Thanksgiving abroadBy WHITLEY ARENS
Personally, I was always one of those of the mind that Thanksgiving is much over-looked in America due to the impending “Christmas Craziness” that begins sometime, depending on region and personal-enthusiasm level, around November 1. However, spending this semester studying abroad in England has kind of put this into perspective. Obviously, there is no Thanksgiving here. So Christmas—complete with shopping displays, catchy commercials and, as of just last week, streets lined with Christmas lights—has been plugging ahead at full speed since early November. Still, in the midst of it all, the American visiting students at Regent’s Park College were able to pull together a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner so that the tradition wouldn’t go completely uncelebrated.
Having a classically-American Thanksgiving while studying in Oxford certainly sounds touching and sweet, but finding the correct ingredients for non- English dishes is really more of a challenge than anything else. For instance, senior Stacy Durham, a GC student also studying at Oxford, had planned to make a from-scratch red velvet cake for this little extravaganza. What began as merely a lofty goal of deliciousness turned into quite the ordeal. To be on the safe side, we decided a trialrun was in order. This ended up requiring about an hour-long frantic grocery store scavenger hunt. The result of this experiment was a pink velvet cake… with a little too little cake and a little too much icing. Several things became evident. One: we needed more food coloring, and two: we needed more cake for the icing. For some reason, red food coloring is over twice as expensive as the other colors. So, after much debate, we decided that a purple velvet cake would not only be much more regal, but also much cheaper.
Thus, our plan for Thanksgiving Day was clear—a purple velvet cake with the amount of cake batter doubled to balance with the delectable cream cheese icing. Unsurprisingly, we encountered another hitch in our culinary scheme. Red food coloring, in addition to being more costly, is also just a pansy. The blue food coloring completely overtook it and the resulting cake was…..well, blue. Also, finding a time to bake said cake was interesting, considering life doesn’t just shut down over here so everyone can go and eat turkey. The amazing blue confection ended up being created by two sleep-deprived and slap-happy girls at approximately 4 a.m. Nevertheless, the final product— though somewhat visually appalling—was very, very yummy and enjoyed by everyone.
Also, when Thanksgiving dinner finally commenced, I found that almost everyone had a similar story about a scramble for ingredients and a finished dish that wasn’t quite what they had intended. Ordeals and color mix-ups aside, Thanksgiving dinner was a success. We managed to have most of the traditional dishes. I think the only thing we were missing was a pumpkin pie. And in the end, it was precisely what a Thanksgiving should be: a group of friends, sitting down to a meal together and being thankful for each other’s company. Even if they were eating blue cake.
December 23, 1998: Confessions of a preacherBy ERNIE HEAVIN
Last night my mother-in-law, my wife Karen and my two little girls rode the Light Rail to downtown Denver. The temperature was twelve degrees below zero. My daughters were so cold they began to cry. On the ride back a couple had sat across the aisle from us who looked very much out of place. Even if they had been in the right place they would have looked out of place. They were in their late thirties, early forties. Their clothing was mismatched, a hodgepodge of sorts. They were dressed for necessity rather than fashion. The man wasn’t a stranger to anyone. He was just strange.
“Merry Christmas,” he said in a loud voice. “I have a present for you.” “Great,” I thought to myself. “Of all the people to sit by us we sit next to a nut.” “Merry Christmas,” he yelled again. “I have a present for you.” The man then got up and handed each one of us a stick of incense. Why? Who knows? I think he was drunk, but I wasn’t sure. However, I could tell my mother-in-law was becoming uncomfortable with the situation, so I started talking to them. Something inside encouraged me to give them respect. That’s a funny (arrogant) statement, isn’t it? God’s Spirit would have to prod me to give someone respect, someone made in the image of God. When we arrived at our destination, I told them it was nice talking to them and wished them a Merry Christmas as well. I shook their hands, first the man’s and then the woman’s.
