Giving and receiving presents

Giving and receiving presents

Photo Credit: MCT Campus

Laurie McAdam illustration of woman loaded down with shopping bags full of holiday gifts. The Modesto Bee 2011. (MCT Campus)

December 29, 2011

Tanusree Munshi

During the holiday season, regardless of whether or not one celebrates the holidays, people tend to be much more enthusiastic and cheerful. The air is cool and crisp and the houses are warm and toasty. Family members come from all over the world just to spend the holiday season with their loved ones so peoples’ houses are overflowing with people and presents. This time also tends to be when people are more giving. The food banks tend to have an abundant supply of canned foods and toy drives for young children bring tons of new toys for underprivileged children. There is something about the holiday season that makes people want to help other people out in their time of need and that may be the most important thing of all.

Others, however, enjoy receiving presents rather than giving them. Everyone loves the feeling of untying fancy bows and ripping open brightly-colored wrapping paper that is restraining their present but some people feel no need to reciprocate the act of gift-giving. Giving presents brings another type of happiness to a person that just simply receiving them can’t bring. Seeing a person’s face light up with excitement and content that they received exactly what they had wanted can warm anyone’s heart.

“I think that giving presents is just as important as receiving the presents. If we do not give then we won’t receive,” Senior Gerald Li says.

Giving and receiving presents is what adds the extra excitement during this time of year, so it’s crucial for everyone to do their share in making this holiday season the best. Happy holidays!

Holiday shopping

Holiday shopping

Photo Credit: Nishita Battula

Some of the writer's gift bags for Christmas 2011.

December 24, 2011

Nishita Battula

During the holiday season, shopping malls are lively and festive with decorations. The malls are open for a longer period of time during December. There is almost a sale everyday and you can see the competition among the stores. I enjoy seeing the bright red garlands and feel it adds to the celebration. The atmosphere is full of happiness and smiles. In addition, shoppers’ attire, such as coats and scarves, add to the holiday feeling.

           Aside from the malls environment, purchasing presents can be a difficult task. Most girls love to shop but too much shopping can be annoying. Sometimes I wish instead of price tags, “name tags” were attached to items. With “name tags” buying a present for someone will be easy because their name will be written on it. But what attracts me to shop during the holidays are the sales that go on. Almost everything is on sale and is half the regular price. But the downside to this are the long lines that take hours. There is always a negative side to every postive.

How was Winterball?

December 20, 2011

Amanda Sabeh

It’s that time of the year again!  Christmas trees go up, twinkling lights are hung, and the weather just keeps getting colder, it’s winter!  On December 10, 2011 we had our annual Winterball Dance.  A lot of students enjoy getting all fancied up whether they are attending the dance with their date, group of friends, or by themselves.  While ladies spent their time doing their hair, makeup, and deciding what perfect dress to wear, boys put on their suits and ties.  After ASB finished setting up the festive Christmas lights and decors, doors opened at 8:00 PM.  Students huddled up around the gym waiting in line to get in the gym.  So how did students like the Winterball Dance?

“It wasn’t really as fun as I had hoped for.  The DJ sucked, and I don’t know, I guess it was just pretty boring,”Junior Megan Miller said.

Miller wasn’t the only one who didn’t enjoy the dance.  According to another student, the DJ didn’t seem to be all that great.

“Winterball was so dumb!  The DJ didn’t even play any good songs.  A lot of us just ended up leaving early,” Senior Richie Weathington said.

However, some students really enjoyed themselves at Winterball.

“I had so much fun at the dance!  Me and my friends were dancing all night, and just having a really good time with each other.  I loved getting ready before the dance, like doing my hair and makeup.  It can be really fun getting dressed up sometimes,”  Junior Rochela Villanueva said.

 

Santa Claws event raises money and awareness

December 20, 2011

Janel Quoc and Ninon Becquart

The Santa Claws event, hosted by Petsmart, benefitted Furry Friends Rescue. Owners brought their pets on the weekend of Dec. 10 and 11 and dressed them up to take a picture with Santa. Money raised from the sale of these photographs went towards funding veterinary bills.

Video taken by Janel Quoc and Ninon Becquart.

Video editing by Janel Quoc and Ninon Becquart.

Music from thesixtyone.com, and is “Holiday Greetings” by Still Time.

 

Holiday decorations: How much is too much?

Holiday decorations: How much is too much?

Photo Credit: MCT Campus

Neighbors in the Ravenna area of Seattle, Washington, begin planning their holiday light displays in September and the Candy Cane Lane has been a holiday show since the 1950s. (Mark Harrison/Seattle Times/MCT)

December 18, 2011

Tanusree Munshi

The holiday season brings many forms of celebration and joy but my favorite way of expressing holiday cheer is with decorations. Driving down streets during this time of year has a separate joy on its own; seeing all of the different lights and blow-up statues entwining houses and embellishing lawns fills the air with a certain blissful feeling. Many people go all-out in decorating their homes, inside and out, while others don’t feel the need to decorate their houses at all.

