Humans of the Dub: Working towards an intentional year


Alex Payton, junior majoring in Public Health and Spanish, on her Christmas traditions. Photo courtesy of Alex Payton

Sunshine Angulo, Humans of the Dub - Head Editor

What December holidays do you celebrate around this time of the year?

“I celebrate Christmas with my family. I know this isn’t family-related, but Upperman [African American Cultural Center], the Black cultural center, does a pre-Kwanzaa celebration for the students which is more of a pan-African holiday. It’s a holiday that is celebrated more so by Black families. My family personally doesn’t celebrate it, but I’ve had a chance to celebrate with students and staff within Upperman on-campus. My freshman year I participated in the pre-Kwanzaa events, but when I’m home I celebrate Christmas with my family.”


Since most student organization events have been moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic, what did the pre-Kwanzaa events at the Upperman African American Cultural Center look like this year? How did this differ from a “normal” semester?

“Pre-Kwanzaa is actually a mix of the actual pre-Kwanzaa events and celebrating the fall graduates. Typically, we’ll talk about the Sankofa story, we’ll light the candles that celebrate each principle and say what they mean and represent, then we’ll recognize the graduating students. After that, we’ll usually have a big dinner that’s catered with UNCW, but we have, you know, our Black foods. That’s how we usually do it. This year it was all virtual on Zoom. We had a video presentation of people lighting the candles and talking about the principles of Kwanzaa. Then, they went on Instagram live to present the video. As far as recognizing the fall graduates, they did a ceremony on Zoom—kind of how the University did the graduation livestream recently. That’s how they did it this year.”


More on Christmas, do you usually have extended family or friends come out to celebrate? How is your Christmas celebration different with the coronavirus pandemic?

“Typically, it’s usually just me and my immediate family staying home for Christmas. Sometimes we might go back to where I was born and my home state, Mississippi. We’ll go down there and see our grandparents and cousins. I think the last time we did that was about two years ago. Normally, we’ll just stay home. My uncle may come over, but that’s about it. We usually don’t have too many family friends because our house isn’t big. This year it’s definitely just going to be us. We’re not going to inviting a lot of people and stuff.”


Are there any Christmas traditions you and your family do? What does a typical Christmas day look like at the Payton residence?

“All of my siblings and I are moved out. This is the first Christmas where us coming together versus us already being home. It’s a different transition because we’ve all grown up and moved out. This year we started this new thing. It’s so cheesy. We all have matching pajama sets, you know, the family thing. This year we’re going to have that and a game day with family, hot chocolate and s’mores. We do the other typical stuff like get out of bed, run downstairs, have breakfast and open your gifts. We just watch TV and stuff like that. Nothing too crazy. The pajamas will definitely be a first for us. I think that’s going to be a new tradition. You got to spice it up with ‘rona. She’s acting up.”


What are the best gifts you’ve given to your family and the best gifts you’ve received?

“Oh man. I’ll be honest—I’m the worst gift-giver ever. I don’t give anyone’s gifts on time. They’re usually like a month or two after the occasion. So, what I’ve learned to do is to just CashApp my family and be like ‘Here’s some money.’ If I know they have a specific store they like, I’ll give them a gift card. For my mom, me and my siblings will chip in and give her a combined gift. Sometimes we’ll get her Pandora charms for her bracelet. The best gift I’ve probably given is something to my mom because I don’t like my siblings that much. I just give my siblings money. She’s a huge Green Bay Packers fan. I gave her a blanket set that had her favorite quarterback. The best gift I received—that’s a hard one. I would probably say my phone and my MacBook. Apple is expensive, so anything Apple is a good gift. Amen.”


What are the worst gifts you’ve received from anyone?

“I’ve never received any bad gifts because me and my friend recognize that we’re broke college students. We don’t give each other gifts anymore. My mom is pretty good with giving gifts. Whatever my siblings can afford is great. I don’t really expect anything from them. This wasn’t a Christmas gift, but someone did CashApp me $1 one time saying, ‘I hope you can get yourself something nice.’ I was like ‘I don’t know if I should be offended or what. Look please take this back. Please take this back.’ They were so serious about it. I figured it’s the thought that counts, but I do not want this. No ma’am.”


Now that we’re approaching the end of the year, what are some New Year’s resolutions you want to do?

“Yes. Oh, my goodness. I have a ton. I think my first goal is music content. I really enjoy singing and I created this page for fun. I’m not trying to get famous or anything. I just want to get into that. I also had this idea for a while. I want to start a podcast, but I haven’t done anything to plan it. I have what I want to talk about. I have the name, but I just got to go out and do it. I want to be more intentional about my health by going outside more. I don’t go outside with all the online classes and stuff. I just don’t have the motivation anymore. To just exercise and eat healthier and cleaner is something I want to do to. Those are my top three resolutions. I also want to be more open to making more friends and the environment that we’re at. It’s hard to reach out to people, but I’m wanting to be intentional about deepening friendships I’ve created over the years and spreading myself too thin. This past semester I feel like I’ve just been everywhere at once. I was so, so involved and over the summer, especially. I was so drained. Next year I just want to be more intentional about deepening connections, narrowing in on things, and not doing too much. Ain’t nobody got time for that.”