Be Nice It's Tuesday

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Winter Kindness part 2

(Read part 1 first here)

Yesterday, as I said in the previous post, I was thinking about small, random acts of kindness, and then I came across a post by a Facebook page I follow, Kissing Fish (whatever your views on Christianity, I recommend having a look at this page, you may well be surprised at what you find). This post linked to a blog post by Make Me Happy Today, which has a free download of a ‘Kindness Advent Calendar’. I’m not going to repeat everything said in the post, I recommend you all go and look at it here. I think this is a beautiful, fantastic idea – I kind of wish I’d thought of it, it’s just so lovely. I shall definitely be doing it this year, and since day one is to share the calendar with other people, I’m doing well at it so far.

If you are a Christian, then advent is a time of preparation, of looking forward to Christmas and the coming of Jesus. It’s a time of looking for peace, and spreading joy to all people. I often think that Christian celebrations in the western world have become commercialised, and made all about self and not others. I do have a chocolate advent calendar, but do I really need a little piece of chocolate every morning in order to prepare myself for Christmas? Isn’t loving all other people, and spreading that love and happiness a far better way of embodying the Christmas spirit, and making myself open to Jesus?

I have made this a lot about my religion, but the original post was not, and I think non-Christians who celebrate Christmas will see a lot of their values and Christmas spirit in what I have said. And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I would still recommend looking at the calendar, and choosing and 25 days to try and do these acts of kindness.

A little kindness can go a long way, and remember, happiness is like jam – you can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself. So Happy Advent, and I hope you can all go out and bring joy to the people around you.


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Top 10 Christmas Films

It’s nearly Christmas!!!
One of the many, many great things about Christmas are the films, and now I’m back home with access to our full range of DVDs I need to catch up on watching them all.
So here are my top 10 Christmas films, and why I like them so much.

10. The Holiday
I love Christmas films, I love rom-coms, this isn’t the best example of either, but with the combination, it couldn’t really go wrong.

9,8,7. Elf, The Grinch and Miracle on 34th Street
These are all Christmas classsics that I feel I haven’t watched as much as I should, as we don’t have them on DVD, but they’re all happy, Christmassy, and if they’re there I will gladly watch them.

6. A Christmas Carol
There are so many film adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (which I have also read), but one of the first DVDs we had was when I was given a cartoon version, starring Michael Gambon and Kate Winslet amoungst others, for Christmas. I remember my Nana hating it for being too different to the book and adding in some mice as main characters, but I loved it and may well still watch it if I have time tomorrow.

5. Nativity
The first Nativity film is great, I love it (even if it is a bit silly and unrealistic). Martin Freeman is great, the music is great. But then they take away Martin Freeman, and the music isn’t as good, so by the third it’s pretty rubbish. But the original is definitely worth a watch.

4. Stardust
Ok, so this isn’t actually a Christmas film, but when I was in year 7 my sister’s friend gave her the DVD for Christmas, so we watched it in the evening the day we broke up for the holidays. It then became a bit of a tradition with my sisters to watch it at the start of the Christmas holiday, and it’s also such an exciting, warm film, it had to be on this list.

3. The Snowman/Father Christmas
I think most people (in the UK) have seen – and probably cried at – Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, or at least heard the classic song Walking in the Air. Father Christmas is a less well-known short film in the same style, but it’s very cheerful and Christmassy.  In my family we like to watch them on Christmas Eve.

2. The Polar Express
Watching this the other day with some friends who haven’t seen it as many times as I have, I realised there are some flaws to it, but I don’t care. It’s happy, bursting with Christmas feeling and has great music.

1. Love Actually
Hands down the best Christmas film for me. I remember a horrible year or two when my sisters had been allowed to watch this for the first time but I was still too young, and it seemed every time I went into the sitting room over Christmas, my whole family were watching it and I was ordered to leave. But then I got to watch it and fell in love. I have heard many complaints and criticisms about it; some I disagree with, some are fair enough. But nevertheless, it remains one of my all time favourite films.