The woman clasped her bare hands and cupped them over my gloves holding on tight. Very tight! I began to wonder if she was ever going to let go. I can’t remember the exact words she spoke, but it was something like, “Thank you, thank you for talking to us,” repeating it over and over. I wondered when the last time someone bothered to speak to them. I’m sure by the way they looked and smelled they had been ignored, scorned and maybe yelled at, but when was the last time someone had actually spoken to them? Driving back home, I wondered out loud why this couple was riding the Light Rail all night when it only went from one parking lot to another. “Homeless,” my wife chimed in, “They’re most likely homeless and riding to keep warm.” Homeless? Those people? I had actually met some up close, close enough to hear them, smell them and even touch them. Was it their fault? Did they refuse to work? Did they have a job? What difference did it make? I have to admit that I was very uncomfortable with the scenario.
After returning home and enjoying a hot cup of tea, several thoughts raced through my mind; the woman’s tight grip, the persistent thanking me for treating her like a human being. Thank God she couldn’t read my mind. I feel ashamed to write this but here it goes. I was also thinking, “Should I wash my gloves? No telling where her hands had been.” However, to my credit I quickly rebuked myself for such an arrogant and asinine thought. Too often we judge or value people simply by the clothes they wear, the degree(s) they have earned or the positions they hold. I can’t help but wonder if the very people we so easily dismiss as irrelevant are held in high esteem before God. Who would have ever thought that the Creator of the universe would choose a lowly servant such as Mary to come into the world? What if God chose His Son to be born in 1998? What if Joseph and Mary were riding the Light Rail, just to keep warm? What if I was in the very presence of greatness (by God’s standard) and had not noticed? …on the lowliness of his servant… (Luke 1:46-49) …Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners? (Matthew 9:9-13) …that she is a sinner. (Luke 7:39) …A poor widow came…(Mark 12:41-44) …for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband… (John 4:16-18)
Interview with a happy roommateBy KHANT MINN
Ju has a very happy and successful relationship with her roommate. Probably, they are the happiest roommates on campus. Why are they so happy together? Ju shares with us the keys to their friendship. Some of us who do not have a very good relationship with our roommates can learn from them and start making it better.
Khant: How do you see your relationship with your roommate?
Khant: Define awesome.
Ju: We get along really well, spend a lot of time together, and can talk about serious stuff.
Khant: Why do you think you two get along this well?
Ju: We have common interests and priorities.
Khant: Other than that? How about your social networks and behaviors?
Ju: Well, we went to Directions together, and are both Global Scholars; we have common friends…and dance and do other fun stuff together… so yes.
Khant: What about your social behaviors?
Ju: Well, she’s more outgoing, but she includes me… and we enjoy goofing off with friends and tend to connect with similar people.
Khant: So she includes you in her social network. What about you?
Ju: Yeah, if I’m doing something, I’ll invite her to come if she’s interested.
Khant: What do you expect in your roommate? How much does your roommate match up to your expectations?
Ju: Well, we filled out our roommate contract and it matched up almost perfectly. So she is way better than I have expected.
Khant: What are the three most important things that you expected in your roommate?
Ju: I wanted someone who would be solid in her faith, and who would keep the room relatively quiet. That’s basically it… and I guessed I wouldn’t be awake all night.
Khant: Only two?
Ju: Yeah, pretty much… and it helps that we are interested in similar stuff.
Khant: What do you think are the three main reasons why you two are so close now?
Ju: We met at camp during the summer, we have many common interests, and we share the same religious beliefs.
Khant: Imagine, if you didn’t have these three things, what would make you two as close as or nearly as close as you are now?
Ju: Ummm… good question. Maybe having the same classes and similar majors? That’s all I can think of.
Khant: Try to think of something which is related to your interpersonal behaviors, for example, your attitudes, tolerance, rules you have about your personal belongings, demands you have concerning privacy.
Ju: Ok. I guess communicating and working through disagreements well and being able to make compromises when we disagree. I think it would be mostly how we responded to disagreements—whether we got upset about it or were able to talk through it