From the editor:

'Tis the season

Dec. 13, 2017

“We’re looking for a Fraser fir taller than 10 feet.” It’s how we start the conversation every single year at the Christmas tree farm we’ve been going to for more than a decade. That’s always followed up with, “Oh right, you’re the people who used to take home giant trees in a convertible.”

christmas tree in convertible car

Yep. That was us. The crazy people who carted home trees, sometimes 14-feet tall, stuffed into the back of a Camaro SS convertible. It was part of our tradition. We’d cut down a ginormous tree, get it drilled and wrapped and then stuffed into the car’s passenger seat. One of us would drive it home while the other would follow behind in our other car.

People stared, took pictures and laughed. I like to think it was our way of bringing a little holiday cheer to the community. It’s fun that even years after selling that car and using an appropriate Jeep instead, people still remember our tradition as strongly as we do. That’s the great thing about traditions – even when they change, the memories never leave.

Another thing I love about our tree tradition is that the farm is owned by a Spartan. Not just any Spartan, but a retired forestry researcher who just happens to be an expert in the biological and economic aspects of Christmas tree production. So, not only do we get a beautiful tree, it’s a beautiful result of Spartan research.

Christmas treeI love when I can put a little Spartans Will into my holiday traditions. That has a lot to do with the color scheme of my real tree. (I also have a fake multi-colored one in another room and one my grandmother made out of pinecones I helped her collect when I was a child. What can I say? I love holiday decorations.)

Speaking of Spartans Will, here at the U we took a little time to celebrate the uncommon will Spartans bring to everything we do in a fun nod to the holiday season. Check out our HOLIDAY GREETING to bring a little Spartan magic to your celebrations. 

Spartan magic isn’t limited to December, or any time of the year. The wonder of discovery and the power of positive change happens every single day in the Spartan Nation.

Andrew Dennhardt, a doctoral student in the departments of Fisheries and Wildlife and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior, works a little of his magic in the autumn. His research interest involves migratory patterns of birds and using them to estimate populations, particularly golden eagles. Check out his STUDENT VIEW: Estimating eagle populations, to learn about how using new methods that involve citizen-scientists can help with conservation efforts.

Last spring, Barbara Schneider, a John A. Hannah University Distinguished Professor of education and sociology, was recognized for the Spartans Will she puts into her work in education reform and student engagement. She received a prestigious honorary doctorate from the University of Helsinki, along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö. I’d say that makes her kind of a big deal. Watch the short video in the FACULTY VOICE: International honor, to learn more about this esteemed Spartan.

But, back to this time of year. Not only is it the holiday season for many of us, but it’s the time of year when MSU’s tradition is to hand out our own degrees and send a new crop of Spartans out into the world to make tomorrows better for all of us. This weekend, more than 2,700 Spartans will graduate and participate in commencement ceremonies. Then they’ll be off to places near and far, putting a little Spartans Will in everything they do, too.  

No matter if your tradition is stuffing a large tree into a small car, lighting candles every night, having special feasts, exchanging gifts, participating in ceremonies or having quiet days with family, be grateful for all you have. Be kind to one another. Do your part to make the world a better place and share your gifts widely. Find your magic and always put a little Spartans Will in everything you do.

Spartans Will.

Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone

Photo by Derrick L. Turner