In Nebraska

I’m sitting in Barista’s in Kearney (my favorite coffee shop that no coffee shop in Pittsburgh has ever lived up to) and have already ran into two ┬ápeople that I know. Have I really been living in Pittsburgh for four months? It’s surreal. I flew into Omaha and wasn’t shocked by the amount of space there is. I’m not amazed at how flat it is… if anything I now notice how flat it isn’t. This place hasn’t changed that much.

But I have.

One friend that I saw mentioned that I wasn’t wearing grey and black today. I apparently wore a lot of that during school… she probably would have been speechless if I’d decided to do wing-tipped eyeliner today… but jet lag prevented me… Or maybe that was being up from 3:30 am- 10:30 pm central time.

But I have definitely changed in the last four months. I feel older. I know that my 23rd birthday isn’t until Saturday, but whenever people ask me how old I am, I already say 23. I’m more willing to do new things and to do things on my own. I’m learning that it’s okay to not have expectations met.

But I’m sitting in Barista’s and it’s nice to have a place that’s absolutely familiar. The workers are different, but the place is the same. At this very moment, Pittsburgh feels more like a dream than a reality. Though the opposite is true.

I also feel weird that I haven’t walked anywhere today… that will be amended though when I walk to my friends house. I have a feeling that this visit will be a rare one. I love Kearney, and Nebraska, but I’m not the same person I was when I started my freshman year in 2009… I not the same person that graduated here this May.

And I absolutely love the feeling.

Winter Break

I’m officially done with my first semester of graduate school. It’s insane… I have no brain power. Since school has ended, I’ve just been recuperating and relaxing. On Wednesday I’ll be flying to Nebraska (yay!). But before that, I’ve got laundry and cleaning and packing to do. But, there will be a lot of lounging around as well.

So in honor of my break starting I have a couple of videos to show you… they are the absolute funniest videos I have watched recently… in fact it was last night. The two guys below are a couple of my favorite YouTubers to watch and these videos in particular are splendid.

Enjoy!

Why I believe in Santa Claus

A few years ago, I was watching The Polar Express because I had never seen it before. I’m not going to give a synopsis of the movie, but during the story, the main boy is given a bell from Santa’s sleigh that can only be heard by someone who believes. Sadly, the boy misplaces the bell, but it then shows up under his tree from Santa. As he rings the bell, he and his sister can hear it- but his parents can’t. As the movie comes to an end, the voiceover (the older version of the boy) says that slowly, through the years, his friends couldn’t hear the bell, and then his sister- even though he always could. They stopped believing.

Before I continue with my point, I have to say that everyone should see this movie, or at least read the picture book.

The ending of this movie had a powerful effect on me. It made me realize that I still believe in Santa Claus.

I feel like I need to backtrack a bit. Growing up, we believed that Santa Claus was real- same with the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. I legitimately believed these beings were real. For the most part this was great. There was one time during Easter that I got freaked out because we were sleeping over at my grandparent’s house and I couldn’t fall asleep because I thought the Easter Bunny was a giant bunny, and that it would attack us since we were sleeping in the same area as the baskets. {Some would say I had an overactive imagination.}

But overall, the belief in things that didn’t exist didn’t harm me. Eventually I learned that they weren’t real and I don’t remember feeling betrayed or even super disappointed. It was still fun because we still got presents from Santa, and the Easter Bunny still hid the eggs we’d dyed earlier in the week. We also knew who St. Nicholas was. How his life spurred who we now know as Santa. {Fun fact though: Santa wears a red suit because of Coca Cola. They used Santa for advertising and that’s why his suit is the same color as their labeling.}

Before watching The Polar Express, I would have said that Santa isn’t real. And I don’t mean that there is an actual fat man who rides in a flying sleigh pulled by magical reindeer- one with a nose condition- who jumps down chimneys to deliver presents. No. That Santa doesn’t exist. I don’t believe in a literal Santa, but a figurative one.

