Tag Archive | "Christmas"

“Let me introduce you to … Christmas favorites”

If you’re anything like me there have been several things on your mind since Thanksgiving break, the first being finals, the second being how excited you are to get virtually no sleep the rest of the semester, and the third thing is how pumped you are for the lack of sides at Wildcat Express.

Wait, you aren’t excited for those things?

Good. Me neither.

The real thing that has been on everyone’s mind is Christmas and Christmas break (and maybe a passing thought about finals here or there).

I think it took all of five minutes after my roommate and I returned from Thanksgiving break to set up my mini-Christmas tree and decide that we needed more Christmas decorations. Somehow, in the course of the past four days, we have decorated my closet door with stockings, wrapping paper, a penguin, a “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” gift bag and a gift tag off my stocking.

There’s just something about Christmas that gets people pumped up.

And I love it.

Christmas somehow seems to make everyone happier and more cheerful. Which, after I typed that out and re-read it, sounds so cheesy and corny, but it’s true.

This is a total A.D.D. moment, but Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe” Christmas song just came on, and that makes talking about Christmas even better.

Anywho, I could list all the things I love about Christmas, it would be an incredibly long list but I could totally do it.

Here we go!

Brightly colored lights, ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas, the old school claymation movies, the stockings currently hanging over my fireplace at home, spending hours decorating the Christmas tree so it’s just right, buying Christmas presents, taunting other people with my knowledge of what they have for Christmas…

You were worried the rest of this column was going to be a giant “I love Christmas and this is why” list, weren’t you?

Looking back at my list it seems a little shallow, doesn’t it? It does to me. But there is one thing that I hold highest on my list of favorites.

I wish I could somehow hold suspense better in a column

I absolutely love going home for Christmas. Not only do I get to see my family I get to go to work. I work in a grocery store during winter break, which occasionally stinks, but it also provides me with an opportunity to be super-cheerful to other people, and I love it.

You would not believe the crabapples that walk into grocery stores. But that’s an entirely different story.

There are so many more smiles that are shared and greetings. Heck, I’ve even gotten hugged while working at the grocery store.

It’s like the holidays make people truly happy. What is it about Christmas that makes us so joyful?

As I grow up I realize, besides the bright lights and “Frosty the Snowman” I really enjoy putting a smile on people’s face. When I see other people happy because of something I said or a present that they love, I get this insanely goofy grin that I can’t wipe off. I love seeing people happy, I love being around people period, but seeing them happy because of something I did for them is even better.

I’m not the only one that loves being around people. One of the Athletic Department’s administrative assistants, Melody Leckron, loves spending time with her family.

Cheerleading head coach Jordan Elder loves being with her family and “getting to relive the memories from the year together.”

So I ask again, what is it about Christmas that makes people so cheerful?

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Home for the holiday

Most students here at Indiana Wesleyan University travel back home for the holidays, but those who live internationally don’t have that luxury.

Denny Wongosari (sr) was born and raised in Indonesia, where his family still lives. He has mainly stayed with friends for the holidays since coming to college. Wongosari said he “house-hops” all around the country.

“It’s a good experience because one break, I’ll find myself in Michigan and on another break, I’ll be out in California,” Wongosari said. “It’s pretty adventurous.”

Here in the United States, Wongosari said Christmas differs from how people celebrate it in Indonesia. Since he lives in an Islamic population, only certain people celebrate Christmas. He said that the people who do celebrate it really focus on the true meaning of the holiday.

“Meanwhile here, it’s more like general and secularized sometimes,” Wongosari said. “Sometimes people say, ‘Oh Christmas, that’s a good break and all about Santa Claus, Christmas trees and shopping.”

After growing up in Kenya, Betty Tonui (so) came to the U.S. six years ago with her foster parents. For holidays, she stays with them in Springfield, Ill. Coming to this country, she said that the coldness of the States during holidays has been an adjustment after living in Kenya. Like to Wongosari, Tonui sees a difference between Christmas tradition in comparison to Kenya.

“I like the way they celebrate Christmas,” Tonui said. “In Kenya, we don’t really celebrate Christmas like the way people do here. It’s not exchanging gifts that much. It’s just thinking about Jesus. I know that people think about Jesus here, but it’s about taking presents as well.”

Luke Dubert (jr) also lived in Africa while his parents served as missionaries, more specifically, Quelimane, Mozambique. Dubert said Christmas breaks have not been a problem because his parents were in the U.S. his freshmen year as well as this year, but the other breaks have been a bit of a challenge. Over these holiday breaks, he has stayed with a roommate, lived in a faculty member’s house alone and gone with friends to North Carolina for a spring break trip.

