KC Christmas Cheer

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many Christmas traditions have changed. This feature delves into KC traditions that have changed, stayed the same, or evolved.


by Anna Cucar, Photo Editor

As we get closer to the holidays, families around Kansas City are preparing for Christmas. From Brookside neighborhood lights to Christmas gift-giving, holiday traditions are here. On the drive to STA via Ward Parkway, the gleam of Christmas lights illuminate dozens of houses. From left to right, each house embodies the Christmas spirit. With this drive down Ward Parkway, the Brookside neighborhood lights have become a staple, exemplifying many Christmas traditions. Though the Brookside neighborhood lights are popular with many families, Kansas City offers many other light shows, some of them including the Plaza lighting ceremony, Deanna Rose Christmas show, and Candy Cane Lane.  STA students enjoy a variety of these as part of their own holiday celebrations.“On Thanksgiving, every year my family and our neighbors, the Batz’s, walk down to The Plaza Lighting Ceremony, ” junior Claire Lystad said. “We hang out, have dessert, and watch the lights turn on. It’s the best!”She said that this tradition has been a part of hers and the Batz’s families for a long time. “We’ve done this from the beginning of time,” Lystad said. Freshman Emmy Weber shares a similar KC light-show tradition. “[My family] usually bring[s] some blankets and get hot chocolate before [the show]. We like to go to Caribou coffee,” Weber said. Many KC Christmas traditions in families include gift-giving. Whether that’s a white elephant party, a gift exchange, or secret Santa, gift-giving is a unique way to share the Christmas spirit. For Weber, her family does things a little differently. She describes her non-traditional gift-giving as a fun way to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas.“We always like to prank each other with our gifts,” Weber said. “One time, my dad wrapped my sister’s gift in a ton of tape. Then, he wrapped a brick in wrapping paper and gave it to my cousin. She was so excited because it was really heavy, and was wondering what it was. But it was just a brick. ” For Lystad, gift-giving is more conventional. “On Christmas morning, my immediate family and I all get together to open gifts. Then, we do a secret Santa that night with the rest of my family,” Lystad said. She recounts her Christmas festivities being a part of her family for a long time. “The Lystad family Christmas is a big deal,” Lystad said. “These traditions have been going on on my dad’s side of the family for years. He did this with his cousins when he was younger; now we do it with my generation of cousins.” Christmas gift-giving is a meaningful tradition for both Lystad and Weber, even though one tradition could be considered less serious than another. Though some traditions stayed the same throughout COVID-19 the pandemic has affected many people’s holiday celebrations. For freshman Margot Stuckey, Christmas in the year 2020 was unusual for her family. Stuckey says that for years, they had gathered with their close family friends. “Usually, we have a game night and decorate cookies,” Stuckey said. However, the pandemic changed their plans. “During COVID, my mom got sick. So, we spent the whole Christmas day watching Harry Potter in our pajamas.” Being back to normal is very exciting for Stuckey and her family. For Lystad, the most fundamental part of Christmas is being with family. COVID affected their family very directly since. Traditionally, her extensive family always gets together, one way or another. “I have family from Poland, Brazil, Chicago, Kansas City, Ohio, New York, Nashville, and D.C. 2020 was the year we couldn’t do anything,” Lystad said. This year, Lystad plans on participating in her KC traditions, as well as her familial ones. Christmas is a season that is very meaningful to STA students, as well as KC. From funky gift-giving games to light shows, traditions are all around us. KC supports some of the most heartwarming festivities around the holiday season that will influence generations in this city to come.