The Perfect Tree

This year I learned that there are two types of Christmas trees: a noble and a douglas.

I was standing in the parking lot of Lowe’s, searching the fenced in barn for this year’s tree. To my left, there were the douglasses. I knew that any one of them would look great in my living room. They had the classic Christmas tree feel, and I felt satisfied with the quality.

Then, I looked to my right. Propped along the wooden fences were the plush, green noble trees. And they were, indeed, noble. The trees looked as though they came straight out of a holiday hallmark movie. The branches looked as though they grew to meet cold winter snow, and I could not picture any kind of tree that represented the holiday better.

I again turned to my left. The douglass trees then looked drab. Dying, even. The only thing that made them more appealing than the tall nobles was the pricetag. I sorted through each of them, however, and found one that would suit my living room. I admired it and it’s imperfections seemed to disappear. But I again turned towards the nobles.

The contrast in beauty was striking. The tree I had found did not seem as beautiful anymore.

We went home with a noble.

Image Credit: Nathaniel Young

A year like no other—2020 in review

in shuttering silence

happiness is fleeting

buoyancy is turbulent 

and the grey world deteriorates

breath is belabored

and the periphery begins to seep in

the color is fading fast 

fast

faster still than hot flames

the fury and the fire in the center

burns has burned and will burn

hot

hotter than before

but still it burns through its fuel

and the sides still fall away than the center can build back

better to be honest 

better to be free

better to seek the middle even as the edges fray

better to worry about the now than lose hope in the future

as the color fades into gray

Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times

The notebook

I recently watched the notebook with my friend, we will call him John for now. So my friend John practically begged me to watch the notebook, and I agreed and give him the normal run down. I warned him that he will absolutely cry. So we get to the part in the movie where Noah and Allie are LITERALLY in the rain in the boat. She’s about to find out he wrote her 365 letters and that he still loves her. I’m sitting there stuffing my face with popcorn, and I start to hear the sound of logs being sawed. John is snoring. He has the audacity to fall asleep. So I do the thing any dedicated notebook fan would do and I pushed him off of the couch. The movie continues and we are at the end where they die together and I am crying, ugly crying. And I look over and John is asleep AGAIN! I asked him how he liked the movie the next day and he said that it was “alright”. And that is the story about how I stopped being friends with John.

Image found on Pinterest


A white Christmas

Finally. After 4 months of not seeing my family, I will soon be home again. In one week I will be on a plane on my way back to Germany and I can’t even put in words how excited I am. I came to the boarding school in the U.S when I was 15. Now, this is my third year going here but every year I don’t see my family for 4 months at a time. I always fly home over Christmas break and the first feeling of stepping out of the airport in Germany is so refreshing. The cold air, the snow, and there they are. My mother, my brother, and our dog. Every year, it is the greatest feeling there is. We drive home and I see our house shining bright with Christmas lights. I open the door and I am greeted by a huge Christmas tree in the living room.

The feeling of finally being home is not comparable to anything else. I step into our garden and play in the snow with our dog. We run around and I go to the lake to see if it has frozen yet. We live close to beautiful mountains, so everyday I walk up with our dog and just sit and watch the beautiful view while it starts snowing. The next day I meet up with my best friend and we go to the famous German Christmas markets in our city. Hot chocolate, waffles, crepe, everything you could imagine for Christmas is right there. All the little shop huts are decorated with lights and snow on top of them. Christmas in Germany is incredibly special to me, and not comparable to anything else.

A beautiful Christmas market in Germany

https://www.wanderlust.co.uk/content/top-8-german-christmas-markets/

For Africa

In about three weeks, I will finally return back to my second home: the Masai Mara in Kenya, Africa. This will be my fourth time visiting the Mara and I am more than excited. While I am there, I will work on a big project for school; working with different wildlife conservation organizations as well as Park rangers that wander the park every day in search of poaching traps. The work these rangers do is incredible. They dedicate their whole life to the park and the animals that live there. I and so many other people are incredibly thankful for the work they do. Without them, the parks wouldn’t work the way they do.

But also, tourism is a very big part that makes these parks work. Many people are not happy with tourism in these wild parks and think that tourism should be completely banned. I do agree that sometimes tourism in the parks can be overwhelming, but it is such an incredibly big and necessary part of Africa. Without tourism, rangers would not be able to save the animals from poaching because the park would have no money to pay the rangers anymore. So many people would lose their jobs, and the animals would lose the protection they have from poachers. Tourism is a big and vital part of these parks.