“I really wish they would allow us to stay over Thanksgiving break and spring break or Christmas even like they do at Hogwarts,” Dubert said. “Because that would be a party.”

According to Melissa Sprock, director of housing operations, all of the residence halls close for students who live in the U.S. as well as internationally. Although, she said if an international student needs housing, he/she can submit a form to student development, which can find a host home for them.

“It’s not a rule in that nobody’s here, but probably because of the length of the break, we would prefer to do host homes over someone just staying [on campus] for the holidays,” Sprock said. “Who wants to be alone for the whole holiday?”

In addition to student development, Tony Stevens, associate director of admissions, helps international students find arrangements for housing if they need it as their international student adviser. So far, he hasn’t heard of many students this year who haven’t already found housing.

“Most students have their own plans and like to get out of Marion for vacation,” Stevens said.  “Some will go home and others will stay with family, friends, college friends, etc.”

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‘Hot’ Toys of 2011 according to ToysRUs.com

Between the ages of 5 and 7, all I wanted for Christmas were life-size Barbies, Giga Pets, Yikes! pencils, Silly Putty, Garfield comic books and a Gameboy. I still look back at those gifts with glee and nostalgia. What cool toys. Kids nowadays don’t know what they’re missing.

I have two nieces and three nephews whose Christmas lists I have thoroughly judged. Four-year-old Taylor wants something calls Squinkies — little figurines trapped in plastic balls. Lame. Austin, who’s 11’ typed his Christmas list in alternating green and red fonts, wants Halo Legos … and a pocket watch.

I decided to do my own research — scratch that, Rachel Pyle asked me to do research —  to see what kids these days are requesting for Christmas. I thought maybe my nieces are nephews are just weird anomalies. They’re not. It turns out kids across America are asking for the weirdest toys this year.

Here are a list of some of the top gifts for Christmas 2011:

My Keepon
Picture a snowman. Now picture a yellow snowman (gross, right?). Now picture that snowman on a pedestal, dancing to the beat of your music. If you can picture this, then you can picture My Keepon, one of the hottest toys for grade-schoolers this holiday season. I haven’t figured out why this is the case. It reminds me a lot of a Ferbie, only creepier!

Fijit Friends
If you want a dancing robot but are totally creeped out by My Keepon (more like Kreepon!), get a Fijit friend. This robot dances to music like the Keepon, but it also says more than 150 phrases and responds to more than 30 keywords. Plus, it’s a robot just for girls! Each Fijit Friend has its own girly name and personality, and they talk to other fijit friends — again, like a Ferbie.

You and Me: Hide and Seek Friend Dolls
When I saw these dolls I immediately thought, “Cool! Dolls you can never lose!” You throw one in a closet and it beeps or giggles till you find it. Or maybe you lose one and the other one finds it — creepy but cool. But it turns out, after reading the product description, these dolls do nothing like that. You can feed them, brush their hair and when you lay them down, their eyes close. So, they’re pretty much like every other baby doll on the market, except they have a misleading name to trick you into buying them.

Crayola Color Studio iMarker
This is the gift for any future child of Nick Graham: a Crayola marker for the iPad. The iMarker works like a stylus, only it’s the size and shape of a marker for tiny hands to grasp. Instead of coloring on paper, kids can borrow Dad’s iPad and scribble away. (This means next Christmas, Billy’s asking for his own iPad. Start working overtime, Dad.)

I Am T-Pain Mic
Kids need role models, right? Well, good thing they have T-Pain. The folks at JAKKS Pacific created a recordable, auto-tune-able microphone in honor of the rapper. According to iamtpainmic.com — which you should definitely check out for laughs — the mic has three original beats, a T-Pain Effect button, and another button with a picture of T-Pain’s face. (I haven’t figured out what that does.) After little Jimmy records his rap jams, he can plug the mic into his computer to save the mp3s. The microphone comes in three designs: black, black with flames and white with skulls for girls.

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All I want for Christmas is Justin Beiber

A Sojourn staffer takes on the challenge of listening to Justin Beiber’s new Christmas CD track-by-track.

Going into this piece, I was challenged to rid my mind of all the biases I had against Justin Bieber. Really, I’d never heard a complete song by the artist until listening to his Christmas album. The only thing I could hold against him was the fact that I used to be told I had a “Bieber haircut.”
Anyway, here are my first reactions to Justin Beiber’s Christmas album, “Under The Mistletoe.”

Only Thing I Ever Get for Christmas
Nice little intro with acoustic guitar strumming accompanying Bieber’s voice.
Also, a choir singing “ooohs” in the background. Cue the electronic drums and melismas that lead into the the chorus!
Psychedelic synthesizers add a really cool feel to the bridge. I really wish there were more synthesizers in the entire song and less drum machine.
So many vocal tracks!
Intimate, slow ending with Bieber singing about mistletoe: “I’ll be waiting, kiss me there.”

