Senioritis by Beckett Smith

I know, I know. It is way to early to already be done with high school. In my defense, though, I’ve been done since last June. I’ve already been admitted and committed to Kent State for like a whole month now. The fact that I have to wait seven more months before I can be done with all this is intolerable. So I’ve been distracting myself by doing anything but my schoolwork.

The number one thing I’ve been doing is anything related to college. Scholarship applications, dorm research, roommate searching, major research, CCP class registration for the spring. Am I going to bring my car? Will I keep my job? So many things to do and decisions to make (never mind that nothing needs to be finished before February). It gets me thinking about college, which distracts me from the fact that I have what feels like an eternity left. There are about a million things to do before I go to school next year, and I will finish them all before April at the rate I’m going.

I’ve also been planning for Christmas. I have a schedule for Christmas cookies. I’m forcing my cousins and siblings to family events, and pushing my mom to start scheduling all of our usual traditions. I even made my own Christmas playlist!

And finally, I’ve been playing video games so much, which, you know, not that unusual for me. I just finished playing AC Origins and I’m starting Valhalla. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Origins, and how fun Valhalla has turned out to be. I’ve also gotten really into the Sims again, go figure. Gotta live vicariously through simulated people when the monotony of your own life is getting to you.

The point of this is that senioritis is hitting me early and hitting me hard. I’m sure I’ll have to scramble to make it through the last half of this year without failing anything, but for now I’m happy with my simple distractions.

When The Worst Happens By Elliot Rendall

Well, I think my literal worst nightmare came to life this week. And not even like a cool obscure nightmare that only my brain could come up with. A nightmare me and every other theater kid has had before.

I got up on stage, said my name and what I was singing- and then started to sing the wrong part of the song. Despite days and days of singing it over and over again, preparing for this moment, I made one of the worst mistakes possible. I felt every muscle in my body realize it and tense up as I completely blanked on what my lyrics actually were, and just kept singing the wrong ones. After attempting to roll with it and completely failing, I stopped myself and apologized, before rushing off the stage.

I absolutely, completely, totally choked. Something I hadn’t even had on my anxiety radar (which is shocking considering how anxious of a person I am).
Things that were on my anxiety radar are listed as follows:
1) Singing the wrong notes
2) Cracking because I lost my voice last week*
and in a TINY little footnote at the bottom of the page

*maybe forgetting the lyrics but I don’t think that’s at all possible

In my opinion, I didn’t forget the lyrics. I remembered the other part of the song really well. I’m just that dedicated to my craft. I’m amazing, I know.

Very kindly however, the directors encouraged me to have another go at it- and after looking at my lyrics again, I took a deep, grounding breath, and sang my little heart out. And not half bad, in my opinion. While I did cry out of deep, deep, embarrassment afterwards, I am incredibly proud of myself for having the ability to pull myself together after all that and try again.

In summary- there is a possibility your little anxiety footnotes will come true. But they might not be as bad as they seem. I take it as an opportunity to act as if this is rock bottom, and there’s no way to go but up: so why wouldn’t you give it your absolute all? And if the experience really is just as bad as you thought it might be, then maybe you’ll come out the other side thinking, ‘hey, this would be a really good college essay or blog post’.

Really Cool Lego Sets I don’t Have the Money for by Sarah Marcus

Whenever I see an ad for Legos or walk through the isles of Target, I always see these really cool Lego sets. However, the problem with this is that they are SOOOO expensive, and I don’t have the time nor the money to purchase all these amazing sets. I also haven’t built Legos since I was like 8 years old. I wasn’t even a Lego kid. I had a few Lego sets throughout the years, but it was never one of my favorite toys. If I could go back and be a Lego kid now, I 100% would. Here is a list of my favorite Lego sets and how much money they cost (spoiler alert: the price is always way too expensive):

