Tag Archive: Christmas

  1. What do you deserve for Chrismahanukwanzakah?

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    1. It’s Sunday evening. You’ve just spent the weekend in Brooklyn, hanging with friends and hitting up bars and going to gallery openings. Unfortunately, you also have a paper due in 12 hours. (The essay prompt includes the words “dialectic” and “materiality.”) What do you do?

    a) Delete your Facebook. Or consider deleting your Facebook. Put on your residential college sweatpants and head to Bass. So college!

    b) Pop an Adderall and lock yourself in your room. This is why you chose Yale: for the stressful, fruitful moments. You grow stronger as the deadline approaches. Ah, yes!

    c) I cannot answer this question because I have never been to Brooklyn and I have never written an essay the night before the deadline.

    d) Ask the professor for an extension! She likes you because you make a lot of jokes in class and clearly have a funky, fresh creative streak.

    e) Freeze. Play dead. Call your mom. Hang up on your mom. Pull an all-nighter drinking black coffee and listening to sad, crooning music.

    2. It’s Monday afternoon and you’re recovering from that crazy all-nighter! You’re a star! You’ve also just received the following text message from your ex: “Dear [Name], I’m thinking about the time we spent together last semester. I miss you: your presence in my life, your hands on my body. Can we meet?” You respond:

    a) “Sorry, but I can only meet with you as a friend. Trust me. I know you’re going through a rough patch, and I would love to help, but you know we can’t be together.”

    b) “Ours was a beautiful relationship, fresh and tender as a flower. However, I cannot stand by as you trample the past, deliberately flouting a decision we came to out of mutual respect and careful consideration! Your histrionics exasperate me.” And then—“Meet in 20 mins?”

    c) “You have the incorrect telephone number. I am [Name]. I am a human being.”

    d) You actually forget to respond because you’re busy integrating the text message into your newest play. The material is just so fresh!

    e) You actually draft seven different responses, but then fall asleep holding your phone and listening to crooning music. The next morning you delete the message.

    3. You’re in class Monday evening, sipping tea and snapchatting your friends from under the table. Suddenly, your TA says: “I’m handing back your papers!” When she gives you your essay, she screws up her face in polite discomfort. You immediately look at the comments:

    a) “Unfortunately, you have made the exact argument Professor Adams proposed in lecture last week. While this isn’t a textbook case of plagiarism, come talk to me after class. Best, Esther.”

    b) “Unfortunately, you have made the exact argument Michel Foucault proposed in his seminal work “The Order of Things.” This is a textbook case of plagiarism. Come talk to me after class. Best, Judith.”

    c) “Unfortunately, you have made an argument that is not relevant to this class. You have argued that all literature is obsolete and that books encourage irrational thinking. Come talk to me after class. Best, Hagar.”

    d) “Unfortunately, you have made no argument. This essay, ‘some thoughts on meaning in the bell jar by sylvia plath,’ is a bewildering, sickening work of free association. Come see me after class. Best, Delilah.”

    e) “Unfortunately, I found your essay illegible due to tear stains. I would be happy to read a clean version. Come see me after class. Best, Jezebel.”

    4. It’s Tuesday morning, and you’re ready to take on the day. You get up, drink some coffee and hop in the shower. While you’re lathering up, you discover a huge, hairy spider hanging from the showerhead. The spider has one million eyes. What do you do?

    a) Freak out (!) and take a few deep breaths. Swat at the spider with your shampoo bottle and then tell your friends about the whole thing over froyo. So college!

    b) Bellow a few profanities in your most commanding tone of voice. Then squish the spider between your index finger and your thumb. Leave the corpse by the sink.

    c) Eat the spider.

    d) Turn off the shower! Immediately! Cup the spider in your hand and let it out into the frosty December air. Post a status about the incident.

    e) Scream, but then spend the next few minutes entranced by the arachnid. Hum crooning music and wonder, “Are spiders sad creatures? What is sadness?”

