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Arthur Read is here to deliver the real meaning of Christmas.
As the holiday season draws nearer, many of us find ourselves drawn to the same old Rankin-Bass Christmas specials and the perennial favorite, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." However, I would like to suggest an overlooked alternative, "Arthur's Perfect Christmas." It is a heartfelt, funny, and surprisingly inclusive Christmas special that deserves more recognition.
For a TV movie that is barely under an hour long, "Arthur's Perfect Christmas" packs in a wealth of storylines. In the primary story, Arthur Read has decided that this year he will have his idealized perfect Christmas, but fate has determined that this shall not be. In an unusual twist, the special addresses the commercialism of Christmas; Arthur struggles to find the right gift for his father, waits in an endlessly long line to buy a gift for his mother, and must navigate his way through a cluttered toy store blaring irritating advertising jingles.
Arthur's plans for Christmas go further awry when his obnoxiously tacky Uncle Fred unexpectedly drops in to spend Christmas with the Read family. On Christmas Day, more comic misfortunes ensue, and Arthur learns how to have fun even when things do not go according to plan, and that when it comes to Christmas gifts, it is the thought that counts.
Meanwhile, in one of the special's subplots, Muffy Crosswire has a falling her friend Francine. Muffy has an enormous Christmas party planned and feels slighted when her best friend does not attend, oblivious to the fact that Francine is Jewish and busy celebrating Hanukah. Eventually, Muffy comes to understand why the holiday is important to her friend.
The special takes great care to establish why Hanukah is an important holiday to Francine as both a family celebration and participation in the greater scope of religious faith. It is a welcome change to the usual Christmas special trope of either ignoring Hanukah altogether or relegating it to some brief mention of dreidels. This is probably the best Hanukah-related holiday special outside of the "Rugrats" Hanukah special.
In the third concurrent plot of the special, Buster Baxter attempts to convince his mother that Christmas does not have to be a big ordeal. As a single parent, Ms. Baxter feels compelled to make Christmas into an elaborate celebration out of a fear that Buster will not have a good time because his parents are divorced.
Buster eventually persuades his mother to relax about Christmas, deciding to instead rebrand their holiday celebration as "Baxter Day." The two realize that it is more important to enjoy spending time with family on Christmas rather than follow any set expectations for how Christmas should be enjoyed. This is one of the most interesting aspects of the special; I have never seen another Christmas special that encourages alternatives to the commercial pop culture celebrations of Christmas.
There are many more recurring jokes and subplots throughout the special, but to detail them would spoil the humor. What makes "Arthur's Perfect Christmas" such a good Christmas special is its willingness to tackle serious subjects. Most specials boil down to little more than "Christmas sure is great, and also goodwill towards man or something", but "Arthur's Perfect Christmas" goes further and creates a funny, relatable, and frequently touching portrait of different families trying to celebrate the holiday season and learning a little something along the way.
The "Arthur" television series excels at these small, affecting slice-of-life moments, and the Christmas special delivers those moments and then some.
Everyone needs a day to themselves sometimes.
Laid back and taking it easy — sometimes that is the motto we all need after a busy week. Sunday scaries? Yes, they are valid – but you know what else is? A Sunday full of self-love. A lazy Sunday spent doing what you feel needs to be done to ease into the next week. Self-Love Sundays are a guilty pleasure that isn't only essential for our mind, and body, but are also a surprisingly proactive way to devote the upcoming week with a clear mindset.
So, what is a more suitable way to dedicate your week's end than a beautifully, connected playlist to accompany your face masks and journaling? Cheers, to a Self-Love Sunday (and a playlist intertwined with it to match). (Please note: "Sunday Morning" isn't included in this list, due to the obvious, but feel free to blast it anyway, we know you want to).
1. "Feel My Flow" – Naughty by Nature
Blast that '90s hip hop and brew that coffee. Hop in the shower and aid to that caffeine craving pronto. Something about this song will make you want to get whatever you need to achieve that morning.
2. "Morning" – Marc E Bassy
Do some stretching or some restorative yoga to this jam. You can even enjoy a morning stroll to this easy beat. The title is fitting, so I suggest you play it before the p.m.
3. "Weekends" – by Amy SharkHave a cup of tea, read a book or do some work from home to this little song. Weekends come to an end, but this song is good when the weekend is over and the week is just beginning.
4. "Moonlight" – Grace Vanderwaal
I suggest letting this one play when the sun is about to set. Maybe do some laundry, light a candle and put on that facemask. Feel free to dance in the moonlight, like the lyrics say.
5. "Lime Tree" – Trevor Hall
Time to say goodnight and feel restful for the new week. Ease your mind and relax with this little tune. Feel gratitude for your lazy day and wash the Sunday Scaries away.
Self-Love Sundays are needed every now and then. Jot them in your calendar and pencil time for these lazy days in. Your mind, your body and earbuds (thanks to the music) will thank you.
The sun rose and peeked through the sheer curtains. Rose’s alarm shrieked. The loud bells caused her phone to jump on the side table. It was time for her to get ready for church. Blindly reaching for her phone, she shut the alarm off and pulled at the covers providing her a cocoon of warmth and tossed them to the side. She swept her bare feet across the bed to touch the cool wooden floor.
Rose softly tiptoed to the corner of the bedroom to grab her clothes dangling on the arm of the bedroom chair. Scooping all of the items of her chosen outfit, she headed to the bathroom hoping that she wouldn’t drop anything.
Round, piercing blue eyes stared back at her in the bathroom mirror. Rose fingered the wrinkles forming around her eyes. So many of them bore signs of laughter and smiling. Slowly dropping her hands, she couldn’t remember the last time she laughed in her home with Tom. Shaking her head as if to erase the negative thoughts, she reached for her makeup bag and went through her regular routine.
