My Top 10 Moments of the Decade

Today is the last day of 2019. The last day of the 2010s.

It wasn’t quite the decade I expected it to be. I thought I’d publish books, and fall in love, and get married, and maybe move to a different country, and perhaps have a baby. None of those things happened.

What happened, instead, was a lot of personal growth, which I posted about extensively on my Patreon. Still, I was able to isolate 10 particular incidents that I would see as the highlights of the 2010s. (And since I’ve been blogging forever, I discovered that most of these moments have blog archives to accompany them.)

1. Graduating (June 2017)

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My pal Dakota and I show off our diplomas

My graduation from Oregon State University (which I posted about here) was the #1 best moment of the decade for me. The most tangible accomplishment I was able to hold. I spent the greater part of my decade working towards this moment, and in June of 2017, I achieved it.

2. Eclipse Day (August 2017)

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Jenny gazed at the sky as it began to dim

2017 was a big year for me. Two months after the biggest highlight of the decade came the second biggest highlight of the decade: Eclipse Day (which I posted about here).

Essentially, the 2017 eclipse was passing very close to where I live. My whole extended family had a giant sleepover at my aunt’s house, 25 miles north of us, so that we could experience totality.

That, by itself, was such a bizarre, fantastic, indescribable experience unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before or after. But after the eclipse, when we went home, things got even stranger. In front of our house, in the middle of the country, there were a full-blown traffic jam. Cars were backed up as far as we could see. We started frantically making drinks and serving them to people in cars. Then we invited all these strangers inside to use our bathroom.

I mean. I’m out of adjectives, but wow.

Graduating and seeing the eclipse were for sure the best moments of my decade. The remaining eight were really hard to rank, so I’m just putting them in chronological order.

3. The day my Princess book went crazy on Inkpop (April 2010)

Inkpop doesn’t exist anymore, but back in the day it was a website where people would post their unpublished novels, and other people would read them, offer critiques, and “pick” them, sticking them on their virtual bookshelf.

The website was owned by Harper Collins Publishing. The books on Inkpop were all ranked, and every month, the top five books would get sent to Harper Collins editors, who would give critiques. (I actually remember one Inkpopper, Wendy Higgins, who was offered a publishing deal after the editors reviewed her book.)

The book-ranking algorithm was a bit complicated, but let me explain it as best I can.

Users all had a “trendsetter ranking.” If you “picked” an unknown book, and it became popular, your trendsetter ranking rose. The top trendsetters, and their picks, were displayed on the front page of Inkpop.

Every time your book was “picked,” it rose in the rankings. The higher the trendsetter ranking of the person who “picked” you, the more your book would rise in rank.

Anyway. One evening, on a whim, I added a few chapters to a novel I was working on, called Leftover Princess, and uploaded it Inkpop. I literally did nothing else. Not a single thing to promote it.

But somehow, the #3 trendsetter on the website found it and “picked” it. And my book started rising in the ranks. It started out ranked about 20,000 or so, but by the end of the day, it was ranked number 295, and the seven top trendsetters had all “picked” it.

I went to the Wayback Machine and found a snapshot of Inkpop when Leftover Princess was still featured on the trendsetter lists on the front page. Only the images didn’t all load, so I had to hover the mouse over the link to see that it was my book.

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Anyway. I ran into plot issues and never really did anything with Leftover Princess, but that rapid rise in the rankings was a huge confidence booster for me. I think in the end I reached rank 75 or so.

Also, Wendy Higgins, the author who ended up making big, liked my book. I remember her saying so once, in one of the forums. So that was super cool.

(And oh, yes. The 10-year-old blog post about the incident can be found here)

4. Being in a real play (Fall 2011)

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“No eye at all is better than the evil eye of Scrooge!”

I have a deep love of theater in the core of my soul, which will become very evident by the time this list concludes. But in the fall of 2011, I had the chance to, for the first (and only, so far) time in my life, be part of a real play. 

The play was A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, only in this version, Scrooge was a woman instead of a man. I played Scrooge’s nephew’s wife, and Scrooge’s younger sister, and dead-Scrooge-in-the-bed, and a member of the chorus. There was a real backstage, and real dressing rooms. I learned how to project my voice, and how to run across the stage without making clomping noises.

It was glorious. I posted about it, in the very scattered way that was typical of my early 2010s writing style, here.