    5. It’s Wednesday night, and you’re ready for Woad’s. You’ve already been enjoying “subtle tannins and a heady bouquet” — you’ve been drinking wine from a box. Unfortunately, your cronies don’t want to hit up the sexy, sweaty New Haven nightclub. They’re all doing “homework.” How do you end the night?

    a) You stumble back to your room, put on your favorite jammies, and watch your favorite “New Girl” episode. Then you fantasize, picturing the Whiffenpoofs in quick succession until they become one single, glowing face: The Whiffenpoof.

    b) When your roommate’s in the bathroom, you take a sledgehammer to his computer. He returns, and you say: “Are you still going to do homework tonight?”

    c) You scrounge around the WLH basement looking for spiders. You consume them.

    d) No big deal! You have a Google spreadsheet called “people” — you open it up, pick a name at random (“girl from fractals?!”) and ask “girl from fractals?” if she’s DTF. (Down to Frolick.)

    e) You stumble back to your room and cry yourself to sleep. During the night, however, you fuse with your bed. Congratulations — you are no longer human.

    Mostly As: You deserve an exciting but practical gift! (You also asked for a practical gift, so this is great news!) You’re grounded, kind, and mature, so you don’t need baubles or accessories. WKND recommends: a nice pair of jeans, new snow boots, a new copy of Microsoft Office. Stocking stuffers: Mechanical pencils and candy canes and A Life.

    Most Bs: You really don’t deserve anything. This is self-explanatory. Look at your answers. (Who even knows what you asked for?) WKND recommends: coal. Stocking stuffers: coal.

    Mostly Cs: You don’t believe in surprises. You also don’t believe in celebration or human emotion. You are possibly a robot, a character from “Atlas Shrugged,” or a dead rat hiding under some trenchcoats.  WKND recommends: Seven meaningful touches a day. Stocking stuffers: Soylent packets.

    Mostly Ds: You deserve an artsy, cool, impractical gift! (You probably asked for a weird animal-print sweatshirt or a plane ticket to Berlin.) You’re hip and hilarious, but also quick to help a friend in need. WKND recommends: the new Lena Dunham memoir or studded leggings or blue hair dye. Stocking stuffers: parti-colored condoms and Sailor Moon stickers.

    Mostly Es: You deserve love. (You probably didn’t ask for anything.) You’re actually way sadder than that spider in the shower, in case you’re still wondering, because that spider doesn’t even have a brain. Just a small knot of neurons. WKND recommends: A copy of “To the Lighthouse,” probably? Stocking stuffers: none, because stocking stuffers would trivialize your despair.

  2. A New Home for the Holidays

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    All college freshmen have a common goal during their first semester: make a dorm feel like home. Everyone goes about this differently—some paper their bedroom walls with pictures of friends from high school, some hang their home state flags across their walls, some concoct makeshift versions of their favorite traditional home dishes using only Ramen, microwaves and plastic Tupperware. But come December, all these different approaches converge on one universal theme: holiday decorating. In order to decorate your place with ease, it won’t hurt to seek assistance from professionals such as the Painters and decorators south London.

    When I returned from Thanksgiving break, I was welcomed back into Durfee’s B Entryway by the smell of the pine wreaths hanging on suite doors. My own common room table was littered with celebratory Hanukkah gelt, and, as the week went on, multi-colored wax that had dripped from a clumsy suitemate’s menorah. One especially crafty friend went so far as to buy seven red felt Christmas stockings and write each of her suitemates’ names on them in gold glitter glue. Farnam residents had decorated the front of their building with the customary twinkling Christmas lights, this year spelling out “JE LUX” before Thanksgiving break had even begun. And these holiday decorations extended far beyond the dormitories: by early December I saw music stands covered in wrapping paper, a small Christmas tree dripping with candy canes on the band room table, and a wreath obscuring the milk machine in Stiles dining hall.

    These festive ornamentations are not only a means of making what is still foreign—our novel living quarters—familiar, but also as a way to make our new cohabitants into a community. Used to being home for the holidays, we prefer making our friends into a second family to mourning our distance from our first one. Like carrying a couch up four flights of stairs, fighting off cockroaches in the shower and jointly dealing with overzealous neighbors, cooperative decorating is a way for a suite to come together as more than just a group of roommates.

    Of course many of us miss our parents, our high school friends and our homes all year long. But the holidays are a time of love for those closest to us—and especially those in close proximity. It’s easy to say that the hassle of going out to buy a Christmas tree or carrying a menorah on Metro-North isn’t worth the mere two weeks of holiday cheer that these decorations will provide. But I would argue that those who are too lazy or too apathetic to decorate miss out on a valuable experience—not just the potential beauty of the room itself, but also the chance to make a residence into a home.