Applying her favorite deep rose lipstick, Rose headed downstairs to make her coffee and bagel to take with her to church. The smell of dark-roast coffee swirled in the air as Rose sliced her cinnamon raisin bagel. Hearing the Keurig sputter with the fresh brew, Rose found the interruption of the stillness comforting. The toaster signaled that her bagel was done with a soft pop. It had a delicious golden brown color. Placing the bagel on the counter, she generously spread honey nut flavored cream cheese across both halves. Gathering her bible, notebook, and pens from the side table on the porch she stuffed them into her purse. Purse hanging on her right shoulder she juggled her coffee and bagel in both of her hands as she headed to the garage.
Tom awoke to the sound of the garage door creaking open. He turned to the side and glanced at his phone. Man, it was only 8:30 on a Sunday morning! After pushing his phone to the side, he rolled over to see that Rose’s side of the bed was empty. “What was the woman up to?”
He shuffled to the bedroom window and sent the soft maroon curtains careening to the left and right. His eyes squinted in the new morning sun to see Rose pulling out of the garage in their sedan. An irritation, much like a bug incessantly buzzing around the ear, started to build as Tom’s eyes followed the license plate to their car fading away.
Pulling on his robe and donning his slippers he made his way down to his leather recliner. Switching the T.V. on to ESPN, he watched the highlight reel over the last couple days of dunks, goals, and homeruns.
The home phone blared. Interrupting one of the top plays of the year. Tom grappled to grab the phone before it went to the answering machine.
“Hello?!” Tom’s voice was curt.
A man’s gruff voice traveled across the phone line. “Hello sir, are you the husband of Rose Cartmen?”
Tom sharply inhaled. “Yes, to whom am I speaking?”
The man’s voice was laced with authority. “I’m police officer Grant. I’m calling to tell you that your wife was involved in a head on collision. We need you to come now. The accident was on Jefferson Avenue across from the train station. Do you know where that is?”
Tom’s heart pounded rapidly. His mind was in shock. This can’t be happening. His voice cracked as he answered the police officer. “Yes, I am on my way.”
Running towards the stairs, Tom took the steps two by two. It all happened in a blur as he found himself wrenching the handle of the driver’s side door to his sports car. All he could think was that Rose was dead. His mind kept whispering. “She can’t be….She can’t be.”
Many of us have old magazines lying around, fully read and not of much use anymore. However, we can use their bright colors and prints as a stylish and trendy wrapping paper!
It can be overwhelming to see the detrimental effects of climate change and pollution on the news, from animals dying and forest fires spreading, but there are smaller changes that we can all make to reduce our carbon footprint, and it begins with our gifting season.
To materialize our impact, Stanford gathered some statistics: If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we'd save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
So how can you make this an eco-friendly holiday season while still impressing your giftees?
Here are some ideas.
Thrift shopping can be the most interesting way to find anything from quirky home decor to high-quality clothing! Many people forget that thrifting is not just limited to clothing, but also jewelry, scarves, photo albums, souvenirs, and even more. (Plus you'll definitely save money).
Heads up: if you go to Rutgers, there will be a pop-up thrift store at the Livingston Student Center from 12 – 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 28th. All proceeds got to Reach A Hand Uganda, a nonprofit organization committed to growing the youth in Uganda, and the extra clothes are donated to Planet Aid. Both great causes, and awesome clothes. For more info, check out this event.
2. Using a reusable tote when you shop
You can probably picture what the trunk of your car would look like after doing some intense gift shopping. Probably something like this.
Instead, with your reusable bags, there's no waste produced. And if you shop like my mom, this is our cart after one trip to Target, Marshall's, etc. Throwing a large tote (or two) into the car will make all the difference (and while you're developing that habit, maybe even take them grocery shopping).
3. Using magazine pages as wrapping paper
Many of us have old magazines lying around, fully read and not of much use anymore. However, we can use their bright colors and prints as a stylish and trendy wrapping paper! Add a bow or ribbon and you easily have an eco-friendly and sleek gift.
4. Buying non-material, handmade, or eco-friendly gifts
Some handmade soaps and candles never hurt.
A lot of us don't need more "stuff" per se, so when thinking of ways not to clutter your giftee's house (and the environment), here are some examples of gifts that someone will love.
Tickets: movies, amusement parks, museums, sports, hikes
Gift certificates: spa, restaurant, bookstore, clothing stores
Handmade gifts: photo albums, basket of baked goods, soaps/perfumes, candles (here's a local seller to get started)
Sustainable gifts: reusable water bottles (like Swell), tote bags, metal straws, bamboo utensils, clothes made from recycled materials (it's pretty cool, turning water bottles into cotton-like t-shirts)
Share this with people who are looking to go green this gifting season, because our actions have an impact, and to show others that being eco-friendly isn't as hard as it seems.
A Poem on Love
This feeling hurts. I must declare
That love is odd, and we don’t know.
I want freedom, but it is rare.
The only way: just stop. Follow.
You’ll never see if you don’t show
The feelings hidden in your bare
And exposed heart. The pain will grow.
This feeling hurts. I must declare.
I’m filled with fear that she will stare
at me and say, “Not you.” Although
I’m paralyzed, I will declare
That love is odd, and we don’t know.
The trap of fear will stop and throw
Your life into a solar flare.
You may burn bright, but life will slow.
I want freedom, but it is rare.
Despite the fear, I want to dare
To say what’s on my mind, to go
and say what I still want to share.
The only way: just stop. Follow.
This feeling hurts.
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign