Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Stories from Christmas

The last day of finals for the first semester was December 17th, and by the afternoon of Friday the 18th all of our students were out of the dorm. They were rejoicing as they headed towards their three-week Christmas break, and I was granted the huge blessing of visiting home during this time as well. So a month ago on December 20th, Lizzy and I flew out of Basel, Switzerland together. We had a layover in London where we discovered our upcoming flight was overbooked. Then we were randomly pulled aside and informed that we were getting put on business class! Woohoo! This was a life-changing experience (falling short of hearing and receiving the gospel but surpassing the time I found a twenty-dollar bill in an old pair of pants). I ordered coriander chicken off of a menu! I was served salmon, trout, and shrimp as an appetizer! I had my own personal computer that I could watch a huge variety of movies and TV shows on! I could recline almost all the way back in my leather seat and sleep without a problem! I was served a hot fudge sundae for dessert! This was a blessing because it was amazing, but it was a curse because anytime I fly from now on, I will be absolutely grumpy and depressed. Just kidding. Sort of.

So our trip started off the right way, and we had no problems despite several flights that day being delayed and canceled due to the weather. We spent the first week with my family in Morton, Illinois. And here's the part you're all waiting for: On Christmas Day, I woke Lizzy up early in the morning (our family always wakes up early on Christmas), and I told her to get ready. She came downstairs, and I gave her a dozen red roses. We went out on a walk, and walked to a big tree all alone in the middle of corn fields not too far from my house. We watched the sunrise together, and I said some pretty nice things. Then I asked her to marry me, and she said yes! We're engaged! We came back to the house, and spent Christmas Day with my family, and it was a really great day.

We spent the second week of our break in Atlanta, Georgia with Lizzy's family. It was a lot of fun, and we also got a lot of wedding planning done down there too, which was a huge blessing.
The third week, we spent a few days in Wisconsin and a few days in Wheaton, Illinois. In Wheaton I was in the wedding of Andrew Tebbe who worked with me at HBR last year. The wedding was on the 8th, and we flew out of Chicago on the 9th to come back to Germany. Looking back at our three-week break, I realized we didn't have a single night off the entire time. Leading up to the break, I was thinking things like, "Well, I can take care of a lot of stuff over the break because I'll have more time then." And when we were actually on the break, I was thinking things like, "Well, when I get back to Germany, I'll finally have time to take care of everything." Yes, life has been busy, but it has been a good kind of busy. I'm very thankful for the time I was able to spend at home. If you were a part of it, thank you! And if I missed you on this visit, hopefully I'll see you next time.

Speaking of Christmas, I realized I never showed HBR's Christmas celebration to the blog universe. We celebrated the weekend before finals. First we played one of those Christmas carol trivia games where the students were in teams and they had to decipher the names of Christmas carols which were renamed with a more descriptive phrase (i.e., Jingle Bells is instead "A joyful song of reverence relative to hollow metallic vessels which vibrate and bring forth a ringing sound when struck"). Even though I witnessed them trying their hand at similar stuff last year, I was once again surprised that they were terrible at any sort of Christmas trivia.

Then we played "Pin the Nose on Rudolph".

Poster drawn by yours truly

Tony being prepped for a Rudolph search

Spencer can't find the wall

With some help from the other guys, Samuel was literally wandering out into the hallway to look for a place to pin his red nose

A side view of Erik nailing Rudolph right on the nose

After the game, our dorm took part in our annual Christmas gift swap, which was a big highlight of the year for me last year and did not disappoint this year either. Basically, the dorm staff goes out shopping, and we buy enough gifts so that each student will receive one. Then they draw numbers out of a hat and open in order, and they can either open a new gift or steal one that is already opened, and a gift can be stolen three times. Each class of students - seniors, juniors, and sophomores - band together to help each other get the best gifts. It's fantastic. The looks of excitement on their faces and the hooting and hollering from the other guys when they see the opened gift is just priceless. They are simple gifts, but they get a great reaction. Some examples of the gifts we gave are a belt, a scarf, a Spongebob pillow, a couple strands of Christmas lights, ramen noodles, duct tape, a gift certificate to a local restaurant, a large painting (of an ocean scene), slippers, Euro underwear, several hats, and some soda. Here are some pictures documenting the event.

After the gift-opening was over, we all took a few minutes in our temporarily remodeled TV room to relax and listen to Danielle read "Twas the Night Before Christmas".

So that is a sampling of several of my Christmas celebrations from this year. I've gotta say - it was probably my best Christmas ever!

And now I am back in Germany about a week into the second semester at BFA. More news will be coming soon. Thank you for your prayers!