Why do you hate Christmas?

I’m not accusing anyone. I seem to notice that there’s some sort of Scrooge effect that’s existing. “Bah humbug, I hate Christmas.”

But why? Is it because of the general selfishness? Is it because of the horrible hustle and bustle that occurs as Christmas approaches and humans frantically rush around to get everything ready for the holiday? Is it because as the hustle and bustle gets worse, tempers fray, people snap, and children cry as they receive presents they never wanted?

Is it because we have become so selfish that Christmas no longer means what it used to? I understand if some of us aren’t Christian and as a result don’t take the Christ’s birth into account. But Christmas should be a time spent with family and friends. It should be a time that one takes to express love, whether that love be expressed by means of presents, time, cooking, laughter, etc.

Is it because we’re not sure we feel the love anymore? Is it because we have become too selfish to feel it? Or too hurt to feel it? Or too busy to feel it? Or too jaded to feel it? Or we don’t have anyone to love?

Or have we all become too cynical?

This is all just speculation, and I don’t know for sure.

For me, Christmas will always mean the love of God expressed as the gift of Grace. It never was about Santa… though I do appreciate the presents that I receive, and the people who gave me the presents. It never was about the hustle and bustle (which I managed to avoid by buying things online). It was always about love. Call me an idealist, but that’s how I think it should be.

Merry Christmas. Stay warm.

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To What End?

I waste a lot of time. I waste a lot of time thinking about what should be and what could be and what is, and how and when and where and what. Who was I, who will I be, who am I now? What happened to the time? What is happening to me? Will this make much difference?

… Especially since I’m in college right now. I feel as if so much hinges on the choices I make. What classes I choose to take, how much time I practice piano, how much time and research and sleepless nights I spend on a particular paper. So much worries about what I’m going to do with my life after I get out of college in four years, as well as what I’m going to do Christmas vacation. So much worries on what and how. So much what and how that I’m in danger of forgetting the why.

Why?

So much time spent on concerns and worries that in the end amount to a little bit of sand that the wind blows away. A little bit of sand that ultimately gets lost in the big ocean of WHY.*

Why am I doing this? What is my ultimate purpose? To what end?

Perhaps we worry too much about the what and when and where and how much that we forget about the why.

Hopefully I’ll be able to live every day in the present, with my eyes set on the Goal. Hopefully I will be able to look back on what I’ve done and say that it was all done for the glory of God. That He is the reason WHY I live and breathe and move and sing.

*I know that was cheesy, but please bear with me.

Skills

People have told me that college is a privilege. It is a time period where the individual learns the skills necessary to go out into the “real world” (or rather, preparation for 3 more graduate schools so they can then have the necessary skills to go into the real world). It is also a time period where the individual learns how to live independently and responsibly, while hiding the evidence of weekend drunkenness when the parents come to visit. So after three and a half months of college, I realize that there are important skills that I learned how to do, as well as important skills I have not learned how to do.

I need more of these.

I suppose that all of the wonderful things I’ve learned at college will benefit me in later life. However, I have the feeling that the wonderful things that I have NOT learned how to do will be the ones that I will really need to know how to do. And will be the ones that I wish I’d learned how to do when I’m starving in a gutter somewhere.

Wonderful things I’ve learned this first semester:

  • First species counterpoint
  • Harmonic analysis
  • How to correctly draw clefs that are pretty
  • Social learning theory
  • The social construct of gender
  • How society is forming us to think with a gender bias
  • How to beg and plead (and bow and scrape) to get extra credit in various classes
  • How to do three things at the same time; namely, listening to lecture, evaluating the professor’s appearance, and finishing up homework from another class
  • Freedom in Christianity
  • The Council of Chalcedon
  • How Boethius kind of sucks
  • How St. Augustine is amazing
  • How my philosophy professor’s daughters are OH SO CUTE AND AMAZING
  • Human happiness in the consolation of philosophy
  • Xenophanes and Plato on Homeric ideology
  • How Slavin food is greatly superior to Ray food
  • How food in Ray on the weekends sucks
  • That “sucks” is actually a curse word
  • Procrastination (because I’m supposed to be studying for a final tomorrow)
  • How to make my professors laugh and then do headdesks and facepalms.
  • How to make my piano teacher exhausted
  • How to make my piano teacher stare at me like I’m insane
  • How to stand in line to get my card swiped so I can eat
  • How to buy things online with my credit card (well, maybe that doesn’t count)
  • How to check my email on outlook (stupid, stupid microsoft)
  • Greatly improved my writing skills (curse you, civ)
  • Cadences and arpeggios
  • Solfege
  • Sight-singing in a minor key
  • Articulation
  • What a cakewalk is

