Everyone seems to have a tradition during the holidays. For me, it’s watching the Polar Express the same night I put up my Christmas tree. Adam receives a new ornament from his family. Regan and her husband make it a point to see The Nutcracker when it comes through town. And Regina transforms into a walking Advent Calendar.
The spotlight is on Regina in this month’s College of Charleston employee newsletter for the pins she wears every day for the month of December. Thank you to Marketing and Communications for the feature!
It may have been on the Starbucks menu since October, but you’re pretty sure it’s still too early for an Eggnog Latte, and – despite what’s on the airwaves – you’re not quite ready to “deck the halls” just yet either. Maybe it’s the daily grind or, perhaps, the 70-degree temperatures, but so far you’re just not feeling it. And, of course, you’re not alone – the holiday spirit can be a terribly elusive thing for all of us. Thankfully, however, Regina Semko always has it pinned down.
“The pins get everyone in the holiday spirit,” says Semko, who – as a self-described “walking Advent calendar” – every year dons however many holiday-themed pins correspond with the date, starting December 1. Last December 2, for example, she wore two snowflakes; by December 5, she was wearing a gingerbread man, a Christmas tree, a wreath, a bell and a poinsettia; and by December 20, well, you can imagine the embellishment! “It starts to weigh me down a little bit,” admits the assistant to the dean of the Graduate School, who started the tradition in the 1980s. Since then, her collection of holiday pins has continued to grow, filling her wooden box to the brim with broaches representing anything and everything remotely holiday: candy canes, carolers, reindeer, candles, stockings, holly, angels. “I have metallic ones that are more classy, and then there are the colorful, plastic ones that the children love,” says Semko, picking a cloth star and a felt snowman out of the bunch. “I kind of like the handmade ones, like these – and I like the ones that are a little out there,” she adds, selecting a green-haired troll dressed like Santa. “He’s a conversation starter.”
The pins certainly trigger a lot of conversations – and, Semko hopes – a lot of cheer, as well. “Just pulling out the box helps put me in the mood every year,” she says – although, she admits it doesn’t always come easy. “It can be pretty time consuming. I have to either put them all on the night before, or wake up a half an hour early. There is a lot of commitment here!”
But it’s all for a good cause: Spreading the holiday cheer. So, next time you’re in need of a little boost, Semko says, don’t hesitate: “Just take a look at my chest!”