5. Winning the “Biggest Bang for your Buck” award at a robotics competition (June 2013) 

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Andrew holds our team’s award

One of the best, and strangest, things I did in the 2010s was join a robotics team. I wrote a whole series of blog posts about it at the time.

  1. Robots are Cool
  2. Traveling with Robot Boys
  3. Wendy Darling
  4. Narwhals Always Win
  5. Pictures with Words on Them
  6. Fifth Place and Frugal

I didn’t join the team until three weeks before the competition. I didn’t code the robot, or screw the parts together, or drive it, or troubleshoot it, or anything. I mostly just collaborated with this guy named Nate on editing the tech report and putting the poster together. But it was enough to make me a team member, and so I went along to the big competition.

It was a big moment, however, because it was me discovering that I had diverse interests. I could be the girl who writes princess books, and the girl who likes robots.

6. Seeing NYC for the first time (April 2014)

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I traveled a decent amount in the 2010s. I went to Thailand twice, and Kenya once. I took many trips within the USA, to weddings, and Bible school, and of course the whole living-in-a-different-place-every-month thing. And I made numerous visits to Washington DC after Matt moved there.

And yet, out of all that travel, the five weeks I spend doing Mission training in New York City stands out.

Ultimately, I think it was because of all the books I’d read that were set in NYC. Not just books–movies and TV shows too–but mostly books. There’s something phenomenal about reading something in a book, and then going to that actual factual place. Like the world of the book, the world you blissfully escaped to, is real now.

I never blogged about that trip, because it was during my year-long blogging hiatus of 2013-2014. But I still vividly remember flying low over Manhattan Island. The skyscrapers were brick red in the golden hour of the setting sun. And there, right there in front of me, was the Empire State Building.

I had the strongest sensation that a piece of myself had always existed in New York City, and now I was going to find it.

7. Getting a perfect store in my JavaScript class (March 2015)

My 2010s were dominated by my pursuit of an education. I had many classes I loved. And I learned so many things. But the standout moment from college, for me, was the time I got a perfect score in my JavaScript class.

So, context: Because of being on the ROV team and getting nerdier friends and stuff, I got really interested in the idea of coding, even though I had zero idea how it worked. And even though I was pursuing a degree in Media Studies, which was in the Journalism program at the University of Oregon, and didn’t have anything to do with coding. So when my adviser told me that I needed another math credit, but I could fulfill it by taking a coding class, I signed up to take a JavaScript class Winter Term.

Now, that Fall term had been pretty brutal for me, and Winter term was a continuation of that brutality. I did not remotely fit in at UO. There was this weird, cutthroat culture in my program.

And this Javascript class. On my bunnyslippers. I showed up, and the teacher kept using words that made no sense to me. Like he didn’t realize that he was using coder-talk that we hadn’t learned yet.

Then I went to my first lab, and I was supposed to set up all this stuff, and I just had no clue what was going on. So the guy next to me was trying to help me out, but I accidentally downloaded a virus and my computer went crazy and I started crying and he awkwardly patted my arm.

It was a mess. I posted all about it here.

However, once I started learning it, I got oddly hooked. For two reasons.

First, it was like doing math with words. This was much easier for my brain to grasp than math with only numbers.

Second, it was possible to get a perfect score.

Let me explain: Say my professor gave me an assignment to make a page where you click a button and it generates a random number. If I wrote the code wrong, when I opened it in my Internet browser, it would just show a blank page. So then I’d go back and try to figure out what I’d done wrong. If I spent enough time fixing all my mistakes, I would get to the point where it worked. And if it worked, I’d get 100% on that assignment.

Because of this, I got perfect scores on all my assignments. And I did all the extra credit assignments, just because they were there. And the tests were short, multiple-choice ones, and I was allowed to bring in a page of notes.

In short, I got the highest score it was possible to get in the class, including all the extra credit points possible. This was a great triumph for me, especially after being so helpless and lost and weepy at first.

8. Eating Hot Pot in China (December 2015)

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In December of 2015, my brother Ben and I were traveling to Thailand when we got stranded in China.

Not only were we stranded in China, but we were stranded in city that only got cold, like, once every three years. So our hotel had no heating. But we happened to be there on the day it snowed.

