Holiday Celebration Scholarship Winners
Dix Hills, NJ
Holidays. A loaded word. Spoken aloud, the memories play. Say “holidays”, and I am nine, with my mother, father and kid brother, sitting in a castle, watching the night sky for the moment the century turns, too young to know any better, but old enough to know: change is coming. Say “holidays”, and I am eleven, with my mother and kid brother, sitting in our home that once upon a time was a castle but now a prison. Say “holidays”, and I am sixteen, with my kid brother, huddled in two disconnected rooms, wondering what it was about life that brought us here. Say “holidays”, and I am eighteen, alone, sitting in a room that is not in my home, counting the days before I end it all. But then, something changed: we woke up. Some of us quickly, like my mother, who dashed back to my brother and I. Others slowly, like my father, who still isn’t quite sure of where he’s meant to be, with his new family or with me and my brother. But time doesn’t wait for indecision, and eighteen turned to twenty to twenty-five to today: say “holidays”, and I am twenty-nine, with my brother, mother and my own husband, sitting in a home that is neither castle or prison, but home nonetheless. We are all nestled together, under the bright lights, with battle scars of memory splashed against our clothes. Together. There is joy in together. There is hope. There is love.
High School Senior
“Thank you, Moneysolver, for helping streamline and cover part of the costs for my college payment process. To any students reading this now and putting off writing an application: submit! You never know :)”
Yesterday, my best friend Michelle drove home from Pittsburgh. This morning, I woke up to a text from her. Two words: “Cookies today?”
I knew exactly what she was talking about: Ina Garten’s thumbprint cookies, the kind we’ve been making since second grade. We roll the dough into balls, fill them with apricot jam, and wrap them up as presents for our families.
Baking is my favorite way to celebrate the holidays with my friends. Sure, we could go shopping, or go see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, but we would rather stay in and spend the hours baking together in our pajamas. We repeat tried-and-true recipes, but also try out desserts that have caught our eye in the time we were apart. Green tea macarons. Peanut butter brittle. We knead and bake, our hands covered in butter and our stomachs aching with those deep belly laughs that hurt a little.
People move away and visits become shorter. There’s more to do and less time. But more than a tree or mistletoe, it’s a thumbprint cookie with lemon jam that proves that holidays have arrived.