The Christmas season seems to come earlier and earlier each year. Just days after Halloween, Wal-Mart was flooded with tinsel and Christmas ornaments, and Orange City’s main street streamed with decorations. Even Northwestern’s campus is welcoming the early Christmas season with music and sweaters.
However, for some people an “early” Christmas season doesn’t exist.
“Former closet Christmas junky,” Kali Wolkow, celebrates Christmas 365 days a year. She is known for blaring Christmas tunes in the art building, at work and in her room all year long. The ironic thing is that Christmas isn’t even Wolkow’s favorite holiday — the Fourth of July is.
When asked why she likes Christmas so much, or even how she can stand the music all year long, Wolkow generally gives her short version of the answer:
“If anyone deserves to celebrate their birthday all year long, Jesus seems like a good option, don’t you think?”
Her passion for the Christmas season, or as she admits a possible obsession, goes beyond cheery music, Hallmark movies or even a celebration of Jesus’ birthday. It is deeply rooted in family and traditions.
“It has a lot to do with what helps my family be a family,” Wolkow said. “All of our family’s traditions are centered around Christmas.”
One dreaded tradition that makes Wolkow cringe is when the family holds hands around the tree and sings “Silent Night” and “O Christmas Tree” together.
“We hate it … but at the same time love how we all hate it together,” Wolkow said.
Other traditions in the Wolkow household include Christmas cookie decorating and stockings stuffed with presents from Santa. There is also a holiday meal of ham and homemade mac-and-cheese and an annual Christmas slumber party with her mother’s side of the family.
So how does the rest of the Wolkow family, who has a rule that “no Christmas music is allowed before December and none after,” respond to Wolkow’s year-round continuance of the Christmas celebration?
“I’m not even the black sheep in my family … I’m like the polka-dotted camel so it doesn’t even surprise them,” Wolkow said.
It is mostly Wolkow’s older sister Lexi who pushes for minimal festivities. Wolkow said her sister is a bit of a grinch when it comes to Christmas, and she even wears a shirt plastered with the Grinch’s face during twelve days of the Christmas season.
Wolkow believes that if allowed, the rest of her family would only welcome Christmas music beginning in November and possible a brief stint in January.
The acceptance of her strange preference of Amy Grant’s “I Need a Silent Night” over country classics or Top-40 hits goes beyond the walls of Wolkow’s home. Wolkow describes Samantha Rhoda, her roommate since sophomore year, as being “really supportive of my uniqueness in all things, including Christmas.”
Alexis Graves lived on Wolkow’s wing freshman year and remembers thinking her year-round celebration of Christmas as really strange. Now as a friend, she notices that Wolkow’s personality embraces the Christmas spirit.
“She puts her whole heart into giving gifts to people,” Graves said. “And she gives them all the time.”
As an art and journalism double major, Wolkow spends countless hours in the art building. Christmas music is her signature, and students and faculty alike know she is in the building when they hear the tune of Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” traveling down the hall in the middle of September.
Art professor Emily Stokes remembers walking down the hall to her morning drawing class and hearing Christmas music coming from the painting room. Not surprising, this isn’t an uncommon occurance for Stokes.
“It’s kind of a nice way to wake up,” Stokes said. “It kind of livens you up walking to class when you hear Christmas music.”
However, not everyone enjoys Wolkow’s music selection. Art student Lyric Morris admits to being “Scrooge, Grinch Lyric” because she has very strong opinions against Christmas music being played before Thanksgiving and after January.
“Personally, I think it’s kind of annoying,” Morris said. “I’m sometimes willing to put up with it, but I get annoyed.”
Regardless, Wolkow finds Christmas music comforting. It reminds Wolkow that her family in May and August and October is the same as the one in December.
Wolkow said, “When life starts falling apart and that peace is replaced with stress and joy is replaced with hardship [and] I need a little Christmas to remind me of God’s love and my family’s.”