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Why I love December


I suppose it’s no surprise that most of the things I love about December are the things to do with Christmas, but that’s not all there is to the month. I love opening my advent calendar and eating a chocolate every afternoon when I get home from college. I love the magic of that first morning when I leave the house and all the cars and rooftops are sparkling with frost, then later when the first snow of the winter falls. This year we had a lot of snow towards the end of December, but my family missed most of it by going south in between it falling and thawing. I love seeing the sunrise and sunset from the bus some days.
I love the Panto performances, despite the intense tiredness, and I very when I came off stage on the last night and realised I won’t be doing it for at least the next four years, if ever. But there’s not long to relax, because straight after that the Christmas Concerts and Carol Services start. Again it’s strange doing some of these annual things knowing it’s the last time, but I’m sure I’ll always have concerts to do around Christmas. I was one of the people singing a solo verse in our college Carol Service, which I was terrified about, but it was a great experience and I was so glad I did it.
I love it when Christmas lights start appearing on the streets, and decorating the house. I love seeing strangers wearing Christmas jumpers, and my own collection of Christmas hats and socks. I love buying and wrapping – I really love wrapping – presents, and Christmas music, and just the general feeling of good cheer which is around at this time of year.
Then of course there are more of these college traditions which I’ve only had now twice, but I’ll still miss. Christmas Jumper day with musical chairs, and then the Language Department Cake Day, which does what is says on the tin. All Language lessons are canceled and instead we bring in cake and eat loads.
And I love Christmas itself, seeing all the family, Christmas Church, opening presents, all the silliness which doesn’t seem so stupid for one or two days.
Sometimes the days between Christmas and New Year can seem to drag a bit, but this year we did something a bit special. My Nana turned 80 in October, and her one wish was that her entire family spend some time all together, so after Christmas we hired a house in Devon where some of us stayed, near where the rest of the family lives. Unfortunately one of my cousins and her husband couldn’t be there because of work, but it really was a fantastic couple of days.
Then we were back in time for New Year’s Eve and the New Year Ceilidh, which I have been to for a large proportion of my years, and is always a perfect end to the year.

My song for December is Peppermint Winter by Owl City, which I’d say is fairly self explanatory.

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Christmas Must Be More

Christmas must be more they say,
Than December the 1st ’till Boxing Day.
It’s not just a time for busy lives to pause,
It’s not about chocolate behind cardboard doors.
It’s not about cards, or films or TV,
Not about mince pies, or wine or turkey.
Or waiting for snow when we only get sleet,
Or lights which appear to line every street.
It’s about a star shining high in the sky,
And a baby boy who was born to die.
The love of a father who gave his son,
So think of that while having your fun.
‘That’s it, it must be, it’s Jesus!’ I said,
But people just sigh and shake their head.
They don’t believe, and I guess that’s OK,
But what does that mean for Christmas Day?
For if not about Jesus, if you are not sure,
Then Christmas must still be something more,
Than presents and boxes piled under the tree,
And wondering what people are giving to me.
So maybe it’s peace, this mystery key,
And love and goodwill for the whole world to see.
But if this is so, then please won’t you tell,
Why it only applies to one month out of twelve.
We should love all year round, have peace in our hearts,
Not wait until Advent before it can start.
So this Christmas I hope you have plenty of cheer,
But I more wish you peace, way past the New Year.

Yeah, that’s right, I tried writing poetry. I know this isn’t a proper poem (I would never dare show this to my boyfriend who is a rather cynical writer/poet), but I hope you enjoyed it none the less. This was inspired by the song Christmas Must Be Something More by Taylor swift.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and a peaceful life.

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‘Thank God it’s them’

Before I get started on this week’s post, I should apologise. I intended to write a Christmas based post on each Sunday of Advent, however last weekend was very busy as it was my Confirmation on the Sunday. I hoped I’d be able to post at some other time during the week, but I’ve had many concerts and rehearsals so we’re just going to have to leave last week and move on.

You may or may not have heard of a song called Do They Know It’s Christmas, by Band Aid (I’m not sure how well known it is in other countries so I’ll link to the different versions). This is a song which has been released four times, in 1984, 1989 and 2004 to raise money for famine relief aid in Africa, and in 2014 which was for fighting Ebola. There are many divided opinions about Band Aid as a whole, but that’s not really what this blog post is about.

I wanted to talk about one very controversial line from it, which was actually changed in this year’s version, and that is ‘Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you’. I’ve heard many people complaining about that line, saying how horrible it is to ‘thank God’ that someone else is suffering. And I can definitely see where these people are coming from.But I actually interpret the line in a different way. It’s not saying you should be thankful that they are suffering, it’s saying that we are lucky, and it’s OK and right to be thankful for everything that you have.It’s saying that while it’s important to think of other people suffering, and we should do something to help them, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t enjoy our Christmas. And I think it is important, especially at this time of year, to think about how much we have, and one way in which people do this is by comparing it to other people. And yes, we almost definitely should cut back on some of the extravagances of Christmas, and do more to help other people, but we still should have to feel bad for enjoying ourselves, we should just appreciate what we have.

