A Family Tradition Found In 'The Family Stone'

A Family Tradition Found In 'The Family Stone'

A simple tradition with a complex meaning.

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Every year my family sits down in front of the fireplace, squeezing onto the couches with Dad's famous hot chocolate in hand, to watch our favorite holiday movie: "The Family Stone." If you've never seen this holiday heart-warmer, starring beloved actresses like Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel McAdams, and Diane Keaton, you're truly missing out on an hour and 45 minutes of pure family drama, chaos, and love.

"The Family Stone" takes place around a family of five children who all return home to spend Christmas together. As soon as the oldest son brings his new girlfriend home, the Stone's become increasingly defensive, sarcastic, and skeptical towards Meredith and her soon-to-be permanent spot in the family, as Everett is planning to pop the question this Christmas. The events that unfold throughout the film depict the natural mayhem that every family encounters, making this movie incredibly relatable. My family also has five children, so this movie rightly touches our hearts as it prompts us to look towards the future at our own Christmas reunions. We always end up predicting the upcoming years, teasing and laughing about who will be the first to get married, who will have the most kids, and who the burden will fall on to have Christmas at their home.

The symbolism in this movie gives it an emotional effect that sparks a reflection on love, life, and strength. The title of the movie not only represents the family, the Stones, but it also represents the heart of the family, their mother, Sybil, played by Diane Keaton. As she is battling breast cancer, she acts as the center of the family, their rock and anchor, staying positive and embracing the disarray that comes with a family of seven. Additionally, Everett asks his mother for the engagement ring she promised to give him when he met "the one." Unconvinced that Meredith fills those shoes, Sybil withholds the ring. This ring is another example of the "family stone," acting as a family heirloom and holding much significance. It is obvious that Everett wishes to marry before his mother passes away, but his mother knows better than to let him make this foolish mistake.

As an incentive for you to see this movie for yourself, I'll refrain from spoiling the ending. I'll leave it up to you to experience how casually, yet effectively, this movie touches on themes such as racism, sexuality, disability, acceptance, judgment, and forgiveness. My family holds this movie close to our hearts, and it has become such a longstanding tradition that I'm struggling to remember when or how it even began. Nevertheless, it is an important and necessary part of our holiday tradition, because as cliché as it may sound, it really does remind us of the true meaning of Christmas: spending valuable time with family, practicing forgiveness, spreading kindness, and embracing the seasonal spirit. I invite you to adopt my family's tradition and add an entertaining and simultaneously meaningful aspect to your holiday celebrations.

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A Goodbye Letter To My Classmates

It's been a fun journey, but now it's time to go our separate ways.
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To all of my classmates,

Wow. We did it. Some of us…eh…close call; I would have lost that bet! But we did it. It’s here. It’s about time to graduate high school. I’m still kind of in disbelief myself, I mean, it feels like yesterday we were all wearing Abercrombie graphic tees and jamming to Hannah Montana and The Jo Bros on the bus ride home. I can’t believe it’s been 12 years, I really can’t believe most of us have gone to school together for that long either. I just…it feels weird that next year we won’t all be together.

In less than a month were going to eat our last ever crappy high school lunch, put in our last ever high school locker combination, take our last ever high school final, and take one last look at the high school halls we’ve walked for 720 days. In less than a month, were going to walk across a stage, look out in the crowd and see the same faces we’ve seen since we were in kindergarten: that boy you had a crush on in third grade, the girl that made fun of you for not wearing Abercrombie in fifth grade, the kid who you were blessed to sit by in freshman biology (because without his...”help” you wouldn’t have passed), the first boy who ever broke your heart, the best friend who helped you get over him, and that one kid you forgot even went here. You’ll look out to see the people who helped make you who you are. You’ll remember all the laughs you shared, the arguments you’ve had, and the “group” projects you did by yourself. You’ll look at your parents who are just thankful you made it, the underclassmen that envy you for being done, and that one administrator that made you wear sweatpants because your skirt was too short. It’s true that time flies when you’re having fun. It’s true that high school goes by in the blink of an eye. Part of me wishes I could have a little more time with all of you guys; just one more laugh together as we see the questions on the reading quiz we didn’t read for, one more discussion about how Mr. Mac is actually Bradly Cooper, and one more “Wait, is that due today?” as we walk into class.

There’s no doubt that college is going to be different than high school, but it’s time for us to go. I won’t lie, even though I’m excited as hell; I’m nervous as hell too. I think we all are… I think it’s natural to be. But, before we go our separate ways, I hope you all to know how much you truly mean to me and the memories we’ve made will last forever. I’ll never forget the Friday nights we spent under the lights, dressed in ridiculous costumes, cheering on our boys, or the Saturday nights we spent at bonfires doing Lord knows what. I’ll never forget waking up Sunday mornings wishing it was still Saturday night, and of course, I’ll never forget the only good thing about Monday's; planning it all again.