  1. The Lego Eiffel Tower  – $629.99 This is just awesome, but I didn’t know that Legos have age limits. Luckily I am barely old enough to build this 18+ Lego set.
  2. The Globe – $229.99  In my brain, an office needs to have a globe. A globe makes you look official and shows that you are successful. Even though I learned about the biases behind maps in TOK last year, I think for my fully-official, adult office, I will need a globe. The thing about this globe is you know that if I have it on my desk, I must be REALLY successful. Because this globe not only proves that I have enough money to spend $200 dollars on a Lego set I will use once, but it also shows that I have enough free time to spend hours on this project.
  3. Hogwarts Castle -$469.99 When I think of awesome Lego sets, this is what I think of every time. Hands down. While I will be buying every Harry Potter Lego Set, in my imaginary life, this one will undoubtedly be the first one. My 10-year old self wanted this so bad, even though I was completely unaware of its existence. 
  4. The Lego Typewriter -$249.99  All I can say is I am currently trying to find a justification to buy this for myself.
  5. The Orchid Set -$49.99 This is the room decor I didn’t know I needed, and it’s “actually” under $50 (if you ignore tax and shipping).
  6. Porsche 911 -$169.99 I may never be able to own a Porsche or get up the courage to actually drive it without the fear of immediately crashing or scratching it, but I can buy this Lego set, and my wallet will be just as empty as if I bought the real thing. 

I would keep making this list longer, but I have spent too much time on the Lego website, and I’ve ignored my never-ending to-do list. Tip of Advice: DO NOT GO ON THE LEGO WEBSITE. No one is rich enough to afford all the awesome Legos on that website, and you may become very far behind in other areas of your life as you endlessly add things to your wish list. 

My Favorite Baked Goods in Cleveland by Meg Hahnenberg

Macarons

When I was little I loved to help my mom bake in the kitchen. We would knead dough, decorate cookies, and occasionally I would have the privilege of licking a frosting-covered spatula. I got so much joy from watching a recipe come to life (not literally though, I’m traumatized enough from the gingerbread man book already). In middle school, I spent countless hours watching baking tutorials and shows. My favorite will always be Cupcake Wars, which inspired my ever lasting love for aesthetic cupcakes. I loved baking everything from brownies to cakes to cookies. I even attempted macarons and croissants, although neither of them turned out to be what I had hoped. After the COVID-19 lock-down, I’ve barely had time to bake, mostly thanks to my workload from IB. Thankfully, I still have some time every once in a while to drive around Cleveland in search of my next favorite baked good. Below I have included some of my favs.

  1. Salted Caramel Macaron from Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes
    • Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes (KEC) is my FAVORITE bakery in all of Cleveland. Her pastries are adorable and at time sugar-coma inducing, but she never fails to amaze me with how delicious everything is. Over the years she has sold hundreds of different flavors of macarons, and the salted caramel flavor is one of my favorites. They are baked perfectly every time and the frosting compliments the cookie so well. Although I love salted caramel, I simply cannot ignore another favorite flavor of mine: peppermint. Her peppermint macaron is only available near the holidays, so get yourself one while you still can!
  2. Killer brownies from Dorthy Lane Market
    • I wasn’t sure if I was going to include this one on the list, but I couldn’t see why not. These have been a longtime favorite of mine, but up until recently I was under the impression that they are only sold at Dorthy Lane Market in Dayton Ohio! Now KEC carries them in store along with the rest of her incredible baked goods! I don’t think I could even tell you what is in this brownie, its just delicious. They have a variety of flavors so if you like caramel in your brownies, they’ve got you covered! To be quite honest, these are some RICH brownies; I find that a quarter of one is just enough for me.
  3. Chocolate Chip Walnut Blondie from On the Rise
    • This was the first baked good that I ever liked that had walnuts in it. I used to be a big walnut hater, but after falling in love with this treat, I’ve been converted. Like the killer brownie, this blondie is rich and chock-full of walnuts and chocolate. Honestly, this blondie is just a giant chocolate chip cookie with walnuts. Yum!
  4. Cinnamon Raisin Bread from On the Rise
    • Although On the Rise has some great sweets, I might love them more for their variety of breads. I absolutely love their cinnamon raisin bread, which comes in a small loaf with, you guessed it, cinnamon and raisin inside! I love to eat this with my breakfast and preferably a bit of butter.
  5. Scone from Juma
    • Unfortunately the Juma cafe near Van Aken is long gone. Thankfully before they shut down I had the chance to try one of their scones! The first time I went to Juma was after the Sunday matinee of a show I was in, Willy Wonka or Hello Dolly maybe. I must’ve been really hungry after the performance, because I remember that scone as one of the best things I had ever eaten in my life!

