By: Lio Salazar, Contributor
The season is giving, and I am honored to be giving you a lovely holiday interview with both a November and December Sagittarius. Born in November, Canisius’s own Editor-in-Chief of The Griffin Ava C. Green knows how to bring the most gorgeous eyes, warmest smiles and slightly burnt apple pies to a room. She has been my “bestiana” since freshman year, and I am constantly in awe of all of the accomplishments she has. Ava is also an active member of Phi Sigma Sigma, a fashion icon on her Instagram and truly just a friend to all who meet her.
On the opposite side of the Sagittarius season, December’s Michael Dobrasz is the president of Little Theatre (LT). I’ve had the pleasure of being able to call Michael my friend since he was silently screaming at a Bills game during a rehearsal for the Canisius Chorale freshman year. Michael is one of my most reliable friends, able to offer a compliment, a joke or a hug at a moment’s notice. Michael’s impressive resume not only includes being president of LT, but also president of the Canisius University Chorale, a member of Dr. Morris’s research team “The Bird Nerds” and a lover of cat memes. In the spirit of the holidays, I sat down with Ava and Michael to talk about their reasons for the season.
Scorpio season is the time to uncover truths about ourselves, and Sagittarius season reinvigorates our senses of adventure. What’s a new trait you’ve discovered (or an old trait you’ve rediscovered) for yourself that you’re using and embarking with for the upcoming holiday season?
Ava: Fun fact: I’m right on the cusp of Scorpio season, so I do identify with a lot of Scorpio-esque qualities, but I feel like [Lio has] told me I’m a pretty tried and true Sag. Still, this holiday season, I think I’ve rediscovered my love for Christmas. Well, I’ve always loved Christmas, but in the last few years I have felt noticeably less festive than years prior — I’m always at school and away from home during the build-up to Christmas (which is the best part). It’s been a challenging semester for me: just crazy and busy and stressful, like everyone else's, and I needed to focus on the Christmas spirit for my own wellbeing. When I went home for Thanksgiving, the rest of my family was also really feeling the burnout, and we just went full force into Christmas mode to make ourselves feel a little better… and it worked. I’ve made some of my favorite memories in the past few weeks while singing Christmas songs, trimming trees and looking at pretty lights. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, but this year, I’m definitely more aware and grateful for it all.
Michael: I would say that a trait I have rediscovered is my optimism and positive mindset. Finding goodness in all situations and not dwelling on minor inconveniences is something I am good at. That includes not being bothered by a losing Bills team. I am trying my best to buy into the joys of the holidays, and I want to embrace kindness to its fullest. Even if people aren’t fully genuinely kind to one another on Christmas, at least they are being kind. Winter break also means more opportunities to spend time with my cats.
One of the main traits of Sagittarius and their fellow fire signs is their creativity. What would you say is your favorite project, personal or professional, that you’ve had the privilege of working on in your time here at Canisius?
Ava: I feel like my favorite is always whatever project I’m working on at that moment — whatever’s freshest to me is always what I’m going to find most exciting. Besides all of my creative ventures with The Griffin, my favorite being my short stint as an advice columnist, I’m really into this immersion piece I’m doing on Wendie Reed and The Scoop Shop on Elmwood. My professor wanted us to write a long-form piece that captures a place. I love shopping and clothes, so it’s awesome being close to the action. Plus, I just love projects where I get to step into someone else’s shoes. Wendie’s been so excited to have me at the shop, too. I’m not sure if she knows, but we’re kinda besties.
Michael: My favorite project has probably been directing 12 Angry Jurors for Little Theatre. I have acted with LT since my first semester freshman year, and I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to direct a show this semester. Directing allowed my co-director Matt and I to convey our personal image of the play’s powerful message. The cast and crew did so much to help our image come to life, and I appreciate them all.
Many Sagittarians tend to enjoy the holiday season because of the time they get to spend inspiring the ones they love. What’s one of your favorite holiday stories with your family?
