Culture

Though Christmas is not the only holiday celebrated during this time of the year, it is one that seems to spur the creation of some of the most heartfelt and sentimental films ever made. I have already delved into some of my favorite Christmas movies of all time – all classics in their own right – but those are not the only flicks that utilize the cheer and spirit of this holiday. There are quite a few lesser known films that exhibit the same emotions during this time of the year through touching stories. So, without revealing too much, here are some indie films to satiate your Christmas movie appetite!

Joyeux Noel

In short, Joyeux Noel explores a fictionalized version of the Christmas Truce of 1914 in which the Scots, Frenchmen, and Germans involved in fighting one another decided to cease fire during Christmas Eve and Day. I enjoy this film around the holidays not only because it is cinematically gorgeous, but also because it reaffirms the notion of putting ones differences aside to celebrate something larger than everyone. Whether you believe in Christianity, Judaism, or no religion at all, I believe people can appreciate the sentiment of hope for peace cross-culturally that is evident in this movie.

A Midnight Clear

Like Joyeux Noel, A Midnight Clear expounds upon similar ideas of peace amidst violence by retelling how at the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 Germans were willing to surrender over Christmas. Unlike the other film, however, this one ended with a ton more bloodshed and more of introspective view of how humanities xenophobia and inability to accept and atone for their indiscretions can ruin even the most intelligent plans geared towards peace. Tie that in with the fact that this is a time of the year for forgiveness, I hope this film helps people to learn to be more tolerant- this film definitely showed my own flaws in regards to this.

Mon Oncle Antoine

In this 1971 French-Canadian film, the Christmastime set storyline explores the Maurice Duplessis region of Quebec preceding the Asbestos Strike of the late 1940s. Benoît, a fifteen year old boy, is the prime character of the film, and as the viewer’s watch his coming of age story in this mining town simultaneously linking up with the move towards the encroaching political revolution, this film forces you to look at how we treat people in society; how we belittle and oppress others. Not the cheeriest of Christmas films, but definitely one to bring you to reality and teach you similar lessons to that learned from A Midnight Clear. It also cannot hurt that Roger Ebert also put this on his Great Movies list, if you need more convincing to look this up.

Which holiday movies do you always go back to?

Image: Unsplash

CultureSkills

We live in a society where we constantly feel judged and pressured to suppress all of our flaws and quirks in order to blend into the “norm.” Especially as young adults, it is extremely hard to be confident about who you are when most of the time we are not even sure who that is. A lot of the time, it is a constant struggle between deciding if you should be yourself or if you should be like everyone else. And if you do decide to be yourself, there’s the question of how much of yourself you should be.

Even though it can be difficult to figure out who you are in this world, it is extremely important to take a note from one of the most unique and inspirational figures of them all; Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. Though he may be a fictional character that comes around each holiday season, Rudolph exhibits all of the qualities that each and every one of us need to embrace more often; being a leader, being a friend, and being himself.

Rudolph’s eventual decision to be confident in his red nose is what makes him a leader. Standing apart from the crowd, along with being happy with who you are, is a tip we can all take from the reindeer himself. Rudolph is also an amazing friend to Hermey and Yukon Cornelius. He supports them in their differences just as they support his. Rudolph also makes sure not to leave behind the misfit toys when he is at the head of Santa’s sleigh, and he makes sure to pick them up from Misfit Island and give them a chance to have homes of their own.

Through being himself, Rudolph is able to help an endless amount of people. Though at first Rudolph is ashamed of his differences, he soon learns that his differences are what save Christmas. And while it may be hard to believe sometimes, we all have our own shiny, bright, red nose to light the way on a stormy night and save the day. So while you sit back with your hot chocolate by the fire and watch your favorite Christmas movie this winter, keep in mind that we all have the ability to be our own Rudolph, and that what we think of as imperfections are actually what makes us wonderfully and beautifully unique.

Image: Story Telling Cooking and Kids

EducationSkills

Finals are among us. For those in college, this means papers, projects, and a lot of cramming. For those in high school, this also means papers, projects, and a lot of cramming… There’s just so much to do! Homework, extra credit, paper outlines, group projects. Besides that, part time jobs, internships, after school activities. And before all of those, sleeping and eating! There’s a lot that seems to be happening right now, but there are some ways to deal with all the havoc that is December!

Prioritize.

Always do what you need to do first. Which one comes first: the big thesis paper or that extra credit project? Watering your plants or giving yourself a shower? Going to a club meeting or studying for an exam for that really tough teacher? Always do what is important, and don’t bother with the small stuff during this time crunch. The little things can be slipped in, but devoting large chunks of time to a 10 page paper is an efficient way of getting ideas out, onto a document, and out of the way. The little things you can do as mini breaks in between. Get up to stretch and do a 10 minute yoga pose for exercise, but do this between paragraph four and five of your essay. Moderate and prioritize.

Eat and sleep.

My university’s labs are open 24 hours during finals. In the early 3­-5am hours, students can be seen sleeping at their desk with the screen doing a five hour export. Other students can be seen with three empty cups of coffee next to their sewing machines with half finished shirts and dresses. But whether you’re in art school, business school, or high school, you need to get your sleep and your nutrients! You and a friend can do food­runs. Someone runs out to get dinner for both of you, then you trade and do the same for lunch. Do this for fabric material, photo paper, paint, ink, printer paper. One person can do that half-hour-run to Staples and the other person can do that half-hour run to the cafeteria. Roommates, workshop partners, lab buddies, you name it. It is the time to keep your body functioning during a time when there isn’t enough time.

Know your limits.

Alright. You didn’t sleep in the last 24 hours, and the night before, you only slept
three hours. Your hands are shaking from too much caffeine, and for some reason the words on the
screen are starting to move on their own. You have a dull headache that has turned into nauseousness and your neck is cramped. You haven’t seen daylight in two days. It’s time to stop. Yeah, that presentation is important and people are counting on you. Sure, that exam is 50% of your grade. But what’s the point if you’re going to pass out in front of your professor or wake up to the exam sheet stuck to your cheek? Sometimes enough is enough and there’s only so much you can do. That’s when you take a breather, take a walk, take a shower, take a break.

Dealing with everything is crazy. You and everyone around you are in high gear. Once
you figure out all you need to do, you’ll do them. Keep yourself going with enough sleep and
food. Sometimes, you have to just put everything down. Take it easy and good luck!

Image: TMAB2003