Thank you for reading my rambling on about my favorite treats! I also wanted to mention Koko bakery, where I LOVE to get strawberry boba. However, boba isn’t a baked good so I couldn’t really include it in my list. Again, thank you for reading and please leave other bakery suggestions in the comments!

Go ‘Murica! By Brendan Zbanek

The 2022 World Cup officially kicked off last week, and somehow, now the whole world seems to love soccer. Everybody I talk to acts like they watch soccer every week and follow all of the leagues, whether it be the Premier League in the UK, or the Champions League in all of Europe. But let’s be honest! I know for a fact that some of these people have never watched a single minute of soccer in their lives!

Although my 11 year soccer career ended promptly after eighth grade, soccer has arguably been the biggest part of my family forever. If you walk into my house, you will be greeted by some random soccer game playing on the TV. (I am not exaggerating. Soccer is ALWAYS on.) My dad played soccer all the way through high school, my older brother played soccer through his senior year and still plays intramural at college, and — as everyone seems to know — my younger brother, who is a freshman here at Shaker, plays on the varsity team in addition to club teams year round.

Needless to say, I can confidently proclaim that I understand the rules and the game of soccer. But, I hate watching the World Cup. Not only has my TikTok “For You Page” been taken over by videos regarding the tournament, but the one USA game that was during school somehow made its way to the SmartBoard in my class. Was I excited because I wanted to go home to watch the game but couldn’t? Absolutely. But as the game progressed, I just started to get increasingly infuriated. With just blatantly wrong claims about every single play and every single call from the refs, watching a World Cup game in a class of 20 IB kids just reminded me of sitting next to my grandparents (who don’t know soccer for the life of them) watching my little brother play.

I am not saying that everyone needs to take the time to fully understand all of the intricacies of this sport; it is absolutely not necessary in order to watch the game. However, I just wanted to yell at everyone when they said one thing even slightly wrong. 

  • Fouls happen, and the majority of the ref’s calls are typically fair. 
  • No, the clock is not supposed to stop when someone gets hurt or they stop playing for some reason.
  • Not every shot on goal was a “good” shot. (Usually when I hear people say this, it was genuinely a bad shot…)
  • Yes, offsides is a real rule, and no, they should not get rid of it.

There are countless other things I could say after hearing what some of these people were saying during the game, but I’ll keep them to myself. You get the gist!

So yes, watch soccer! It’s a fun sport! 

But just please, please, please: Keep your crazy statements that are just simply wrong to yourself!

Unthanksgiving by Evan Barragate

 

791 Angry Turkey Illustrations & Clip Art - iStock

 

Everyone I have spoken to agrees that this Thanksgiving break felt long. It usually feels like the shortest break of the year, but this time it was different. Having so many days off gave me a lot of time to think, which is something I typically avoid doing. I expect that most people spent time thinking. As stress fades with the absence of work and classes and families come together around a delightful meal, people can’t help but think about all the things they are grateful for. And as I said, this free-time does make me think. But the happiness and compassion in the air fill my brain with thoughts of everything I am unthankful for.

