A Project for Better Journalism chapter
In Focus

Students recall winter memories

The winter sun casts thin rays of warmth, but there are already ripped wrappers scattered all over the floor. Four year old Vanessa Pereira wanted nothing to stand between her and her tricycle. But a knock on the door stopped her.

“There was a woman and a man,” Pereira, now a freshman, said. “They said ‘Merry Christmas,’ dumped a sack of gifts on the floor, and left. That was the first and last time that I saw them.”

Pereira was confused by this incident. She didn’t know what to do: continue to play with her already opened toys or succumb to her curiosity and tear apart those colorful wrappings.

When her parents came home, they opened the presents.

“They were expensive gifts,” Pereira said. “All these glow-in-the-dark and drawing toys.”

Even though she didn’t know the real reason behind it, Pereira believes that the toys from the two people weren’t simply an act of kindness.

“Now that I think about it,” Pereira said. “It was probably because they didn’t have kids, and so they gave us gifts.”

As winter approaches, the chilly weather sweeps in, heightening anticipation for the upcoming winter break. It is a time to remember past holidays and the memories they created.

For sophomore Jason Nguyen, his special memory was the arrival of snow in Houston when he was in sixth grade. In the middle of the day, Nguyen was called to the front office; his dad wanted him home before the snow would congest the roads.

“[My classmates and I] were looking at the snow from the classroom window,” Nguyen said. “When they heard I was going home, they looked at me and said, ‘Take me with you.’”

But when Nguyen arrived home, he was disappointed by the lack of snow. However, his disappointment soon dissolved: there was more snow on the roof.

“My dad got on top of the roof with a ladder,” Nguyen said. “He was shoving ice into buckets, and all our neighbors were watching.”

With more snow on his hands, Nguyen invited his friends over his house when they were dismissed from school. An intense snowball fight ignited. The neighbors also joined in.

“It hurt so badly when we threw snowballs at each other,” he said. “It felt like rocks.”

Although, it was embarrassing to see his dad on the roof, Nguyen treasured every second of it.

“In my neighborhood, we don’t really get out a lot, so being able to go outside and get my dad involved—he’s usually just sitting around, watching football—it means a lot,” he said.

Sophomore Inmer Carbajal remembers a planned event when he was nine years old. Carbajal, his immediate family, and extended family arranged to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas together.

“My whole family and I didn’t get together since I was two,” Carbajal said. “We just decided to have a family reunion to remember how it was in the old days.”

They went to the malls, arcades, and laser tag.

Carbajal appreciates that his distant family was able to take time from their busy lives and gather together.

“Just hanging out with everybody made me happy,” Carbajal said, “just to see everybody together.”

When she was about seven years old, junior Kimberly Salmeron believed in Santa Claus. On Christmas Day, she woke up and saw that there weren’t any presents where she expected them to be. To her, no presents meant no Santa.

“I got sad, so I went back to my bed, crying,” Salmeron said. “I was like, ‘Santa isn’t really real.’”

Then, there were shuffling noises. It was coming from the chimney of her house.

“We were like ‘oh my god,’” Salmeron said. “We ran, and then saw the presents there.”

Through all the excitement, the noises were still there, and they attracted Salmeron and her family’s curiosity. Hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa, they found a much smaller being.

“We looked up the chimney, and there was a rat that had crawled up,” Salmeron said. “It was hilarious!”

Like Carbajal, there was also a small reunion in Salmeron’s family. Salmeron was able to spend Christmas with both her parents.

“I usually don’t spend time with both my parents. It’s usually either my mom or my dad,” Salmeron said. “It was really nice because I got to share something with my family.”

While they occurred a few years ago, the spontaneity of these events makes them memorable. Nguyen looks upon these memories as something to cherish.

“We don’t get those moments often,” he said.