With everything going on in the world today, vacation may either be at the forefront of your thoughts or the farthest thing from your mind. Because, while many provinces are opening up, the pandemic is still present, and – as government officials are quick to remind us – ready to relapse into a second wave should our vigilance falter. And so, many people are torn between the desire to escape to a secret hideaway or continue to hunker down at home.
I love trivia: pub trivia, Jeopardy, trivia board games. So of course I got in on a top trivia trend: HQ Trivia, a smartphone app that draws, at times, more than one million players to live games so they can compete for cash prizes. As the audience grows, the value of the prizes has been growing too. Very few of these players actually win, though.
I have two children doing “distance learning” at home right now. My eldest daughter, 11, is relatively self-sufficient. She’s old enough to follow instructions, turn in her work online and email her teacher questions. She loves to learn and values the peace and quiet of her bedroom, so “homeschooling” has actually been pretty enjoyable for her.
“I like that we can play games, and the stories that the teachers read me, but I miss my teacher and my friends. Mom is a bad teacher. I would give her an F [laughing]. Mom is a good teacher!” – Levi, 5 “I like getting to spend lots of time with my parents! But I don’t like not seeing my friends, and I miss art class.” – Kira, 8
“[One of the] challenges has been deciphering the contrasting and sometimes competing messages we’re given from above,” says a high school English teacher. “The ministry will announce something, the board will interpret it, administrators will chime in, then the union will tell us something different, and we all shrug our shoulders and do our best to institute a messy, poorly streamlined set of directions.”
Where do you normally find yourself at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve? Are you a stay-up-late-and-party kind of person? Perhaps you prefer to keep things low-key in the peace and quiet of your own home? Or maybe you acknowledge a new rotation around the sun by gathering with friends at church for a time of worship? Being on the west coast, we have the advantage of celebrating New Year’s with church friends at a more reasonable 9 p.m., as our kids watch the ball drop at midnight in New York City.
For me, Christmas will always mean baking. I grew up with a mom who made sure there were always homemade treats around, and Christmas meant triple the normal amount. I can recall so clearly my excitement when I saw Mom bring home the ingredients she’d be using over the next few weeks. One of my favourites was some sort of ball made with candied cherries, coconut and marshmallows. We also had mincemeat tarts, jam thumbprint cookies, pecan crescents, and (my dad and brother’s favourite) Scottish shortbread.
Did you know that loneliness is a bigger predictor of death than smoking cigarettes or inactivity? It’s also a huge risk factor for suicide – particularly among men.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among men, namely those ages 15-44, according to Statistics Canada; and in the U.S., white men over 65 die by suicide at three times the normal rate, and are eight times more likely to die by suicide than women in that age bracket. In the UK, 12 men die of suicide every day, and it’s the number one killer of men under 45.
A few weeks ago, I got a text from a close friend saying he was on the Burlington Skyway, the 40-metre-high bridge running between Burlington and Hamilton, Ont., and he was going to jump. It was 3:30 p.m. With two kids just home from school, I hesitated to call the police. But after this person didn’t return my texts or calls, I called 911. They dispatched cruisers to the area and started to search. After several hours of back and forth with the police, they let me know they eventually found him safe and sound. He had been bluffing. I was relieved, but angry.
In a remote corner of my college office sits two full shelves of ‘tacky religious merchandise.’ Surprisingly, I have not purchased a single item of the collection ranging from the rubber ducky nativity set to the John Calvin bobble head doll. Instead, I simply curate the odd assortment of items that friends and fellow faculty members bring back from their treks around the world. Instead of gold, frankincense or myrrh, these wise men and women present their gifts to me andwait to see whether they will be deemed trick, treat or just plain tacky.
Should Christians watch horror films? It’s a question I’m continually asked, especially every year around Halloween. I somewhat agree with the affirmative answers others have given: that by focusing on the darkness, there is opportunity to shine a light; that many horror films are built upon an undergirding of morality. But I wonder if there’s a way to push this defense a bit further. Might there be a crucial connection between how the best horror films function and a Christian understanding of fear?
There is a 10-minute YouTube video with excerpts of Michelle Thrush’s one-woman play, Find Your Own Inner Elder. It has almost 1,800 views and 11 likes. Not the most viral video. There are also two comments, posted a year apart. Both comments say the same thing: She performed this show in my community.