This Thanksgiving, I thought about how ungrateful I am for anything sentimental. When I scrolled through my phone, I saw countless posts telling me things like, “Even if I don’t know you, I am thankful for you. I am thankful that you are here.” All I could think to myself was, “Wow. I am so not thankful for whoever posted this. Why would I want to see it?” Though this does not only happen during the Turkey holiday. The sentimentality tortures me year-round when I see it in Instagram captions and posts, picture frames, and on posters in the school hallways. It’s more than just “live, love, laugh.” Any ounce of touchiness or drama fills me with fury. When I see comments on social media posts from people’s boyfriends or girlfriends talking about how good they look, how much they love them, how much they want to see them, or anything trying to be clever and cute, I throw up in my mouth. It isn’t that I don’t want people to have loving relationships; I just don’t want to see all the loveyness. This, probably, is what I am least thankful for.

The worst aspect of every holiday centered around family, whether Thanksgiving or Christmas, is the unfortunate need to celebrate them with relatives whose opinions conflict with our own. Eating stuffing next to the sexist uncle is something we dread each year. I am very ungrateful for this, and I’m not just referring to conflict between family members. Many people appreciate exposure to those who think differently than them. Many people are open-minded. I am neither open-minded nor appreciative. I never want to be surrounded by people who disagree with me, and not just politically. I would cut off any friend who I found out didn’t like pickles or olives. I don’t want to know why they don’t like these foods; I never want to see them again. I’m thankful for all of the people in my life who are close to me. Unless they disagree with me. Ever.

As humans, we are an incredibly progressive species because of our ability to communicate with one another. At this point, our communication skills have advanced so much that we are able to have inspirational and intellectual phrases and speeches. I would expect that people are thankful for the beauty of the spoken word and its ability to uplift us. By now, you can expect that I am not thankful for this. One of the speeches I have been forced to hear over and over again throughout my life is about how the actual definition of insanity is doing the same thing several times, consistently failing, and expecting different results. When people say this, they try to send me a message: I am the most clever, intelligent, unique person in the world — this definition is different than what you expected it to be, and that is because I am smarter than you — who else would have an idea this eccentric and bright? The phrase contradicts itself because it has been repeated to me millions of times with the intention of inspiring me, but it never does. I’ve never been less inspired by anything I’ve ever heard. First, the definition of insanity is being crazy; there is no other meaning. Second, I don’t know who this speech is trying to reach because nobody does the same thing over and over if they fail. When people fail, they just give up. I wish the world would revert to when everyone was stupid and everyone knew they were stupid. I will never be grateful for the enhancement of intelligence (or perceived intelligence) because it leads to dramatic sayings that irritate me.

Even though I just dedicated my Thanksgiving-themed blog to rant about the many things I am unthankful for, I still consider myself a relatively grateful person. If you think about it, maybe all the things I am ungrateful for make me grateful for the opposite. I am ungrateful for sentimental things because I am grateful for sarcasm. I am ungrateful for people who think differently than me because I am grateful for people who think just like me. I am ungrateful for inspirational, profound phrases because I am grateful for funny, stupid ones.

See. Look how grateful I am.

My Search History by Anna Welsh

I love Google. If Google took me on a romantic beach picnic and proposed to me as the sun set, I would unquestionably say yes. Not that I’ve planned my wedding with Google. Maybe. I am also a very curious person. I probably Google 100 things per day. I’ve compiled a list of some of my most recent searches and the reasoning behind each of them. 

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle 

Incredible movie. I don’t care about any of your pretentious film snobberies, this movie slaps. According to Wikipedia, it is a “buddy stoner comedy film.” I do not condone stonery, but boy do I condone this film. The reason I looked it up is that I realized Kumar was played by Kal Penn! Kal Penn, the former associate director of the white house office of public liaison. That is just shocking to me, that you can play a stoned character who wants nothing more than to eat at White Castle and in the same lifetime work at the White House. 

Meghan Trainor and Husband 

While I was supposed to be doing homework, I instead found myself falling into the rabbit hole of Meghan Trainor lore. Now, I wouldn’t call myself a Meghan Trainor fan. I would call myself easily distracted, though. Did you know Meghan Trainor and her husband (Juni Cortez from Spy Kids) have His and Hers toilets? That’s weird. I don’t like that. 

