Admissions Blog: How first-years at Sweet Briar are celebrating the holidays

Bryanna Ortega
Bryanna Ortega (right) with her sister

There’s nothing quite like going home for the holidays — especially when it’s your first year of college. Maybe you’re catching a train, or packing up your car. Perhaps your parents and siblings are coming to pick you up on the last day of exams, or maybe you’re getting on a plane with a suitcase chock-full of last-minute gifts. No matter how you get there, what happens next is going to be magical and wonderful and unforgettable.

Bryanna at Macy's
Bryanna’s family at Macy’s in 2017

This is how some of Sweet Briar’s first-years celebrate the holidays:

Bryanna Ortega (Jersey City, N.J.), liberal studies major

“Some traditions we have in my family include decorating our tree together, taking an annual picture with Santa at Macy’s in New York City and visiting the tree in Rockefeller Center.

On Christmas Eve, we like to stay up until midnight to open our presents from each other and in the morning, our little sister opens her presents from Santa. I am so excited to go home for the holidays to see my family and friends again!”

Charlotte Hadley (Tiverton, R.I.), biology major/chemistry minor

“I am looking forward to being close to the ocean again. It is something I miss very much in the mountains at Sweet Briar. Living a mile away from the ocean makes the air different. It is definitely cooler because of the breeze, but it also seems different to me in a way that feels like home. Rhode Island also has many large bridges, and while I did not think I would miss driving thousands of feet into the air, I do miss the view.

Charlotte Hadley barn
Charlotte and some of her “barn family”

I am excited to spend time with my family and friends back home. I took a gap year before coming to Sweet Briar and spent every day at my old barn, Silverstone, in Rehoboth, Mass. I miss the people there just as much as my family because they became as close as family.

My family has started a new tradition in the last couple of years since we sold our house in Maine. We celebrate Christmas in a new place together: Destination Christmas we call it. This year, my family is going to the Keys in Florida to get away from the snow. We usually buy a Christmas tree a mile down the road at a potato farm that also grows Christmas trees. It is a deal because with every Christmas tree you buy, you get a free 5-pound bag of potatoes!”

Emily Wrenn (Franklin, Va.)

“I am looking forward to spending time with my family and friends over the holidays. I can’t wait to exchange college stories with my friends who are also in college now! I look forward to seeing my pets, too. I have two dogs and a cat, whom I love very much. A family friend of ours lets me work with her horses, so I look forward to seeing her and her fluffy ponies!

It is a family tradition for us to attend our church’s Christmas Eve service, and I look forward to it every year. The people of my church are so loving and friendly and make the holidays so special.”

Emily Wrenn family
Emily Wrenn and her family during the holidays

“Snuggling up on the couch with some hot cocoa and watching Christmas movies is by far one of my favorites! I also enjoy going to my grandma’s house to spend time with my family. My grandma (we call her “Mimi”) is such a great cook and does so much for us to make the holidays feel special. When we gather at her house, we’ll eat a fabulous meal and if we can stay awake long enough, we’ll watch some of our favorite Christmas movies. We always watch “A Christmas Story” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Christmas is absolutely my favorite holiday because it gives me quality time to spend with my family and friends. I am so thankful to be able to look forward to these traditions each year!”


See how we celebrate the holidays at Sweet Briar in this video.

Want to know more about the Class of 2022 and where they’re from? Check out our Student Profile.