Santa is a symbol. He’s a symbol of giving unconditionally. Of seeing a need and fulfilling it with the sole purpose of bringing joy to someone’s life. It’s about believing the best in people. It’s about believing that there’s more to this world than what meets the eye. Santa sounds like a symbol for someone else we celebrate during this season too.

For some reason, it seems that Christians are afraid of Santa. I just read this post, by a fairly prominent radio host/blogger that would defend that statement. I will let you read that on your own time, and I’m not disagreeing that many people put more focus on Santa than Jesus, but I think it’s going overboard to say that we need to get rid of Santa.

I, personally, am not afraid of something that isn’t real… anymore {I am not afraid of the Easter Bunny anymore}.

While my family would partake in the tradition of Santa Claus, the true reason of the Christmas celebration was not lost on us. My parents did an amazing job of teaching us about Jesus and the beautiful story of his birth and the greatest gift that God ever gave mankind. Jesus’ birth is still my favorite story. He came to Earth to die for us. God loved us so unconditionally, that the coming of Christ’s birth is mentioned as early as Genesis. None of us deserve that gift, but God did it anyways to bring us joy and hope… this sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it?

Maybe God is Santa Claus… {please notice that I put God first and that I don’t think that God is a fat man in a red suit. I have a feeling that bah-humbugs can easily get up-in-arms about that statement… I don’t actually think that God is Santa Claus… I should probably re-write that statement, but I hope that you are all intelligent people.}

Santa, or St. Nicholas, is another parable of sorts that once again leads back to the greatest love story in existence. It reminds me of the claymation classic, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” When Kris Kringle realizes that there are just too many kids to keep up with the demand and he decides that he’ll only make the trip once a year. The narrator states that it was no question as to what night to choose, the holiest night, the “Night of Profound Love.”

I choose to believe is Santa because he is a beautiful story. He is another example of the love that God has for us, that he would give us a gift with no strings attached.

Plus, I LOVE singing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer… and no one will take that from me.

More {Favorite} Christmas Songs

I posted last week some of my favorite Christmas albums to listen to during this season. Well, there are a few more songs/artists that are dear to my heart for a variety of reasons. Some are insanely humorous and some are just wonderful… and they are all videos! (You’ll notice that I like videos.) Without further to do, let the Christmas cheer commence!

First, the funny ones:

“I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” is one of my all-time Christmas songs that will never fail to make you smile and wish Santa gave you a hippopotamus for Christmas too. Don’t worry though, they won’t eat you because they’re vegetarian. Also this video of the song is from the Ed Sullivan Show in 1953.

Oh, Grace Helbig… this video is for people who are sick of Christmas songs and I am terribly sorry if you are one of them, because I keep writing about them. But this video is hilarious… and not completely appropriate (language) so, you’ve been warned. I still laughed super hard though.

Now for the less funny ones:

For some reason, “The Little Drummer Boy” is one of my favorite Christmas songs. I just like the story of the song- though the original versions can get a little dry, this version by The Almost is wonderful.

And finally, when I came across this song, I was struck by the beauty and the unique take on the Christmas story and when paired with the music video, it just took my breath away. If you watch any of these videos, watch this one.

One Week Left

I feel like I’ve complained a lot lately. Some of it on social media, but most of it in my head. There’s a week left of school and I’m not doing to great healthwise. Here’s the short list: I have a cold which produced a fever; I restrained something in my knee and the doctor’s visit was unhelpful; I still have two papers and a project due. (correction, I now have only one paper left… and a project.)

That’s an awful list. The only way that I’m managing to keep it together is that in a week and a half I will be flying to Nebraska to spend 2 and a half weeks back home. It will be nice to go home and to see a lot of friends and family… though I’m mostly excited to snuggle with my niece. (Sorry everybody else, but you come second.)