Takis Turkey

A lovely Thanksgiving pondering. Could one rub Taki dust on a turkey, cook it, and eat it? The results were sparse, but I did come up with a Youtube video of a wild-eyed man rubbing a turkey in the fabled electric blue Taki dust. 

Chevy Chase Bad

I was gathering evidence for my case against (shudder) comedian Chevy Chase. Sometimes I just like to talk about how much I hate Chevy Chase. 

Takis Dust

I want to be able to buy just the dust and put it on various foods. I didn’t find any dust for sale, but I did notice that there were strangely-shaped Takis for sale on eBay for about $10,000 each. Wild. 

Do all Priests Believe in God 

You know what, I think this is a really good question, inspired by the movie First Reformed, which I watched over break. It is a film about a nihilistic priest (Ernst Toller) going through an environmentalist awakening. Toller’s demonstrated faith made me question the beliefs in the Church. 

How to Become a Chocolatier

I feel like I have this thought after every Malley’s bar. I want to be Malley. How did Malley become Malley the Chocolatier? I am so passionate about chocolate, at least once a week I experience a wave of desperation to become a chocolatier. 

Artie Glee

My friends and I were casting the school as Glee characters. I was cast as Artie and was reviewing my role. 

Greatest Navy SEAL Missions 

I had a day over break when I was really into the Navy SEALS. They’re just so badass. Obviously, SEAL Team 6 has been involved in some pretty brutal and ethically questionable situations, but I was looking at some of the accomplishments. The training they have to go through? I could never. 

Gorilla Noises 

Turns out they make some pretty terrifying sounds. Look it up. It’s truly unsettling. 

Melly Shum Hates Her Job by Reece Turner

Melly Shum Hates Her Job' but Europeans love this work by Canadian artist  Ken Lum

Fixed high on the side of a wall in Rotterdam, in The Netherlands sits a billboard with a tired looking woman in front of a typewriter smiling at the camera like a student in a college pamphlet. Next to her reads “Melly Shum Hates Her Job.” Although created as an advertisement for a now long-passed art show, the billboard has accrued a cult following in its native city. Looking at it, as arguably simple as it is, it’s easy to see why it’s become so popular: the contrast between the portrait of Melly and the writing sharing the space. While she poses as if for an advertisement, the massive, bold text beside her betrays a complacent facade. Though she appears the model employee, her discontent is unavoidable, equal in size and outlined in hazy red-orange lettering. For doubtless hundreds of Rotterdam commuters trudging down the street in the morning or drifting dreamlike and bumper-to-bumper, Melly Shum appears a beacon on a uniform white wall. She lays a wire that underlines the working population like a gas main. And at the core of its impact is its overtness. To view Melly without her exasperation is impossible where normally it’s the default.

 

My favorite thing surrounding the installation, though, comes from one of its fans. When the billboard’s creator, Canadian artist Ken Lum, went to take the work down following the end of its exhibition, he was surprised and somewhat disconcerted by the outcry of support from Rotterdam residents (Rotterdammers?) asking him not to remove what had now become a local landmark. Worried that there was some kind of insidious motive behind this swell of support, his fears were finally assuaged when the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, the building on which it still sits to this day, sent him a message from an anonymous fan reading, “Every city deserves a monument to people who hate their jobs.” The piece became so synonymous with the center that when, in 2021, it looked for a new name (Witte Corneliszoon de With, the institute’s former namesake, was an officer in the Dutch East India Company, sharing many of the imperialist organization’s brutal practices) the center finally settled on the “Kunstinstituut Melly.” 

 

Though the portrait may fade over time or whether the building comes crumbling down, the billboard’s message is overt and unforgettable. And although no details exist about its subject, ask anyone who knows her name and they’ll all say the same thing: Melly Shum Hates Her Job.

