• holidays irk me + here’s why •

Hello, my darlings!

Finals season is here, stress cakes are the main diet, sleep deprivation is the lifestyle… Oh, and Merry Christmas! Here’s a smile which I only deign to grace my features once per year; and while I’m smiling, let me be financially generous as well. Here’s a dime. Go buy yourself something nice.

Wow! Aren’t you just overwhelmed with the holiday spirit?

The holidays are the most depressing time of year for me because:

  • it’s not about family
  • it’s not about friends
  • it’s not about giving
  • it’s not about being thankful
  • it’s not about being joyful
  • it’s not about smiling at strangers
  • it’s not about singing obnoxious songs about jingling bells
  • oh and don’t say Merry Christmas – you might offend someone

The entire year is about these things. Okay, so the holidays give you an excuse to get together with friends and family. Great. But it’s not about them.

Holidays give you an excuse to give, be thankful, laugh a little more. Wonderful. But we should do these anyway. Every day ought to be a day of thanksgiving. To limit it to once a year is ridiculous and yet this is what people do. Giving, laughter, and being happy for no reason shouldn’t be limited to the 12 days of Christmas. Oh. Excuse me. “12 Days of the Snow + Fuzzy Socks Holiday” or whatever people call it nowadays.

I can’t say “Merry Christmas”? Is that really so offensive? That is a joyful phrase and it’s offensive but calling your girlfriend a b—- is not? I should get angry with you for saying the former but laugh at the latter?

That’s messed up.

Merry Christmas.

Merry flipping Christmas,
you filthy animal.

Q. So, Rana, now that you’ve depressed + offended us all, what is the holiday season about?’

A. Reflection.

In my humble opinion, the holiday season is about reflection. It’s about reflecting upon our Savior’s birth – the time He became one of us so He could free + love us for eternity.

It’s about reflecting on how we spent our year; did we make the right decisions? Did we love? Did we forgive? What should we work on to make ourselves a better person next year? Who do we want to be + what changes ought we to make to become that person?

But this makes us uncomfortable. We often fall short of who we want to be. We disappoint ourselves. We make mistakes. And we don’t want to think about or face that reality.

So we buy things, smile, sing songs, drink hot chocolate, wear fuzzy socks, and pretend it’s all good.

We need to stop ignoring the obvious. I think, then, we will actually be as joyful as we like to think we are during this time.

Peace + blessings,

Rana || xoxo

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“Take some more tea…”

“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”
“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”
“Nobody asked your opinion,” said Alice.”

-Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland


About three years ago, my church was blessed with an organist with the voice of an angel (we’ve always had great music for the 8 and 10 o’clock Masses). She’s directed our choir and taught us a lot. About three weeks ago, she announced that she would be leaving to attend grad school. In Oklahoma.

We’ll ignore the fact that I cried for the entirety of the last choir practice and focus on the subject of today’s blog post: we had a tea party to celebrate her next step in life.

The conversation bounced from The Conjuring (something none of us had seen, but stemmed from my fear of clowns and circuses somehow) to Pride and Prejudice to Little Women to gluten-free allergies to a salad recipe I never received to “Rana, let’s hear you sing” to me sounding like a frog with asthma. Of course.

I have a rare disease. I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s where I can sing until someone asks me to (which I pretty much never do because I’ve always had a fear of singing in front of people).

Anyway, tea parties. If you’ve never been to one or thrown one, you need to fix that. Right now. Make time. Make tea. Make scones. Do what you need to do to have a tea party. You won’t regret it.

And, as a side note, Ms. Carrie is gluten-intolerant, so it was fun finding recipes that are, well, gluten-free!

The menu consisted of:

Everything was sugar-free except for the shortbread and the only sugar in the strawberry pretzel salad was honey. It was all gluten-free as well except for the shortbread.

Pictures:

"Take Some More Tea..."

I bought this at World Market. If you can, pick it up! It is //so// yummy (best way to drink it is with warm milk). My only problem is that it’s sweetened with Splenda.

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Half & Half on the left, sugar, tea bar, and all the way to the right is a cranberry juice cocktail with Perrier!

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Plastic forks because we’re classy like that. Also because the real forks were in the dishwasher. And fingers because, well, I didn’t take this picture. 😛

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My advice: take any opportunity to can to have a tea party. 😉

Ms. Carrie, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you this past year and a half as one of your choir students. Thank you for your time and witty remarks and sharing your lovely voice. We’re going to miss you and I’m going to try my best not to bawl this Sunday since it’s your last with us. May God bless you. ❤

Love,

Rana

It’s Not Over, Dear Heart

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the priests at my church recently passed away.

I guess I was fine until the funeral Mass because that’s when it sunk in. He’s gone. He won’t be walking around the church and clicking his heels or asking everyone to say “Amen!” at the end of the homily. He won’t be buying donuts or filling the candy jar in the rectory. He won’t mispronounce my name but make it sound beautiful anyway by rolling the R. He won’t laugh off the crying babies in the middle of Mass and tell the congregation that they’re letting him know it’s time to stop talking. He won’t smile down at me with the clearest and most joyful blue eyes you’ve ever seen. He won’t be around to never get frustrated with anyone. He won’t call anyone “dear heart.” He won’t listen to political rants from our other priest in the morning. He won’t hear confessions.