Jingle bells count the rhythm, then Jason Mraz-style acoustic guitar and finger-snaps come in.
The lyrics are all about evoking imagery of Christmas.
Bieber keeps singing about things he should be doing, but instead he’s under the mistletoe with “yooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-oou.”
There are some pretty weak lyrics going on here. “Don’t you buy me nothing / ‘cause I am feeling one thing / Your lips on my lips.”
This song may as well be a Christmas cover of Mraz’s “I’m Yours.”

Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Spacey intro of acoustic guitar, piano and some weird-but-awesome synthesizer in the back drenched in reverb.
This is a nice, slow and swanky version of this song. Finger snaps keep the rhythm, again. There is a pretty cool effect on the vocal echoes.
Anytime Bieber sings a high note, the auto tune becomes pretty obvious.
Hey, it’s Usher!
So many harmonies are happening right now.
I can hardly take the male-diva love going on right now.
Holy ‘80s guitar solo, Bieber! This is so cheesy.
I think the production of these songs is really hurting more than helping.

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
Funk! That is fun.
Bieber shouting, “Santa’s coming, girl! Whoo!”
This is what Christmas music is all about! Having fun and being happy in the season instead of trying to pick up girls!
There’s a choir in the back, a really appropriate organ, and Bieber almost sounds like he’s a member of the band instead of a celebrity who records his vocal tracks at a different time than the other musicians.
Did he just say it’s the time of year to, “Shake it, baby”? I’m not going to let that ruin this song for me.
Fun track.

Fa La La
Electric piano, drum machines and Bieber saying, “This is the time of year we can give it, give it, give it, give it all.”
Boys II Men is serving as Bieber’s backing choir?
The track so auto tuned, but I can’t tell whether or not it’s intentional. It’s kind of like Bon Iver’s “Woods,” except there is a ton of additional instrumentation. There’s a lot of cool counter-rhythms going on, too.
Man, that last little vocal solo was long. Awkward too.
Side note — the a cappella version of this song on the deluxe album is much more rewarding to listen to.

All I Want for Christmas
Strings, French horn and bells are the first thing you hear before Mariah Carey and Bieber enter.
Lots of wordless singing going on here.
Drums come in really strong and Carey begins singing.
This is upbeat! What a relief; I don’t know if I could handle another power ballad.
This is pretty enjoyable.
Wow, that was a really cool soul-infused bridge. Carey does some really cool whistle-tone stuff at the end.

Drummer Boy
Such a dramatic intro.
I feel like I’m trapped in a futuristic Christmas dream. Oh my, cue the dance party.
Bieber’s rapping. It’s not terrible.
What is happening?! Now Busta Rhymes is shouting.
Now Busta Rhymes is rapping. His lyrics are terrible, but there was just a huge swell of synthesizers and everything but his voice and drums dropped out after that.
It sounds really cool, but his lyrics are still lame. He just gave a shout-out to his Twitter followers, haha.
Oh, another chorus, then Bieber raps the last verse about donating to charity and thinking about less fortunate families. A good message? Yes. A good verse for a rap song?
No way, Biebz. That song just blew my mind.

Christmas Eve
Nice, pretty piano introduction. Of course it can’t remain that way.
Drum machines and hand-claps come in after. “I don’t need presents / girl, you’re everything I need.”
Apparently, that message wasn’t delivered enough in the first few songs?
Maybe it’s just because it follows “Drummer Boy,” but that song was painfully boring.

All I Want is You
Two fake intros? Bieber, you jokester. It’s a sappy, lonely winter ballad.
“Sitting here all alone watching the snow fall / looking back at the day we through them snow balls / I can’t believe I’m putting the tree up by myself / I need you and nobody else.”
It’s not bad. It’s pretty much the same idea as the first song on this album, but this song does a much better job of evoking the desperation of missing a loved one.

Home This Christmas
Immediately I can tell this is going to be a country ballad because of the big piano, mid-tempo and twangy country guitar.
The Band Perry’s presence is obvious.
Bieber and the Perrys’ voices compliment each other well. Maybe Bieber should do more country stuff. This is a really solid track.

Silent Night
Just Bieber’s voice and piano.
Pretty and relaxing. I’m really glad the second verse didn’t add any drum machines or other instrumentation. It would have tainted a classic.
In general, this Christmas album wasn’t too bad. There were too many ballads and all the original songs that Bieber helped write were sappy love songs that all revolved around the idea of kissing girls under the mistletoe or only wanting a girl’s love for Christmas. The covers were fun and most of the guest musicians attributed nice variety to the songs.

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