Tidbits of Wisdom by Jaimee Martin

                                                                                                

Over my 17—almost 18, in 58 days—years of life, I have learned many a thing. I have loved and lost, cried and cheered; I have even gotten to see a little bit more of myself. While we all know that no thought is original and no knowledge is exactly ‘new’, what makes experiencing life exciting, however short or long, is that it’s new to us, right? And I think the geniuses in the world have always understood that best because experiences are where truths are born—or perhaps discovered; The ‘many a thing’ we do, regardless of how frequent, becomes a part of us.

Enough with the philosophical. One of my favorite YouTubers, Jenna Marbles, used to have a birthday-specific video she posted every year when the time came around. It was called ‘X number of things I’ve learned in X years’ (the x’s are obviously numbers here) and they were among some of her videos I rewatched the most. I thought it was so special how she took the time to share all the small experiences she’s had in her life that we don’t normally see as an expression of truth. When Jenna told me to never go on an all-carrots diet because she did it in college, and it was awful, that small piece of truth wasn’t just funny, it was genuine wisdom. I save tidbits of wisdom like this all the time and write them down in, you guessed it: my Notes app. So here are 18 things I’ve learned in 18 years, or my tidbits of wisdom to you.

Happy reading :))

  1. If you have to decide between hugging someone and kissing them, always choose the hug because the physical and emotional memory will stay with you for longer.
  2. Never buy a new car. Just don’t do it. There’s no reason except to a be a pretentious ass. You save money, the planet, and your reputation when you stick to used cars.
  3. Take the worst job at the best place. A stupid job at a more credible institution will do more for your well-being and life than an amazing position where you will never be able to grow.
  4. If you’re not participating in a curriculum (of any kind) that teaches you to question why and how you think the way you do, make it a part of your daily introspection.
  5. Clothes don’t really need to be washed. Unless you’re sweating profusely in them or they got dirty from the outside, (dirt, food, etc.) you can wear typical outfits three or four times before they need to be washed; the outside inevitably happens.
  6. If you have the opportunity to live somewhere else, take it. If you don’t like the new place, the old place will always be there and you can go back.
  7. What you major in in college doesn’t matter. It’s mostly about introspection and growing your personhood academically. When you use that space to learn more about you and what makes you happy, opportunities will be easier to take.
  8. You can learn to like any foods if you eat them enough. In fact, this applies to any new sensation, not just taste. Our brain has a natural aversion to anything different as far as sensory goes, but the more we acclimate ourselves, the more we can find the sensation enjoyable—and become more well-rounded along the way
  9. If you have the opportunity to learn a new language, take it. Immerse yourself as much as you can because you may think you’re ‘bad at languages’ but that’s only becuase you’re not exposing yourself appropriately.
  10. “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room” is very true. Put yourself in spaces where you’re always learning and being challenged by people around you. And being a leader in that space ≠ being the smartest. Approach people with the desire to expand upon your truth.
  11. If you have nouns in your writing that could be verbs, always revise the writing to add in those verbs. ‘Nounifying’ verbs is the primary way to lose your point or cover up the truth.
  12. If you have the option to make a numeric or alphanumeric password, always choose the latter because it will make a more fun password that’s also stronger.
  13. Keep a year-round list of gifts you would like so that whenever you think of one you can just write it down, and then when giving season comes around (like now) you can just send people your list. I’ve already done this in a previous blog, Gift List by Jaimee Martin, so no need to fret over what to get me from now until college.
  14. If it’s time to apologize, just do it—without ‘but’s and be genuine. Every time you say ‘but’ in an apology, replace that with a ‘**** you’ because that’s essentially what you’re saying. And make sure you say ‘I’m sorry’, not just ‘sorry’ because it makes a world of difference in meaning.
  15. The easiest way to culture yourself is by listening to music from that culture. Also, music is the same as food, you just have to listen to it enough to like it.
  16. If you’re getting a retainer after you get your braces off, get the kind that has a permanent bar behind your teeth. It may seem annoying to have a piece of metal permanently in your mouth, but it’s small, unnoticeable, and more effective than the non-bar kind. You can go months without wearing your retainer and your teeth won’t move, whereas with the other one, you have to wear your retainer 24/7 except when eating. What’s the point of escaping braces if you can’t actually live your life?
  17. Triple dates are the perfect combined date size. Double dates just create competition between you and your friend’s person, but triple dates, however are like a small friend group. Or a sextouple, where everyone is one couple. It can be whatever you make of it.
  18. If you need some easy mindfulness when you’re really struggling, break the day down into however much of a ‘moment’ you can handle. Maybe it’s 5 minutes, maybe it’s 30 seconds, but everything will seem more manageable when you can focus on whatever it is you need to for that moment. (Disclaimer: It only works if you actually put your energy into only that moment.)