When COVID hit, and traveling was shut down, these parks suffered immensely. The poaching numbers rose into the sky and many lost their jobs. A lot of photographers as well as myself donated money to an organization called “prints for wildlife”. This organization collected prints from hundreds of different small and well-known photographers in order to raise money to send to these parks. They were able to raise $660,200 in just one month. It was absolutely incredible to see so many photographers work together to save what they love most.

pictures by: https://www.printsforwildlife.org

Flowers

Like most people, I’ve received several vases of flowers for several occasions. I watch them blossom and wilt as the joy from the event fades, or I regain my health from an illness.

When I am sick, the decision to throw the flowers away is symbolic of moving on. I have recovered, and the flowers have given me their beauty and life when I was physically weak. After I regain my strength, I can appreciate the era of the beautiful flowers, then feed them to my tortoise to let him have the last of the gift.

It can feel sad watching them wilt, but when I put it into perspective, they have served their purpose and it is time for me to move on. They brought me happiness when I needed it, and with each day they grew weaker, I grew stronger.

Tossing out flowers from events can seem more sad, because it was a good moment, and the wilting of the flowers symbolizes the moment’s transition from an experience to a memory. Once the vase is empty, however, it leaves room for new opportunities. Another great experience will come, and the vase will be filled once again.

Image Credit: Deluxe Blooms

Stuffed Animals

Children grow up having stuffed animals with them everywhere; to sleep, to play with friends, and even to talk to. The stuffed animal is a staple in one’s childhood.

They come in many forms, from elephants to Donald Ducks, as well as different colors, sizes, and densities. Some are stuffed with more fluff than others.

Photo credit: MVP Plush

Children are not the only ones who have stuffed animals, though. Teens and adults have them as well. As a person grows up, they normally bring or take along a friend with them.

Stuffed animals are sacred, they are given names and special stories that are with them forever. They could be used for emotional support and even as an audience for your singing concert. These items of fluff are so valuable and special to some people that they take it everywhere with them, and sometimes they are so loved that they start breaking. They wear down over time because of all the hugs and kisses given to it.

Stuffed animals are prized possessions that everyone has.

Windows Down

Although the air is frigged on this winter night, we drive around blasting music with the windows down.

Why one may ask?

Because sometimes there’s no purer form of joy than singing your favorite songs with two of your favorite people.

In that moment, all your fears and worries fly out the open window and you are living in the moment, watching two people sing and smile with every word that leaves their mouth.

This is one of the moments that you would replay over and over again when you rest your head on the pillow for nights to come.

I would not trade the little moments like this for anything.

So the simple answer to why we drive around with the windows down on a frigged winter night is simply for the joy of it, because in the end, you only have once chance to make memories like this with the ones you love.

Photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/

Digital Theatre

It’s a new experience rehearsing for a play over the computer. While I know that the performance will be online, most people are together on campus to practice. Doing actors’ warm ups on the camera can put you out of sync with the rest of the people.

The audition process involves reviewing lines and practicing songs. We spend every LEAP meeting up to try out different roles and songs.

I can’t wait for the day when I am back on campus working with my peers to put together a great performance. Although we will be filming separately, we can spend our rehearsal time practicing together (socially distanced, of course).

The performance will be different this year, but we now have a new medium to experiment and see what things we can do. We have digital effects and the blessing of a “retake.” We will work on our own sets and costumes as we navigate through this new experience.

Image Credit: Lucy Kozey

Bonfire

There is something about sitting around a blazing bonfire on a chilly November Friday night with some of your closest friends. It is the smell of the moist wood creating a cloud of smoke that lingers in the frosty air around you. It is the sound of your favorite people, laughing and singing along to old country music tunes in the background. It is sitting close to the people around you to stay warm and to keep the cold from settling on you.

Everything about sitting around a bonfire brings peace to me. It is quite funny how such a simple moment can bring me so much joy. I find myself thinking about it throughout the week, looking forward to when the sunsets at the end of the week, bringing the blaze to cuddle up around and catch up with the same amazing people as I do every week.

After the night is over and I drive back home with the heater on high, and I reminisce on the night and feel the smile that still remains on my face. The smell of smoke and warmth remains on my jacket and hair and reminds me of the fun memories shared from the night around the bonfire…

Photo credit: farmersalmanac.com