“Love can sometimes be magic. But magic can sometimes…just be an illusion.”

Frost covered trees. Snowball fights. Twinkling lights. Love. It’s getting to be that time of year again where you get to witness countless annoying couples walking hand in hand through the freezing cold in a constant search for mistletoe.

The holiday season seems to be an open invitation for couples to pair off to give each other stupid lovey-dovey grins all day long.

It all starts with Thanksgiving. After Halloween, nobody has anything else on their minds but Turkey Day, and for some reason, it makes people want to find someone to spend the holidays with.

The prospect of spending time with your family by yourself becomes so horrible that people go on a desperate search to have someone there who is halfway decent in order to balance it all out. So the quest for love begins.

Usually in college people don’t have steady boyfriends or girlfriends. Occasionally you get the freaks who end up dating for more than two months at a time, but they are rare and it is not looked upon as normal. During the holidays, however, everything changes.

Around this time of year, people not only want to find someone, they want to be able to give them a really good gift. Many sleepless hours are spent thinking about how to give a better present to your current flame than your best friend is giving theirs.

It’s as if you’ve got a great big WINNER sign flashing over your head if you get to go out to the mall and ask the sales clerk if they think your boyfriend or girlfriend will enjoy that hideous sweater you’re holding up.

It’s not only about giving the best present though. It suddenly becomes a game as to who can have a significant other, and actually get a good present too. That’s all it seems to be about in college. Forget love and commitment. You date someone during the winter simply to get extra presents.

As cynical as that seems, I really believe it’s true for some people. Most people aren’t looking for the person they are going to spend the rest of their lives with, so dating is reduced to this game of give and take, until it becomes take, take, take, and the couple breaks up.

An endless cycle of meet, date, exchange gifts and, based on the face value of the gift, decide whether or not to continue dating. A good gift constitutes the continuation of the relationship. A bad gift doesn’t.

That giant stuffed gorilla with the pink bow in its hair that says “I go bananas over you” might not have been such a good idea. This is especially evident during the holiday season.

Love cannot be a game that is taken lightly. We are not all pawns in the chess game of life and love shouldn’t be that way either.

Many of my friends throughout the years have actually become attached to their holiday partner – although I can’t imagine why – and when their gift turned out to not be good enough, they were extremely hurt when they got dumped.

It’s been my experience that when someone is lifted to a new level of happiness by being in love, it usually just means he or she falls harder when they are hurt.

These people have been so brainwashed by the fairy tale of love and the winter wonderland it all takes place in that they have forgotten the reality of their situation.

If you are single now be wary of any new relationship that starts with the onset of the holidays. Sure, it’s great at the beginning – you go see the tree lighting, you dance to Christmas music together, you can watch the snow coming down while drinking hot cocoa – but then reality hits.

The tree comes down, if you hear *NSYNC’s Christmas album one more time you’ll puke, and you start to develop a rash from all that chocolate. The fairy tale goes out the door with the mistletoe, and you might end up hurt.

I implore you all, single or not, to find the holiday spirit in yourself this year. Don’t try and live up to some yuletide fantasy. The only person you’re going to be with your entire life is you. Don’t base your happiness on someone else’s life. Enjoy the holiday cheer by spending time with those people you really love, like your family or your friends, and you’ll be much happier this year.

So when you see those happy couples walking around with silly grins on their faces, take heart. Come January, they’ll probably be crawling back into the single life.

Amanda Weekes is a junior journalism major who is enjoying all the feedback from her columns. Please continue to send feedback to THETORCHN[email protected]