Monthly Archives: December 2014

Its Christmas Eve

Today brings all things Christmassy… Christmas is a hard time of year- for some it brings added pressure and stress, for some it brings the reality that they are alone to the forefront of their lives, for some it is a time to complain about snow, and religious fanatics, and the corruption of the whole season.

It saddens my heart whenever I see a giant red and green image on facebook that lets me know that I should be shamed if I say anything other than “Merry Christmas” or [insert religiously appropriate holiday greeting]– or just as often that I should be shamed if I say anything but the all-encompassing “Happy Holidays”. How about I say what I want to… you say what you want to… we both take it as a gesture of good will, be happy that someone bothered to take time out of their busy hectic day to pass on a greeting, and move on with our lives.

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ALL the Christmas songs… These are some of my favourites and reflections on why they are:

Where are you Christmas- Faith Hill

Where are you Christmas? Why can’t I find you? Why have you gone away? 

Where is the laughter, you used to bring me? Why can’t I hear music play?

My world is changing. I’m rearranging. Does that mean Christmas changes too?

If it’s one of my favourites, then why is it sad you ask? Well, it’s sad because of WHY its on my favourite list… because too many years of my not so long life (I’m 23) have brought the feeling found in this song- that our world is far too preoccupied with what doesn’t matter, and not enough with what does. The song does turn around and gives some uplifting sage advice at the end… “let love into your heart and you’ll feel like Christmas all the time”… but unfortunately most of the world doesn’t seem to have picked up on that.

Believe- Josh Groban

We were dreamers, not so long ago

But one by one, we all had to grow up

When it seems the magic’s slipped away, we find it once again on Christmas day

Trains move quickly to their journey’s end

Destinations are where we begin again

Oh Josh Groban… the heart throb of every female Christian teen… and some males too. If only for the reason that his sweet melodious voice is the one singing, it makes it onto my list… but in all seriousness- the message of this song is kind of like an alternate (and [pessimistically speaking] more realistic) ending to the one previous (Faith Hill). The message in one light is that we only get to feel that kind of magic once a year… and then you just have to wait… again. I fully realize that we all have to grow up, but at the same time- there is no doubt that every adult has an inner child somewhere. Christmas is one of those holidays where if you can get past all the stress and commotion of capitalism… then you are allowed, and even encouraged to let your inner child show… its called “holiday spirit”. When we get to the end of childhood, where the magic fade, and the train has reached its journey’s end- we don’t just stop living, we grab our bags, file off the train, and begin the real challenge- finding Christmas in the adult world, and letting it shine, the torch has been passed and we must now be the creator’s of Christmas magic for the children behind us.

When Christmas comes to town- Matthew Hall and Megan Moore

I’m wishing on a star, and trying to believe, that even though it’s far, he’ll find me Christmas Eve

I guess that Santa’s busy, cause he’s never come around, I think of him when Christmas comes to town.

The best time of the year, when everyone comes home; with all this Christmas cheer, it’s hard to be alone.

Putting up the Christmas tree, with friends who come around, it’s so much fun when Christmas comes to town.

When Santa’s sleigh bells ring, I listen all around; the herald angels sing, I never hear a sound…

This song is nice and sweet but its also a reminder… of the danger of filling children’s minds with hope- sometimes for things they have little-to-no chance of getting. Hope is great and everything but it has a dangerous side- children understand magic… they understand it to be an infinite resource… and unfortunately it doesn’t actually exist. So not to be all Grinchy but I have to wonder if it’s really a good thing to be propogating some of these things… only to set them up for heart break down the road? Is that supposed to be a life lesson- that everything nice and wonderful, eventually will turn out to be false?

Mary Did You Know?

Mary did you know, that your baby boy would one day walk on water?

Mary did you know, that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?

Did you know, that your baby boy has come make you new?

This child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you.