Ava: This isn’t a story, but my family does have very strange and specific traditions that we stick to for the holidays. We get together on Christmas Eve, and including aunts, uncles, grand-babies, family friends and everything in between, there’s usually about 25 of us crammed together. After mass, we’d have all of the “kids” — family members between the ages of able-to-walk-and-babble to about 20 — line up from youngest to oldest, and we wait to be allowed to run to my Nonno and Nonna’s Christmas tree to open our presents from them. For a while, I was always at the very front of the line ‘cause I was the youngest cousin — those were the days. Then, we’d be signaled to charge the tree by one of my uncles blowing this little brass bugle horn super loud. And, no, I can’t provide you any reasoning or context, ‘cause I never got it either.
Michael: One of the stories that comes back a lot is about me in the Christmas musical when I was in third grade. I may have done something during a performance that got me on the naughty list.
[Michael would provide no further context on such.]
It’s said that Sagittarians have a great sense of humor. Do you have a favorite holiday joke or pun?
Ava: What type of motorcycle does Santa ride? [Oh, gee, Ava, I don't know! What kind dooooes he ride?] Why, a HOLLY Davidson, of course.
Michael: What do you give a Christmas tree with bad breath? OrnaMINTS. [It’s not too funny, but I do like giving people mints.]
Sagittarians love a good amount of healthy chaos and thrive well in it. That said, do you help cook holiday meals, and what’s your favorite dish to make?
Ava: If I had it my way, I’d cook the entire holiday meal — I love to cook and bake. I definitely live up to the stereotype of being VERY chaotic in the kitchen, too. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth myself, but I love baking any type of pastry or pie that means I get to make a dough or that has, like, a million steps. I love a good challenge in the kitchen, which certainly adds to the chaos. My dad is my favorite person to bake for, because he just loves everything I make. It’s cheesy, but especially because I don’t really love sweets, the best part is watching people enjoy what I made them. My dad goes crazy for my chocolate chip cookies, even though they’re the simplest thing I make. He always eats them all in a few days and will do a little dance into the kitchen to sneak extras before my mom can yell at him. Long story short, I guess chocolate chip cookies are probably my favorite to make.
Michael: Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year, partially because of the Polish meal we eat. Every year, my family comes over and we have a traditional meatless meal. I don’t help every year, but I know this year I am going to help roll out the dough for pierogies. I particularly like the sauerkraut perogies we make. I am not the best at baking, but I do enjoy frosting cookies.
Speaking of the holiday season, what’s your favorite song for this time of year?
Ava: Oh my god, Lio, how do I pick? Can I choose three? Okay, good. In no particular order: “Merry Christmas, Darling” by the Carpenters and “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney. Honorable mentions: “Last Christmas” by Wham! and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love. I’m sorry, I just really, REALLY love Christmas music.
Michael: My favorite pop holiday song is “Last Christmas” by Wham!. Even though I hear it like a million times, I still love it. For more classic songs, I enjoy “The First Noel” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Also, I recommend Twisted Sister’s Christmas album for anyone who likes rock renditions of Christmas songs.
To finish this out, what projects are you working on for next semester?
Ava: Next semester will be the first time in a while that my courses aren’t stacked with a ton of reading and writing for me to do. I’m kind of scared, because that’s the schoolwork I’m good at and know I can breeze through. Mostly, though, I’m excited to take the time to do some personal, more artistic writing. It gets really hard after a while to have to write for so many things all the time. This semester, I had to do more academic writing, where in the past a majority of the writing I was doing was for The Griffin. I’m not sure if it makes sense, but when I have too many different projects or styles going on in my brain, I have a hard time putting my all into each of them. It’ll be nice to get to go back to the writing that made me passionate in the first place, like my weird experimental prose or even just more fun Griffin articles. It’s endlessly an honor and so much fun being the paper’s mom, but I miss having the time to write, especially in Features, and I plan on getting back into it soon.
Michael: Next semester, I will be actively working on Little Theatre’s musical. I am very excited about the director, Victoria Ehrig, and I plan to help her in any way I can with the show. A hope of mine as president of Little Theatre is to bring in new members, even those who have no theater experience. I enjoy seeing people discover a new side of themselves when they perform for the first time. I will also be working on a research project studying the flight call response in migratory bird species with Dr. Morris. While at Canisius, I discovered a passion for birding, and I hope to see the colorful waterfowl that stop by in the winter.
Thank you to Ava and Michael for being a part of this article and a part of our campus. I’d also like to wish all my Griffs a very happy holiday season.