I really don’t have the mental capacity to write much about the craziness of the last few weeks, it makes me tired to think about it. But soon I will be able to say that I’ve survived my first semester of grad school. That will be wonderful.

Yippee.

This is a short post because apparently typing wears me out… doesn’t bode well for the 2000 word paper I need to write. {It is finished now!}

Wish me luck.

This post sounds a bit like it’s the end of the world, I promise it’s not, I’m just sick… and injured… and stressed… let’s just think about Christmas m’kay?

To all the haters

I loved the live version of “The Sound of Music.” There, I said it.

I know that this event got a lot of bad reviews, but sadly, everyone who slammed it didn’t pay attention to the plethora of advertisements and featurettes that repeatedly stated that this wasn’t a remake of the Julie Andrews movie. This was a production of the Broadway version of The Sound of Music.

I don’t know about you, but my high school put on The Sound of Music. I was in charge of costumes for the show and the first time I heard the rehearsal, I was a little confused because the songs were in a different order from the movie. The overall musical was different from the movie in many ways. But that’s the thing with live musicals. They are different because they are more constrained in their creativity.

So, when you view the NBC production as a live broadway musical that just happens to be filmed, it doesn’t seem as bad. But there are other complaints that I saw that I want to address as well:

Carrie Underwood’s acting: It wasn’t that great but you can tell that she tried. Acting is insanely hard– especially for live acting where an audience would normally be far away. How you act for a movie is different from how you act in a play. And while she didn’t sound like Julie Andrews, she still sounded great.

The costumes: I think one review I saw said that the costumes looked like they came from a community theatre… that’s a major insults to community theatres everywhere. However, I believe that the costumes looked like they came from Broadway, and guess what? They did! Costumes for plays are different than for movies. You have to allow for clothes to fit underneath in case of a quick change. They are made to be viewed from a distance and not up close.

Mess ups: This is a live show people. There are going to be mistakes. All the mistakes that I saw were handled beautifully, that is, they happened and then were played off.

Plays and musicals are super different from movies and television shows. They get one shot to get it right. It’s also sad that so many people have never really seen live plays or musicals. Having been to an off-broadway show before, I can say that The Sound of Music was pretty similar.

I know a lot of people disagree with me, but it was just fun to see a favorite musical of mine, live. This kind of thing doesn’t happen often and I think people should pay attention to the difficulty and the talent it takes to perform a live three-hour show. And while I love the Julie Andrews version, I love the broadway version as well.

Although, here’s a quote that I agree with from The Washington Post, “It was a stage show with no audience to play off of; it was a movie with no sense of scope.”

What I’m listening to: Christmas Edition

Bah! It’s Christmas and I can now, unashamedly listen to Christmas music unhindered! If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you’ve probably seen my Spotify playlist, but I wanted to get you a concise list of some of my go-to Christmas music artists. There are so many artists who I love to listen to, so let’s get to it!

In no particular order:

Holidays Rule- various artists: From The Civil Wars to fun., this album has so many great artists (most of whom I’ve never heard of before), but they have a fun take on many different classic Christmas songs and some I’d never heard before.

Straight No Chaser- I love these guys. They have very fun takes on so many Christmas songs and it’s fun to listen how they make the songs their own. They are an acapella group, so that makes them even more unique.

The Piano Guys- A Family Christmas: I also love these guys. While their renditions of many classic Christmas songs sound, well, normal, they are performed very uniquely. Just watch the video below to see what I mean.

Relient K- Let it snow, Baby, Let it Reindeer: This is just a classic. Relient K has always been a fun group and they don’t let that go in this album.

A Bing Crosby Christmas- You really can’t go through the Christmas season without the oldies. These renditions are just comforting and calming to listen to.

As you can see, this is a very eclectic range of styles, but I don’t want to listen to the same sounding artists all the time. I love the contemporary takes and the classic renditions. I hope you enjoyed this list, and I want to know, who do you like to listen to during the Christmas season?