooth, white blanket over tree branches before covering the ground is truly something magical in its own right. And while I may not enjoy the brisk, cold winter air, or the muddy mess that becomes of the ground once all the snow melts, or the salt stains on my boots, I do appreciate the fact that some of my favourite memories have been during the holiday season. 

Growing up (and even now) the cold weather meant two things; one, spend as much time indoors as you can, and two, ask yourself if there is snow. If there is, can it be packed into a snowball or will it crumble at the slightest touch? The former meant the snow was perfect for building a snow fort (or two), which is exactly what my cousins and I did. What started off as a fun boredom-buster during the winter became somewhat of a tradition, and with each new year came a bigger, better snow fort that surpassed its predecessor. My favourite holiday memory is from five or six years ago. That season, the snow had been too fluffy to mold into anything solid, so my cousins and I had waited a couple of days until it slightly melted and became the ideal texture. Only, the snow melted and re-froze so now we had sheets of ice that we could scoop out. We were determined to hold up our tradition. Despite lacking a roof, our ice fort was pretty darn splendid, if I do say so myself. We weaved Christmas lights through the stacks of icy snow, added a tarp inside, and laid down to watch the starry night sky. 

While I am still not a fan of the winter season, if the opportunity arises, I might just call up my cousins and head out to revive our tradition and make new memories.

Nick Mokrzewski
News Editor 

I was born in November, have had pale skin all my life, and with each passing year I hate the sun more and more (really, because of the humidity that hits every summer, but my point still stands). Once my birthday passes, I immediately anticipate Christmas and have always loved the atmosphere surrounding it. I was raised by boomer parents and my mom loves it just as much as I do, so you know that it’s gonna be a festive time. Now, my family has had a very turbulent history. However, when my parents separated and the pandemic hit, I was able to devote more time to connecting more with my older siblings — for me, that was a major silver lining.

Around Christmastime, we have always maintained a pretty strict tradition since I was a kid; while setting up the tree and making Christmas themed cookies, we have this particular compilation CD we always put on titled Pop Christmas, which I’m pretty sure spans from the early 80s to the mid 90s. It’s got performances from Elton John, The Temptations, ABBA, and the greatest rendition of “Frosty the Snowman” by The Jackson 5 (I’ll fight you, it’s seriously the most organic and original take in history). It is a corny way of spending the holidays, but it’s better than being a Grinch.

Jannat Yaqobi
Assistant News Editor 

Oh the holidays — a time of joy, warmth, and slipping on ice. Whoops. 

As a proud winter baby, I always say with utmost surety that winter is my favourite season of the year. Snowflakes descending from the sky like glitter, those long-awaited holiday drinks, and let’s not forget those ever so enjoyable winter activities. Though I do not celebrate the particular holidays during this season, I nonetheless have many happy and core memories. 

Growing up and until now, during those cold nights, my brothers and I would gather in the living room with blankets and popcorn to watch (you guessed it) holiday movies. Back in “the good old days” of cable TV, TVO Kids (or for me, Channel 2) would play classic holiday movies from Home Alone to Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer. Each and every year my brothers and I would be so excited about which movie they would play that year, and it got better each time. 

Now that we don’t have cable TV, we have to decide what we want to watch, and boy, is that an endeavour. Who knew that choosing a film would be this hard? This is what happens with the power of choice: you NEVER end up actually making a choice. 

More than the movies, it was the experience and moment of being with my siblings, those laughs and sighs, and keeping tradition going. Even at this very moment, I’m still trying to decide what movie we will end up watching this year.

Jeanette Williams
Health Editor 

One of my best holidays came about unexpectedly; my parents’ divorce was settling and each had moved to a separate part of the U.S. My sister was in London and I was amidst a fresh breakup, alone in Toronto, having just moved here with my (now ex) partner the year before. I knew the holiday was going to be incredibly lonely and so to prepare, I had picked up a bottle beforehand to ensure I’d pass out by mid-afternoon — I wanted Christmas day and the days off from work to be as unmemorable and to go by as quickly as possible. But, somewhere in the day (about mid-afternoon actually), I had found a certain freedom in choosing the next holiday film and not asking for an opinion, in ordering a mass of all my (and only my) favourite Chinese dishes (and not having to share), and in not having to live up to any holiday standards set by anyone but myself. I didn’t have to decorate my apartment (or clean it afterwards). I didn’t have to answer questions about my future or my academic major to relatives that really had no business anyways. I didn’t have to play dutiful partner at any extracurricular family gatherings (lookin’ at you, ex). Most importantly, I didn’t have to put on pants. And as it turned out, the bottle stayed pretty full — and so did the holiday.

Kellissa Greene
Excalibur Co-op Student 

I currently don’t like the cold that much, so I think the winter holidays are best spent inside with a warm cup of hot chocolate and a good book. But, my favourite holiday memory was back in December 2018. We had just gotten quite a large amount of snowfall and my friend Isabella had texted in our group chat that we should go sledding. That idea didn’t work out, as we didn’t want to purchase anything, even though we ended up spending more money in the end than we would have if we just bought our sleds. After about 30 minutes of googling ‘fun things to do in the snow’ Isabella suggested we build a snow fort. I was originally against the idea because I didn’t think we could pull it off, but by three in the afternoon on that same Sunday, they changed my mind and I found myself in Dollarama looking for brick molds, castle molds, shovels, scoops, trowels, a tarp, and even a case of water (to act as the glue). 

By Tuesday we had gotten everything, and during our lunch break, we started constructing the snow fort. We had looked up cute bases on Pinterest, but it took five attempts before all three of us could agree on a picture to model it after — it was an oval with a slightly sharper point. By Friday after classes we had finally finished it. It was quite small now that I look back at it, but we were just happy we actually completed it. It was just under a metre in height, and the inside was just large enough to fit three small people inside. We decorated the inside with cheap outdoor rugs so we could sit, we had a small bean bag chair and lots of blankets. We had spent two more hours in the fort watching Home Alone, and all agreed to go back the next day to watch Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. It was cold and took a lot of work, but my friends and I had a lot of fun both building it and spending time inside. Till this day, it remains one of my happiest winter memories, even though we all ended up getting sick the next week. It was totally worth it.

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