So I think a much worse line in the song is ‘The greatest gift they (the people in Africa) will get this year is life’. If they said the only gift, then fair enough. But the greatest gift any person ever gets is life. Again, I know there are two ways of looking at this, some people would say the line is just highlighting the fact that for a lot of people that is all they have. But no flashy presents can be better than the fact that we are alive, on this beautiful planet, and again, I think people need to appreciate more what a truly marvelous gift that is.

I hope you’re all enjoying the run up to Christmas, I shall probably do one more post on Christmas eve, but until then have fun 🙂

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The insane busy-ness is with me once again, so this’ll just be a quick one.

I wrote a blog post last Sunday about the start of Advent, which I was very excited about, although even I have to admit that at first there wasn’t much Christmas around (except for shop displays). But this week Christmas has well and truly begun, and here are some signs of it which I’ve spotted:

  • Christmas music: I put the Christmas onto my iPod towards the end of last week, but spent most of this week listening to it, and my maths test on Thursday was made much more enjoyable by the fact that I had God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen in my head through most of it. Even the bus station has swapped it’s normal terrible ‘music’ for terrible Christmas ‘music’.
  • Candles and calendars: I think most people have chocolate advent calendars these days. I always have a Divine one; a Fairtrade milk chocolate heart everyday with the Christmas story behind the windows. I’ve been having it in the evenings when I get home from college, because it would get on the way of teeth brushing in the mornings. What not many people I know have are advent candles, this is essentially a tallish thinish candle with the numbers 1-24 down the side, and you burn a number every day in the run up to Christmas. i always love having the advent candle out at tea.
  • Food: On Monday a boy in my German class (the same one who made me a pancake) brought me in a mince pie from the enormous batch he’d made the day before. Now this was the first mince pie I’d ever had (cue shocked gasps) and it was quite nice, gorgeous Viennese pastry, and though I think I’d still always prefer chocolate cake, it was a lovely Christmassy gesture. Also this afternoon my parents had been out and when they got home we sat by the fire eating crumpets which was very cosy.
  • Clothes: Christmas jumpers everywhere you look, I’ve had my Christmas socks out, even starting to see Santa hats around, can only be a good thing.
  • Decorations: Most of the towns have Christmas lights up, although my village wait until a bit closer to Christmas, and some houses which my bus passes also have trees, lights and wreaths up.
  • Presents: I bought and wrapped my first few Christmas presents this week. Still got a lot to get, and not sure what to get for everyone (actually, think it’s just my boyfriend I’m still stuck on, what do you give guys?!) but it’s always fun picking things out, and I love wrapping.
  • Concerts: This week, as well as the five pantomime performances I was in, I had my first Christmas concert of the year. This one wasn’t particularly Christmas music, but I wrapped fairy lights round my ‘cello, wore bauble earrings, and had a great time. Can’t wait for the carol services later in the month.
  • Weather: It snowed today! Admittedly only a bit, within the space of less than an hour it hailed, snowed and rained a bit, but when it was snowing and everything was getting a dusting of white it looked so beautiful and put me in a really good mood.

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The Best Christmas Ever!

I love Christmas. I could go on and on about all the amazing things about Christmas, but that’s not what this post is about. Today is Advent Sunday, the (official) start of Advent and I’ve been starting to get that Christmassy feeling. I love that feeling, and this year in particular I need to really harness that feeling and keep it going.

Why particularly this year, you ask? Well a few months ago I decided, for a couple of reasons, that this Christmas should be extra awesome, the Best Christmas Ever!

Last Christmas was nice, but it wasn’t a completely cheerful one. It was the first Christmas and New Year since my best friend had died, and followed not long after by the anniversary of her death, so it was always going to be a hard few months, feeling her absence particularly strongly. But then my Grandma died at the beginning of December, so all in all we had a good time, but weren’t in the most celebratory mood, and there wasn’t the same exciting build up to Christmas, so I want to make up for that.

But then my Dad said something to me about how Christmas does just get less exciting as you grow up. As I have already mentioned (and will probably keep mentioning) this is my last year of being a child, so this is sort of my last hurrah as it were, I accept that things aren’t the same as you get older, but I want one last go at the childish excitement of Christmas.

However, as much as I want this, I’m not sure how possible it will be. My December is already looking very full up, and although a lot of it is going to be fun and Christmassy, I also have some stressful things coming up (like important university interview less than a fortnight) and I’m not sure I’ll have a moment’s rest even to watch all my favourite Christmas films!

Oh well, we can but hope. I am intending to post a Christmassy blog post on each Sunday of advent, so I’ll see you next week if not before 🙂