Some houses put up simple lights and others engulf their entire front lawn with figures representing the season which can end up looking terribly tacky. When it comes to house-decorating, I feel as though simple is the way to go. Large, flashy decorations make lawns look crowded and gaudy. That many decorations not only look tacky, but they are extremely expensive to maintain since the electricity bill will inevitably skyrocket during the short time those decorations will be up.

There is always at least one house in every neighborhood that decides to blind their neighbors with extensive, elaborate decorations and they are usually disliked since no one likes to have bright lights blaring through their windows late at night when one usually tries to sleep.

Senior Gloria Liao says, “Too many decorations cause distractions to others and consume too much energy for just one night. I like simple decorations that are adorable and eco-friendly.”

Decorating one’s house is a fun but over-done tradition during the holiday seasons since some people seems to know how much is too much, but if done in a simple fashion, it can add cheerfulness to the already festive season.

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Winter is celebrated in multiple ways

Winter is celebrated in multiple ways

Photo Credit: Meilin Liang

Traditional red chinese envelopes used to give out money

December 16, 2011

Meilin Liang

Christmas is around the corner here in the United States and Americans are putting up Christmas trees and decorative lights, but what are other people in different countries celebrating amid the winter season?

In November or December for eight days each, Jews celebrate Hanukkah. During the eight days, they light a menorah, a special candleholder, to remember an ancient miracle when a day’s worth of oil burned continuously for eight days in a temple. On Hanukkah, many Jews eat latkes, special potato pancakes, sing songs, and spin a top, called a dreidel, to win yummy prizes such as chocolate coins, nuts, or raisins.

Many young girls in Sweden dress up as “Lucia brides” in flowing white gowns with red sashes and a wreath of lit candles on their heads on Dec. 13 to honor St. Lucia, a third-century saint. While singing, the “Lucia brides” wake up their family members by bringing them coffee and twisted saffron buns called “Lucia cats.”

On Jan. 23, 2012, people from Chinese and Taiwanese descent will dress in new clothes to celebrate Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year. It normally consists of a parade led by a silk dragon, the Chinese symbol of strength, and people can carry lanterns and join the parade. Next year will be the year of the Dragon, and in Chinese culture, the dragon hibernates most of the year, so firecrackers are thrown to keep the dragons “awake.”

“I can’t wait to see what the year of the dragon will bring,” junior Aileen Liang said.

Furthermore, children receive red envelopes from their relatives for they symbolize good luck and ward off evil spirits.

“Getting red envelopes is my favorite part of Chinese New Year,” senior Gloria Liao said.

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Merry holidays

Merry holidays

Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant/Newsday/MCT

The holidays bring out the baker in many as traditional holiday cookies, such as these classic mini-gingerbread men cookies with decorations, are made for parties and gifts.

December 15, 2011

Shivanjali Sewak

The holiday season has always been welcomed in by decorations, lights, nativity scenes, dreidels, menorahs, Christmas trees, and anything else that people associate with the holidays. These past couple of years, however, have seemed to drift away from the festiveness the holidays generally bring.

One of the big reasons why we, as Americans, are distancing ourselves from the festiveness of the season is because of the secularization of the holidays, namely Christmas. Christmas started as a religious holiday, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. As the holiday became popular with non-Christian countries, it evolved into a holiday of giving and celebrating family, friends, and the community, while still keeping it’s traditional roots. Traditions like gift-giving, caroling, buying Christmas trees, and Advent Calendars were all incorporated in as well.  Recently, however, some people have become very particular about the holidays, especially those who do not celebrate Christmas.

It shocks me that some are appalled when they receive a “Merry Christmas” from someone. Some are offended, believing that those who say “Merry Christmas” are trying to shove religion down their throats. What kind of world are we living in today that people are offended by a simple holiday greeting? I understand that not everyone celebrates Christmas, and they have every right not to. But just because you don’t celebrate it doesn’t mean that you need to be rude to those who do. When I say Merry Christmas to someone, I’m not trying to force people to be Christian, I’m simply trying to spread holiday cheer. After all, isn’t that what this season is about?

The dislike of the phrase “Merry Christmas” has given way to an alternative “Happy Holidays,” which is seen as more acceptable and politically correct in public places such as schools and government offices. While I do use the phrase “Merry Christmas,” I also make use of the phrase “Happy Holidays” when I talk to people I’m not familiar with. While “Happy Holidays” is a great alternative and includes all holidays during the wintertime, I believe that “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Kwanza,” and “Happy Hanukah” are much more heartfelt.

December is also associated with presents, presents, and more presents. Stores have sales almost every day and consumers are sucked up into the whirlwind of buying anything and everything, simply because it’s a “Christmas” sale. Last time I checked, Christmas wasn’t a day set aside for buying presents and being greedy. It’s a celebration of life, the joy of giving, and enjoying family, friends, and the holiday spirit. We need to take a step back from our hectic holiday shopping schedule and think about what Christmas really means to us. As cliché as it, this is the “Season of Giving,” and we should make an attempt to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas.