Things I have not learned:

  • How to cook
  • How to make a consistently good cup of instant noodles where the noodles aren’t rubber
  • How to use a copy machine without jamming it in 16 different places (copy machines hate me)
  • How to clean
  • How to use the laundry machines without making my clothes all bubbly because I used too much soap
  • How to walk down the stairs without falling
  • Second species counterpoint
  • Calculus
  • Sleep
  • Naps

So anyway, like I said, I’m not sure that the knowledge of the superiority of Slavin food to Ray food will help me when I’m starving out in a gutter somewhere. Neither will my skills in making my piano teacher stare at me like I’ve lost my marbles. Sadly. It does say something about me that I can’t even make a proper cup of instant noodles.

But if headdesks were dollars, I’d be rich.

Won’t You Please Stay Around?

Snippet of an essay I wrote for my Development of Western Civilization class. This snippet didn’t make the cut when I was editing, but I liked it too much to discard it completely.

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…On the other hand, mortals in this polytheistic religion are unable to resist the gods’ control over their actions. The mortals in the Aeneid seem helpless, as the gods manipulate them into carrying out various schemes. Dido is a good example of a woman who was manipulated into falling in love with Aeneas, therefore leading her to kill herself in despair. Venus concocted a scheme where Cupid, transformed into looking like Aeneas’s son, would use his talents to “enflame the Queen’s heart and infiltrate her bones with fire” (Book 1, line 801). To what purpose? Because Venus, distrusting Juno’s own schemes, planned to catch Dido off guard and “encircle her with passion, so that no power can change her, and she will be bound to me” (lines 823-824). As a result, Dido becomes a most unhappy woman. “Dido is burning. She wanders all through the city in her misery, raving mad” implies that Dido cannot control the feelings she has(lines 80-82).  Even the consummation of their love, their “marriage,” is orchestrated by Juno and Venus. While Dido and Aeneas ventured out on a hunting party. Juno poured down rain with hailstones, making the heavens rumble with thunder. In the ensuing confusion, Dido and Aeneas found themselves in the same cave. “I will be there too, and with [Venus’s] consent I will unite them in holy matrimony. This will be their wedding” (lines 143-146). Yet another example is Lavinia’s mother (Book 7). Juno enlists the help of a “Dread Goddess” named Allecto, ordering her to “prevent Aeneas from winning over Latinus through marriage, or from invading Italy” (lines 407-408). Amata, unhappy at Lavinia’s impending nuptials to a man Amata dislikes and rejects, is set upon by Allecto. “The goddess plucks a snake from her dark hair and throws it on Amata, thrusting it deep into her bosom to drive her mad and so bring down the entire house” (lines 423-426). Eventually, Amata wreaked havoc on the household, ultimately hanging herself out of her misery.

In contrast to this picture of absolute manipulation, Jesus Christ in Luke 15 tells a parable about a son who asks his father for his inheritance, telling in not so many words that he would rather have his father dead. The father gives the son his inheritance. Knowing that his son wants to leave, even though that may not be the best choice, this father lets the son go his separate way. Eventually, the son squanders all his wealth “on a life of dissipation” (v. 13) and then a famine strikes the country he is in. After a while, the son realizes that he has been foolish, thinking, “I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son” (v. 18-19). The son then gets up and returns to the father. Amazingly enough, the father sees him from far off and is “filled with compassion.” The relationship is such that the father freely welcomes his son back. However, the son has to want to come back first. It is the son’s choice whether to come back or not. God clearly wants his people to return to him; however, it is their choice whether to return or not. God, like the father in the parable, will not force a relationship. Similarly, this presenting a choice could be seen on the road to Emmaus after the crucifixion of Christ. Two men were walking to a village, and as they walked, they conversed about the occurrences of the past few days. Jesus appeared to them, but they were not able to see who he was. While explaining to them the meaning of everything that had happened, he walked with them to their destination. However, Jesus “gave the impression” that he was going farther. They urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over” (Luke 24:28-29). It is during that meal that Christ reveals that it is indeed he, risen from the dead. The significance in this passage is that Jesus did not force himself on them. They had to ask him to stay with them, thereby giving him a chance to reveal himself to them.

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I know I’m unworthy, but won’t You please stay around?