I just want to say thank you to you all, you’ve truly made my time here in high school special. It’s with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes that I say goodbye. I’ll miss you guys, and if you ever find yourself in the Bloomington area make sure you let me know!

Love,

Your classmate

Cover Image Credit: Emily Branstetter

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21 Quotes From Twyla Tharp's 'The Creative Habit' That Will Fuel Your Artistic Self

Use your half-baked ideas for good!

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Twyla Tharp is a master dancer and choreographer. She's worked with the world's most prestigious artists to create works that will withstand the test of time. She published her book "The Creative Habit" as a viewing window for seeing into her creative process. Tharp offers both hard truths and gently encouraging words for both serious artists and everyday people just trying to expand their circle of knowledge about art. I compiled some quotations from the book that were profound, useful and to-the-point when it comes to examining artistic development.

1. "Creativity is not just for artists. It's for businesspeople looking for a new way to close a sale; it's for engineers trying to solve a problem; it's for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way."

You get some creativity! YOU get some creativity! Everyone gets creativity!

2. "If art is the bridge between what you see in your mind and what the world sees, then skill is how you build that bridge."

3. "Everything that happens in my day is a transaction between the external world and my internal world. Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable. Everything feeds into my creativity."

4. "In the end, there is no one ideal condition for creativity. What works for one person is useless for another. The only criterion is this: Make it easy on yourself. Find a working environment where the prospect of wrestling with your muse doesn't scare you, doesn't shut you down."

5. "Someone has done it before? Honey, it's all been done before. Nothing's really original. Not Homer or Shakespeare and certainly not you. Get over yourself."

Ouch. Toes stepped on.

6. "Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art, if it is not art itself. Metaphor is our vocabulary for connecting what we're experiencing to what we have experienced before."

"It's *literally* like this..."

7. "...get busy copying. Traveling the paths of greatness, even in someone else's footprints, is a vital means to acquiring skill."

Choose your muse wisely!

8. "You can't just dance or paint or write or sculpt. Those are just verbs. You need a tangible idea to get you going. The idea, however minuscule, is what turns the verb into a noun..."

9. "When you're in scratching mode, the tiniest microcell of an idea will get you going. Musicians know this because compositions rarely come to them whole and complete. They call their morsels of inspiration lines or riffs or hooks or licks. That's what they look for when they scratch for an idea."

You know you look crazy, but press on, baby ideas in hand!

10. "It doesn't matter if it's a book, magazine, newspaper, billboard, instruction manual, or cereal box -- reading generates ideas, because you're literally filling your head with ideas and letting your imagination filter them for something useful."

"Alexa, play the Reading Rainbow theme song."

11. "...there's a fine line between good planning and overplanning. You never want the planning to inhibit the natural evolution of your work."

Screw this global need for instant information. You gotta just let things run their course sometimes.

12. "Habitually creative people are, in E.B. white's phrase, 'prepared to be lucky.' You don't get lucky without preparation, and there's no sense in being prepared if you're not open to the possibility of a glorious accident. In creative endeavors luck is a skill."

Twyla Tharp is really just a more Type A version of Bob Ross.

13. "I know it's important to be prepared, but at the start of the process this type of perfectionism is more like procrastination. You've got to get in there and do."

14. "You're only kidding yourself if you put creativity before craft. Craft is where our best efforts begin. You should never worry that rote exercises aimed at developing skills will suffocate creativity."

15. "That's what the great ones do: They shelve the perfected skills for a while and concentrate on their imperfections."

16. "Without passion, all the skill in the world won't lift you above your craft. Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering. combining the two is the essence of the creative life."

17. "My heroes are those who've prevailed over far greater losses than I've ever had to face."

18. "Part of the excitement of creativity is the headlong rush into action when we latch onto a new idea. Yet, in the excitement, we often forget to apply pressure to the idea, poke it, challenge it, push it around, see if it stands up. Without that challenge, you never know how far astray your assumptions may have taken you."

19. "...there's a lesson here about finding your groove. Yes, you can find it via a breakthrough in your craft. But you can also find it in other means -- in congenial material, in a perfect partner, in a favorite character or comfortable subject matter."

20. "A math professor at Williams College bases ten percent of his students' grades on failure. Mathematics is all about trying out new ideas -- new formulas, theorems, approaches -- and knowing that the vast majority of them will be dad ends. To encourage his students not to be afraid of testing their quirkiest ideas in public, he rewards rather than punishes them for coming up with wrong answers."

This approach would've been so helpful.

21. "I began as a dancer, and in those days of pain and shock I went back to where I started. Creating dance is the thing I know best. It is how I recognize myself. Even in the worst of times, such habits sustain, protect, and, in the most unlikely way, lift us up."

Take Twyla's knowledge and have fun exploring creativity in your personal life!

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