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Merry Christmas, and a happy NBA season

Merry Christmas, and a happy NBA season

The Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem talks with the media after workout at the American Airlines Arena on Thursday, December 1, 2011 in Miami, Florida. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/MCT)

December 9, 2011

Shivanjali Sewak

This year, December 25 will have an extra-special meaning to me. Not only is it Christmas, but it’s also the first day of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After waiting 149 days for a conclusion to be reached, on November 26, a fifteen-hour meeting between the NBA and the players ended the lockout and tentatively scheduled a 66-game season.
The lockout came about after disagreements regarding the salary of players in relation to the salary of owners, with the owners feeling that they needed more money in order to be profitable and the players not wanting to reduce their income. They came to an official agreement on December 8, with the owners and players splitting basketball-related income 50/50. To me, it all just seemed like already-rich people fighting over more money. But all that aside, the lockout’s over and I’m glad it is.
Training camps will start on December 9, as will free-agent signings. Quite a few players, including Kris Humphries, Tyson Chandler, and Caron Butler, will be free-agents, open to proposals by any team. As for the season, there are five games scheduled for the opener on Christmas day: Celtics vs Knicks, Heat vs Mavericks, Bulls vs Lakers, Magic vs Thunder, and Clippers vs Warriors. The marathon of games will start at 9 AM with the Celtics and the Warriors will close the day with a 7:30 PM game. To be honest, I’m only looking forward to two games: the Bulls vs Lakers and the Clippers vs Warriors, because the Bulls and the Warriors happen to be my two favorite teams. As for the rest of the season, each team will play 48 conference games and 18 against the opposing conference, cramming 66 games into four months. Although this 2011-2012 season will be shorter than last year’s, there’s no doubt in my mind that it won’t be just as exciting.
For basketball fans old and young, this Christmas will be full of family, food, and basketball, just the way we like it.

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Celebrate Christmas films

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December 19, 2009

Alejandro Montalvo

Everybody and their dog have an opinion about which of the many Christmas films is the best. Christmas films are unique in that they are only given light one month out of the entire year. The rest of the year, they are shelved and disregarded as holiday fluff. But, come Dec. 1, Christmas movies are everywhere. ABC Family starts its “25 Days of Christmas” and Turner Classic Movies. has holiday classics on constant rotation.

Even though Christmas movies are currently “in” right now, there’s always that special one that stands alone from the others; one Christmas movie that makes you feel warm ‘n’ fuzzy inside. It’s the one you call “the best.” After doing extensive research on what constitutes the “best” Christmas film, the gap has been closed down to two films: “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story.”

It’s hard to believe that “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which did terribly at the box offices when it opened in 1946, is considered one of the greatest Christmas films ever. When evaluating the film, one finds that 80% of the movie doesn’t even take place during Christmas. Such themes as suicide and treachery aren’t really considered family friendly, but somehow, “It’s a Wonderful Life” pulls off such complex themes in a way only the famous director Frank Capra can do, leaving the audience satisfied in the Christmas spirit.  “A Christmas Story” on the other hand, is pure family fun. The film mixes the nostalgia for a time forgotten with that warm family feel, creating a classic. Being a staple of many family Christmas traditions, “A Christmas Story” is nearly flawless, showcasing great comedy and old-fashioned storytelling.

As for close runner-ups, “Die Hard” is a strange high-placed Christmas “classic.” But, after all, who can resist Bruce Willis single-handedly eradicating an entire terrorist team? In fact, the action and one-liners are so splendid that we forget that all this is taking place at Christmastime.  Regardless to what Tim Burton die-hards (no pun intended)  insist, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a Christmas movie. The stop-motion classic from the early nineties is an original film, supplied with catchy tunes and dance numbers. Those who regard it as a Halloween film must have fallen asleep for the last half of the movie.

As sappy as some of the films may be, the Hallmark and Lifetime channels have great Christmas made-for-TV movies on rotation during the Christmas season. Most of them are instantly forgettable, as they are not credited with big names or directors, but they do have heartwarming messages and happy endings, which are the minimums for a Christmas film.

As previously stated, the “best” Christmas film cannot be determined by one source, as the basis for determining the “best” is built on personal feelings toward Christmas itself. So, whatever your favorite is, make sure to enjoy it this month before it once again goes out of style come January.

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Toy drive aims for more

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December 19, 2009

Bach Phan

Christmas shopping starts early this year. The toy drive tests the generosity of our student population during the holiday season.

“We do the toy drive so we can give back to the community,” senior Eric Olsen said.

Olson leads junior Jennifer Chang and junior Monica Magallon in running the toy drive which is part of the Community Outreach sector of ASB.

The drive runs from Dec. 7 to Dec. 15. Last year, ASB collected 250 toys, passing their goal of 150 toys. The goal has been heightened to 200 toys. ASB members dressed in Santa suits and elf costumes to attract attention to their cause, acting out skits in classrooms during third period.

ASB donates the toys to League of Volunteers (L.O.V.) Newark. L.O.V. Newark distributes the toys throughout the tri-city area, reaching children in Fremont, Newark and Union City. Minors, ranging from infants to 18-year-olds, receive the donations as holiday gifts.

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