This one is not just a Christmas song… it’s a Christmas carol (or hymn) [religious message is what makes the difference]. I love this song all year round, but it is technically assigned to the Christmas section (because Jesus is a baby in it… or at least that’s my guess as to the reasoning). It is a good reminder of the “reason for the season”… Jesus- God’s gift to the world… if God were Santa, then Jesus is your present on Christmas morning. I might be wrong but that might be one of the original reasons why Saint Nicholas (the guy Santa is fashioned after– shocker I know) gave gifts to children in the first place, to remind children of the gift given to all of humanity, a child- a saviour- the one and only son of God. (and for you Trinity folks… in unity with him and the Spirit… blah blah blah– that’s another day’s post). The other day I witnessed a father helping a son open up a game (a pre-Christmas gift) that the boy was having difficulty with… the boy exclaimed “You’re my saviour!!!” to which I piped up (quite cheesily) “I have a saviour too!” *boy looks at me and tilts his head to the side with an adorable curious expression* “His name is Jesus!” I smile, the boy smiles- he understood. I’m not usually big on the evangelistic front but I saw an opportunity to bring it up without being aggressive. (That’s right fundamentalists: humor and gentleness can go a long way).

This year I’ve heard a lot of complaining, I’ve heard a lot about the corruption, and I’ve been personally affronted with an act of shaming for my choice of holiday greeting– multiple times… with different greetings (there really is no pleasing these people). I’m hoping that things will look and feel a little brighter tonight at the Christmas Eve service… family, candles, singing, and of course a preacher I consider friend at the pulpit– maybe even a play with the kids.

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and not to steal from Santa but “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night”

Exams… I’m with ya

Hello fellow students.

I know, you’re tired, you’re only reading this as a procrastination- just like how I’m writing it as one. You’re bogged down with work and stress and time crunches (be it for studying, holiday shopping, packing, etc). I get it- and I’m there with you. Admittedly some might say I have it easy because I have one exam and one essay left; but if you had built up a reputation for a certain quality of work then you might be as worried as me. For me it doesn’t matter how many exams and essays I have- I always feel anxious.

Part of this post is gonna be a bit stereotypical: exam tips. **Warning, these are not sugar-coated

1) don’t be all-study-all-the-time– you NEED to take breaks or you will eventually crash, and if life is anything like a movie it will be at the most inopportune time.

2) bring water with you to the exam– they have to let you take it in, also I read a stat somewhere that people who take water into exams average 4% higher… now students who know this stat might be more prepared in general causing a correlation, or it might be some placebo effect, it might even be that you aren’t dehydrated when you panic. Just drink water- it can’t hurt.

3) bring a whole host of writing utensils… and they’re counterparts: pens, pencils, erasers, white-out, sharpeners… etc; you don’t know which ones you might need… and take spares, because pencils break and pens run out of ink

4) don’t forget identification (student card/drivers licence) because a lot of institutions require it

5) SLEEP!!! I can’t stress this enough, I know anxiety can keep you up at night, and there are many other reasons why you might not be able to sleep– but put effort into finding alternative ways of falling asleep, you never know if one might help. All- nighters are not the way to go… and my psych roommate says that during REM sleep your brain consolidates information that its learned throughout the day, so if you’re not sleeping then you’re not giving you’re brain a chance to process stuff… you’re basically setting yourself up to fail

6) do not try the drinking and studying and then drinking before the exam thing… I know they say you should take the exam in the same state as you studied in… but you shouldn’t be drunk when you’re studying, you won’t retain the information and you’ll just become one of the idiots that tried

7) Multiple choice: don’t get freaked when you have a bunch of answers of the same letter choice, professors sometimes do this to see if you’re really answering or just guessing… that being said- if you don’t know the answer there is no penalty for guessing, sometimes you might get lucky and guess the right answer.

8) READ THE QUESTION… AND THE ANSWERS; if it’s multiple choice then you need to read both- and answer what is the most correct, not which has the most keywords in it… if its short answer then make sure you understand the question, answer it, and then read your answer to make sure you answered the question- sometimes we get sidetracked

finals… sometimes what we study isn’t on the exam, but usually if you listen to the hints dropped in class, you know what to study

Now back to non-stereotypical exam blog posts… I’m rooting for you… as a Christian, I’m praying for you… I hope you do well, I hope you come back refreshed- I know sometimes family can be more stressful than the exams. I do not claim to have written this prayer, but I thought it suited my sentiments in writing this post:

Dear Lord, as we take this exam, we thank you that our value

is not based on our performance, but on your great love for us.

Come into our hearts so that we can walk through this time together.

Help us, not only with this test, but the many tests of life that are sure to come our way.

As we take this exam, bring back to our mind everything we have studied

and be gracious with what we have overlooked.

Help us to remain focused and calm, confident in the facts and in our ability,

and firm in the knowledge that no matter what happens today, you are there with us. Amen