  3. Merry Christmas, and a Happy Jew Year

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    Every year, Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry hosts a holiday-themed exhibition called “Christmas Around the World.” The tradition began in 1942, when it was then meant to commemorate the efforts of the Allied powers. Today, the exhibit features over 50 unique Christmas trees in a single hall, each one decorated to represent the holiday traditions of a particular ethnic community in the city. In the center of the main rotunda, a 45-foot-tall tree stands as something of a singular attraction, but its presence is hubristic and somewhat out of place. The whole thing is meant to be interpreted as a celebration of multiculturalism.

    As a child, I viewed the Christmas exhibition as particularly larger than life. To me, it was almost exotic. The blinking processional of Christmas trees was certainly more captivating than the lunar rover in the museum’s Henry Crown Space Center, or even the blinking miniature sprites that light up the Colleen Moore Fairy Castle. But that was natural, I guess — in that place of all places I was an outsider: a tiny Jewish girl from the suburbs juxtaposed against a 45-foot tree. This holiday business was new to me. In fact, “Christmas Around the World” was perhaps my first real exposure to the diverse and rightly romantic traditions of the Yuletide season.

    Up until arriving at Yale, Christmas was not something I understood. I grew up in a household proud of its cultural heritage. Out of a sense of tradition, if not obligation, my family refused to adopt even the most secular manifestations of holiday traditions that were not our own. We were the practitioners of sturdy Jewish winters that gave the Festival of Lights warm and modest acknowledgment; on December 25 itself, there was Chinese food and a movie. Because of this, most things Christmas were foreign to me. I did not see the movie “Elf” until years after its release. That itself seems like a minor data point, but it’s highly emblematic of a childhood in which my parents saw even the most secular iterations of Christmas as corrosive to my nascent sense of selfhood as a Jew. It really did seem like every other 10-year-old in America had seen that movie.

    By college I was Kevin Bacon in “Footloose,” ready to break free. “Let’s dance!” It was overwhelming how much Christmas I had missed. I’d missed “Home Alone” and National Lampoon, an animated Grinch and a live-action Grinch. I’d missed dozens and dozens of classic holiday albums: The Beach Boys, Elvis, The Beatles. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra! The Mormon Tabernacle Choir! And that was only the canon: the Directed Studies of Christmas culture. I soon learned there were niche Christmases to satisfy any possible interest, hobby, pastime or pursuit. Jeff Foxworthy hosts a Redneck Christmas special. There are Christmas albums for Republicans and Democrats, Trekkies and Star Wars fans. Harold and Kumar have a holiday movie, as does (excuse me) Sasha Grey.

    The culture of Christmas is not cohesive, and I mean that in the most complimentary and envious way. You have no idea how vast the Christmas industrial complex is until you step outside the shtetl of the greater Chicagoland area. What is most miraculous about the holiday is that it encapsulates a hodgepodge of traditions and entertains each one without invalidating the rest.

    “Christmas Around the World” opened just yesterday, Nov. 14. I say that’s not early enough. After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year.

  4. Fire Department plans to burn Christmas tree

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    On an average year, United States fire departments respond to roughly 230 home structure fires caused by Christmas trees. This year, the New Haven Fire Department has created an innovative solution to prevent these holiday-induced accidents caused by Christmas trees: Burn one.

    On Friday at 10:30 a.m., the NHFD will set a Christmas tree on fire at the New Haven Fire Academy to demonstrate how quickly fire can spread through a home. In addition to the blazing tree, NHFD Chief Michael Grant will offer safety tips for Elm City residents on fire prevention and offer free smoke detectors to attendees.

    “As everyone gets busier during the holidays, we often become rushed, distracted or tired,” Grant said in a press release. “That’s when home fires are more likely to occur. By igniting the tree in the demonstration, showing all residents how quickly fire can spread, we hope to save lives and prevent any further tragedies this season.”

    So, wherever you are spending this holiday season — whether you’re about to leave the stove and go Christmas shopping or whether you risk electrocuting yourself with Christmas lights — may the image of a burning tree be enough to prevent you from facing the same fate as the Christmas tree in tomorrow’s demonstration.

    Happy Holidays, Yale!