Over the long weekend, while I sat on my sponsor family’s couch and watched movies with them, I found myself considering the many costume possibilities for the upcoming Halloween dinner. Yes, holidays are celebrated within the Corps of Cadets, too! In fact, they are some of the most entertaining events of the year! For Halloween, all the cadets throw on whatever goofy costume they can conjure up, and we eat dinner together in the wardroom and participate in a costume contest. This is followed by the real gem of the evening – trick-or-treating on the hill where the Superintendent and the other Academy leaders live! And we’re not just talking about Hershey bars – cadets receive privileges such as extra liberty, late racks (a.k.a. sleeping in), positions like “Commandant of Cadets for a Day”, and all sorts of other prizes that beat candy corn any time! (Actually, maybe not candy corn…but definitely Twizzlers. And Tootsie Rolls.)
Thanksgiving is more low-key since cadets go on leave for the holiday. Many cadets are able to go home to see their families, but unfortunately, the limited time makes that impossible for others. The wardroom serves a Thanksgiving meal for those who are staying at the Academy for some reason, perhaps not enough time to travel far distances or for sports. Since I wasn’t able to go home my 4/c and 3/c year, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my sponsor family – they were gracious enough to let me stay with them for the entire leave period, and even eat all of their mashed potatoes. This year, I am absolutely thrilled to be going to home for the first time, as I qualified for extra time off to recruit potential cadets in my home state of Nebraska! The Admissions office gives some cadets permission to miss a couple days of classes prior to Thanksgiving leave as long as they visit high schools to talk about the Academy and try to get students interested. I can’t wait to see my family again, and for even more time than in a usual school year!
Christmastime at the Academy offers the chance to decorate for the weeks before finals and leave. Just as long as you don’t wreck anything, you can come up with all sorts of creative ways to brighten up your room! Last year, my roommate and I went crazy covering the walls with wrapping paper and creating a winter wonderland on the deck! It was quite festive, if I do say so myself! There are also some fun events on base; my favorite is the Lessons and Carols service. The Glee Club performs several Christmas songs at the chapel, with each song accompanied by a reading from the Bible. The lights are dimmed, and the whole congregation holds candles – and what a congregation it is, I might add! It is so wonderful to see the pews filled with so many people; it brings a new feeling of life to the quiet chapel!
In the spring semester, cadets are given a weekend off to celebrate Easter in whatever way they choose. Again, I’m not able to go home for this weekend, but I have been blessed with loving families that let me join them for that holiday! My 4/c year, a couple from the Officers’ Christian Fellowship took me with them to their church, which is an Episcopalian church just like mine at home. I’ve since been back to that church as much as possible. It is so much like the one I grew up in back in Nebraska; my first Academy Easter was made all the more special for God introducing me to a friendly congregation and a service so familiar! Last year, as a 3/c, I went with one of my best friends, Sulli, to New York City (one of my favorite places!) and spent the time with her mother and friends. We saw a show on Broadway, visited the 9/11 memorial, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, and simply enjoyed the sights of the city. I don’t know what I would do without people like Sulli and her mother sharing their holiday with me!
Please don’t assume from this entry that it’s not hard being away from my family during these important days; I always miss them the most when celebrations roll around. But, I’ve found that there are plenty of people and things to help make my holidays special in a different way while I go through life here. I’m very thankful for those blessings, and they help keep me going and allow me to enjoy my time here. That being said, the best holidays are undoubtedly the ones with my family in the land of corn and cows.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to find some accessories for my Halloween costume – time to search “flapper headband” on Amazon…
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