December 2015

For many, holidays are a struggle




As students gathered outside Seby Jones following the Christmas program celebration given by the Saint Augustine’s University’s Music and Fine Arts department, many were in the Christmas spirit. The program had featured the singing of the Gospel Choir and readings from the Reader’s Troupe and the sounds of the concert band.

The fact that Kasey Thompson, a freshman education major from Ohio, was among those celebrating the season was a remarkable testament to the program’s uplifting nature. The holidays are a joyous time for most, but for many who have difficulties in their personal lives, the holidays can be a source of depression.

“Christmas is a really hard time of year for me,” Thomson said. “While others spend it with family and friends opening gifts and just being full of cheer, I spend it in morning I lost my family.”

The morning he was talking about happened about four years ago. Thompson’s parents and younger brother and sister were killed in a tragic car accident in Dayton Ohio in 2011 on the way to Thompson’s high school graduation.

“I’ve been on my own since the age of 17, working two jobs to make a living and to pay my way through school, so Christmas is very bittersweet for me,” he continued. “I’m glad that, this year, I am able to view Christmas in a more positive light than I have been able to do in the last past couple of years. Christmas was my parent’s favorite time of year, not because of all the gifts they could buy for us but because they honored the institution of family-making memories and being together.”

Other students at Saint Augustine’s share similar stores. John Tappman, a senior music major from Anderson, South Carolina, has not spoken to his parents since his freshman year. “I spend every Christmas locked up in my room waiting for the day to be over,” he said. “I have no family here and my family in South Carolina does not want to be bothered with me.”

Thompson and Tappman share an interest in is music. Both agreed that it helps them get away from all problems that life brings is through.

“Music makes me happy when I should be sad,” Thompson said. “It takes me to a different world. The worst is when the song is over but, for a moment in time, my world comes to a complete standstill.”

“Music is what consumes my thoughts,” said Tappman. “It makes me view my life in a totally different way.”

Both Thompson and Tappman have decided to spend Christmas in a different way this year; no sitting around locked in the house. But both have made the choice to go downtown Raleigh and volunteer at a soup kitchen.

Thompson and Tappman agreed that if you’re looking for the perfect gift to give your loved one this holiday season, give the gift of music.

— Devin Paylor