It was a bizarre sequence of events which you can read in full here. We were eventually able to communicate with my sister Amy, who gave me the phone number of her friend Felicia, who was a missionary in the city we were stranded in.

Felicia took a taxi to our hotel. We had several hours to kill before our shuttle left for the airport, but we told her we were cold and hungry. So she took us to get hot pot. Felicia, and me, and Ben, and the taxi driver, huddled in a little shop around a brazier full of hot coals. Eating delicious hot pot. Sipping barley tea.

The cold wind blew on our faces, through the open door.

I knew everything was going to be okay, after all.

That was a fantastic moment.

9. Seeing Howl’s Moving Castle, the Musical (December 2017)

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Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones, is a very special book to me. I found it in the library at Bridgewater College, read the first chapter, and was blown away by the sheer cleverness. Subsequently, Diana Wynne Jones became my favorite author. And that book, goodness. It takes me to a very fanciful, very beautiful place, every time I read it.

Also: I love theater, and am deeply moved by musicals.

So. I found out, thanks to a Diana Wynne Jones fan page on Facebook, that someone had created a Howl’s Moving Castle musical. And what’s more…this is what really blew me away…it was happening in Seattle. Seattle! Like, within-driving-distance Seattle!

Mom, Jenny, and Amy were all willing to come with me, which surprised and delighted me. We made a whole trip of it.

And the musical was just wonderful. It wasn’t like I expected. It wasn’t like a typical adaptation, it was like the book come to life. Seriously, it followed the book so closely, it was like watching a book the way you can listen to a (audio) book.

Only, there was music. Music!

That was a really good moment.

10. The 2019 Pioneer Christian Academy School Program (December 2019)

This wasn’t a big, flashy, epic moment like some of the others were. But one thing that’s been really special to me this decade is the way I’ve stumbled into writing and producing plays.

It started in the summer of 2017, when we started using a different Vacation Bible School curriculum at our church. I volunteered to direct the drama, thinking that the VBS kit came with one. But then my cousin Justin, who was in charge of VBS that year, said, “we didn’t think the curriculum was deep enough, so we thought we’d have Emily write a play based on the life of Paul. You can do that, right Emily?”

“Um, sure,” I said.

That fall I wrote another play, for the school Christmas program. And the next summer I wrote another VBS play. And the next fall I wrote another play for the school Christmas program. This has become a thing now.

However, I feel like each time I write and direct play it becomes a bigger and better production.

The school play I did this year was only 15 minutes long, but in many ways it was my biggest production yet. It for sure had my largest audience yet, for one thing. And the costumes and sets were more elaborate than anything I’d done previously. And there was a real backstage area. There’s something so official about having a real backstage area.

What a decade it’s been, come to think of it! But I’m ready for 2020.

See you next decade!

P.S. I realized, reading this over, that my college trajectory may be a bit confusing. I started out with a term at Bridgewater College in Virginia, then came back to Oregon and went to Linn Benton Community College. That’s where I was in a real play, and also where I was on the robotics team. After that I took a year off, which is when I went to NYC. Then I did two terms at the University of Oregon, where I did that JavaScript class. But I hated UO, so I transferred to Oregon State University, and graduated in 2017.

P.P.S. I started writing this in 2019, but now it’s 2020, so I guess my “see you next decade” joke doesn’t work anymore. Oh well.

P.P.P.S. I’m tired. Please ignore spelling mistakes, just this once. I want to go to bed.

Blogmas 2019 Day 12: Final Thoughts

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Today is Christmas Eve. I’m sitting in Max Porter’s coffee shop, with my sister Amy, working on my book. I’m not sure what she’s working on, but our laptops match, only mine is pink and hers is purple.

I ignore the Christmas music in the background, but maybe I shouldn’t. I am, after all, writing about Christmas. Last Christmas, while I was still traveling. But Christmas nonetheless.

Finishing that chapter, I pull my earbuds out of my ears. “What should I blog about, Amy?”

“Maybe you should give the Gospel message,” she says in a dreamy, over-dramatic voice.

“I know what you mean,” I sigh. “It feels like I should end this series with something very Spiritual and Deep. But I don’t know if I have any Spiritual, Deep thoughts about Christmas that haven’t already been said.”

But then I try to think of some anyway.

The song switches. “O Come O Come Emmanuel” begins to play.

