Sahar’s wonderland

Making Snowmany Memories


Sahar Karim, Writer

While snow may be something very familiar for US citizens, this was my first time ever experiencing a snowy winter. It’s surprising to me how the temperature falls all at once. One night, there is no snow- then you wake up with 4-5 inches of snow in the morning with completely different weather.

The holiday season is kind of similar back in Pakistan, but there still are significant differences. We don’t have snow in my region, but it’s windy and cold during winter. Because we don’t have snow, ice skating isn’t a thing in my region. 

Different experiences are always fun. I went ice skating during the holiday break for the very first time. It was pretty complicated at the beginning, but my friends helped me balance, and after a while I was doing it with lots of fun. I was afraid to fall again and again, but seeing people fall no matter what age they were encouraged me to have fun. I also visited a pizza buffet after ice skating. It was fun trying different veggie pizzas for only $10. Back home, I never went to a buffet. It was a nice experience. 

Before the holiday season began, we started Christmas decorations right after Thanksgiving. We put up the Christmas tree and decorated it with all the different ornaments. I put Christmas decorations all around the house with my host family. Setting up the Christmas lights was my favorite part, as they brightened up the whole house and brought on a holiday feeling.

On the 1st of December, the city held the holiday parade. Seeing all the preparations for the holiday season made me thrilled. It was my first ever holiday parade. Seeing kids bundled up with warm clothes and excited for the parade made me realize how big of a deal the holiday season is. Everyone waved at the Army car passing by, welcoming everyone who performed at the parade. I liked how the Santa balloon was flying all the way to the parade and the dance team following it dancing with all the excitement. 

I have been loving the different seasonal decorations in the US. Back home we only have occasional decorations for our houses. Getting to experience the specific decorations for each season was wonderful. The Christmas lights kind of resemble the lights during our independence day where the majority of the 

places are lit up with lights. Other than that, we also have lights on during Ramadan for the whole night which sort of lights up the city. In the major cities, all the markets and shops remain open throughout the night which also lights up the places. 

This year, I also got to experience the EAA museum festival. I met Santa for the first time and wrote a letter to him. I even received a letter back! It was unexpected and surprising at the same time. Seeing all the choir teams perform and sing Christmas songs reminded me of the folk songs that older Pakistani women sing during happy

occasions. The dance teams that performed reminded me of the different cultural dances back home performed during different programs and the holidays. The languages and the stories may be different, but music is universal. It transcends language and borders.

Having my first experience of the snow in the US was really interesting. I made my first ever snowman with my Journalism class and had the best day with them. Carrying balls of snow on my palms and everyone giving me directions on creating the snowman was a wonderful experience. I also visited the Oshkosh celebration of lights, and the setup of the lights was amazing. The lights reflecting the water and the different light colors forming snowmen was breathtaking. The best part was driving through the lights and listening to the music being played on the radio.

My first snowman.

It was one of the coolest things I got to experience.

The holiday season is one of my favorite seasons. I got to experience a white elephant gift exchange game with my friends, which is really smart and clever. Back home, when there is an event where you give gifts to your friends–like the New year–we give gifts to all of our friends separately, which gets confusing at times. I think it is a cool idea to just get one gift and do a gift exchange party with all of your friends. Another difference that I found is we don’t really open our presents in front of the person who gave it to us. We believe it is awkward for them. Here in the US, everyone opens the presents in front of the person that they got so they can see their reaction. And I have been doing this too. 

Having different experiences out of your comfort zone is the greatest experience one can have. As I look back on the holiday season I spent in America, I see that the little or big experiences that I’ve had so far are truly precious. I can’t wait to experience more and explore more in my host state.