He’s dead.

But it’s not over.

This is not the end.

And these tears will be forgotten when an immense joy takes their place.

The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming. – Romans 8:18

He lived Christ’s love.

He was so joyful. I never saw him get frustrated or angry. That wasn’t him.

And I guess I never thought about what he had gone through before I met him about thirteen years ago. But I learned yesterday that he had three brothers – two of whom had died in World War II. One died on a sinking ship and the other was killed. The third died in 2013 of cancer. Father Bratus was so devoted and cared so much for his brother.

This holy man felt pain. But that didn’t bring him down. And I need to live his example. I need to be selfless and generous like him.

You know, I feel very peaceful about all this though.

Obviously, it’s like something important is missing and the parish will never be the same, but Father was dying from liver and pancreatic cancer. And he’s in a better place. He’s not in pain, he’s not grieving; he’s clicking his heels and singing as loud as he can to bring joy to God and I know he’s succeeding.

Take courage, dear heart.

This is not the end.

End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.

J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

Update x 3

Howdy!

I don’t feel much like writing an introduction as I’m eating French toast and have at least three assignments to get done afterwards. So let’s hop right in:

Update #1:

This is the most important and, as the case seems to be, priority = precedence.

Father Walter Bratus went home to Heaven either late Sunday night or early Monday morning. He was one of the pastors at our church and I need to talk about him. Here’s the kind of man he was:

  • He was the kind of man who bought everyone donuts on certain occasions.
  • He never got angry.
  • He had the clearest blue eyes.
  • He was the most joyful person I’ve ever met.
  • He could (and did) click his heels before/after Mass on Sundays.
  • He greeted everyone at the ends of the pews as he processed to and from the altar.
  • Just before he processed out, he would hug everyone in the front rows.
  • Once, when I was serving, I sat two seats away as usual. He called me over to sit in the chair beside him.
  • He loved the chorizo that we sold at my father’s store, so he’d stop by every once in a while to pick some up.
  • He loved Polish food.
  • I believe he could speak Polish (at least some) as well.
  • When I would serve at Mass, he would say a special prayer asking God to make me a saint – at least for that day.
  • He never said an unkind word.
  • His homilies could get long.
  • He showed up one Lent with his beard shaved and I wasn’t sure who he was!
  • He was so kind.
  • He was a saint.

Father Bratus

http://www.dioceseofgreensburg.org/Pages/FatherBratusObit.aspx

Update #2:

I still haven’t figured out a blog title. I’m kind of fed up right now, so I’m tempted to make the switch to “Ginger and Arsenic” but I know I won’t have such a bitter attitude in the future. It’s just the teen years, right? Right? Well, I guess skepticism can last a lifetime…

Update #3:

That speech and debate tournament I spoke of the last couple posts? It went really well. 🙂 I felt sick for a lot of it from anxiety, I think, but it seems worth it. Here’s how the “levels” work:

> Preliminary rounds (we have 6 of them)

> Double Octa Finals (if we have a lot of debaters – if you break to this level, you’re automatically invited to Regionals, which is another tournament, but only for those who qualified to it)

> Octa Finals (8 rounds, 16 debaters)

> Quarter Finals (4 rounds, 8 debaters)

> Semi Finals (2 rounds, 4 debaters) I made it here. I probably would have made it to finals had I gone affirmative, but I’m honestly kind of glad that I didn’t. Now I know I need to work on my negative case. Also, those judges were insanely qualified and I’d hate to look stupid in front of them!

> Finals (1 round, 2 debaters)

I think I look like a monkey here, but that's all I have from the tournament for now.

I think I look like a monkey here, but that’s all I have from the tournament for now so I guess we just have to deal with my face. — Click for a clearer image.

Image taken by the illustrious author of Batman and Tacos. Seriously go take a look at her photography. I’m in awe.

I think someone said there were around 90 Lincoln Douglas debaters. So I placed 4th in LD, was the 14th best speaker (which means relatively nothing since there’s no objective standard of speaker point rankings), and I also broke to semi finals in my After Dinner Speech (all the speech categories broke to semis this tournament).

Overall, I’d say it was a smashing success. 🙂

And I get to do it all over again in less than a month for Regionals! 😀 *twitches*

You know what’s crazy? This is my kind of fun. An intelligent high. Wearing suits. Looking and acting professional (well, minus the acting outside of the rounds – I’m still a kid. Don’t rush me.). I spend my money to think. I get up at ungodly hours of the morning (like 5:50, 6:00?), and get to bed around midnight for three consecutive days…

I love this life.

I love you.

And I hope you know that you can do amazing things. It ain’t easy, but it ain’t impossible either.

Love,

Rana