Bonus (…and one to grow on): If you want quality wisdom in a short period of time, look at fish. It has to be in person so you can see them swimming right before you, but just look at them. I promise you’ll see how they hold all the secrets to the universe and it will travel by osmosis to you as long as you tap into their energy.

Bonus bonus (because I like to talk): The five things that save the planet are love, art, vegetables, communication and one thing that is not school appropriate. These are in no particular order, but I promise you’ll be okay in life if you have them. Perhaps I will write about the inappropriate thing on a personal blog later in my life.

Winter Traditions By Claire Borden

I love winter. I love snow, I love feeling cozy, and I LOVE the holidays. After the first snow on Saturday, it feels like the winter festivities can finally begin, and just thinking about it makes me excited. No matter what you celebrate, winter is a time for comfort and spending time with your family. I’ve realized that this is the last winter that I will spend at home, and I intend to make the most of it. While I love decorations, there has been enough controversy on the SWC blog about that, so today I will focus on my favorite family rituals/traditions associated with this time of year, some holiday-related and some not.

Hanukkah- my dad’s side of the family is Jewish, and my mom converted, so naturally we celebrate Hanukkah. As the sun goes down, my parents turn on our Hanukkah playlist and we hold hands and dance around the house, in something that resembles a disjointed Horah. Of course we make latkes with applesauce (NOT sour cream), and we finish the evening playing dreidel with m&ms, my dad’s family tradition.

Pippi Longstocking- this is kind of a strange one, but a couple years ago, someone suggested that we turn on a Pippi Longstocking movie. My family used to be obsessed with these movies when I was younger, and we have a photo of Pippi perched on our living room bookshelf.  One year, my mom even hung our Hanukkah presents in the trees outside our house like Pippi did for Tommy and Annika. Now it has become a holiday tradition to turn on one of these masterpieces on a cold winter night when my sister is home from college and revel in the strange special effects, bad English dubbing, ginger wigs, and catchy music. If you haven’t seen these movies, I would highly recommend them. Pippi is fun for the whole family!

Family celebrity- When my mom’s side of the family gathers for the holidays, one of our favorite traditions is playing celebrity. Celebrity is similar to charades, but with a few key differences. It starts by everyone writing down at least three celebrities/politicians/fictional characters/anyone famous or recognizable, folding them up, and putting them in a bowl. For the first round, you can use unlimited words, for the second round you can use only three, and for the third round, you can’t use any. I love seeing my 83 year old grandpa having to dance like Michael Jackson, or my very serious 32 year old cousin doing an impression of Kim Kardashian. It’s always the highlight of the evening and I’ve already started to think about who I’m going to write down. 

Tea party dinner- This is a tradition passed down from my mom’s family. Every year, on Christmas Eve her family would make a tea party dinner with pastries, tea, deviled eggs, tiny sandwiches, etc. Although deviled eggs are disgusting, I love this tradition. It makes me feel like I’m in Downton Abbey and I love the sense of connection to my mom’s childhood. Making dinner is my favorite part, and the atmosphere in the kitchen is so festive and fun.