As you may have noticed from earlier blog posts, I’m not a big fan of Christmas music. It’s not that I dislike it. I don’t mind it playing in the background for added festivity. But a lot of it is silly and doesn’t make sense.

However, I was struck this year by the song “O Come O Come Emmanuel.”

If I could write the final Blogmas post of my dreams, I would write about the season of Advent. I would write about the song “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” and the longing expressed therein.

I would write about how maybe the reason Christmas feels different when we grow older is that we are so much more aware, as Alison so eloquently put it, of the loss that is in this world. Of family members that have passed on. Or of children we wish we had, but don’t.

When we all gather together on Christmas Day, we’re aware of what our relationships with our family members should be like. And when we don’t have the relationship we want to have, we feel that loss.

This year I was determined that I was going to study Advent, and figure out what it was all about, and celebrate it. Because sometimes it feels like adulthood is about waiting. For a spouse. For children. For your career to take shape. For your relationships to be okay. And isn’t Advent all about learning to wait well? Waiting with hope, faith, and joy, and peace, and preparation?

So I did some Googling, and I learned some information. But honestly I still felt a bit lost. I didn’t start studying it until the first week of Advent, which was also the week of the school Christmas program, so I didn’t have a lot of extra time.

And this lack of study also means that now, when I wish to write on such topics, I don’t know what to say.

If you have books, articles, websites, etc related to Advent that you’d like to recommend, I’d be happy for some tips. Maybe with a year of study, instead of a week in intermittent Googling, I’ll know enough to do an Advent series next year instead of a 12 Days of Blogmas series.

As it stands, I don’t have the words to end this blog series the way I’d like to end it.

So I’ll just say, Merry Christmas everybody.

Emmanuel has come.

 

Blogmas 2019 Day 11: Countdown to Christmas

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26 days before Christmas

Jenny goes Black Friday shopping with her friends and comes home exhausted, with zero purchases. The rest of us stay home and feel lazy.

23 days before Christmas

It is Monday, the last week before the school Christmas program. I glue some streamers onto some Home Depot boxes to make hedges, as a prop for the play I wrote. I go to a thrift store and buy some brown children’s pants, a fuzzy woman’s jacket, and a felt gingerbread-man-making-kit, which I will somehow craft into a puppy costume.

Several students still don’t know their lines.

19 days before Christmas

It’s the day of the school Christmas program! In the morning, I find out that two of my actors are sick. I coerce two other actors, who are good last-minute-line-memorizes, to take their place.

An hour and a half before the program is to start, I find out that another student is sick. I give her two lines to another little girl who also had two lines. Congrats, now you have four lines!

The program goes off with very few hitches. The biggest hitch of all, in my opinion, was that not everyone could see the adorable first grader in his puppy costume. Because he was crawling, and the stage wasn’t very high, and there were lots of people there.

13 days before Christmas

We don’t do nearly as many Christmas parties in Oregon as they do in Delaware, but we do have one: Our young adult Sunday school class gets together to eat and play games.

There is no theme. No one wears ugly sweaters, and no one exchanges white elephant gifts, and we don’t play any silly party games where you have to shove balloons into pantyhose to make reindeer horns.

We literally just hang out and play normal games and eat amazing food and have interesting discussions, and it is spectacular.

10 days before Christmas

It is Sunday night. I get a text from the high school teacher. Can I substitute teach, starting Tuesday afternoon and continuing to the end of the week? He has a family emergency of sorts.

7 days before Christmas

It is a Wednesday morning, and I’m getting into the swing of this substitute teacher thing. The students have begun to prepare some fun party games, because on Friday, we will have a Christmas party.

Then the principal, Mr Chris, walks in. “We’re ending at noon today, and closing school down until after Christmas,” he says. “Too many people are sick.”

6 days before Christmas

The crowds of fun people have begun to arrive for the holidays. I have tea with my friends Shanea and Esta. Shanea presents us with exotic, delicious tea flavors from Malaysia. The three of us discuss the enneagram types of everyone we know.

4 days before Christmas

Mom, Amy, and I leave the house at 5:15 am. We go to the Gospel Echoes office and climb on the bus, where we encounter a number of other volunteers. We sit around, sipping tea and munching on coffee cake as we drive north to the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility.

We are here. We get buzzed through the doors. I take out my bobby pins when we go through the metal detector, because the ladies in front of me set it off, and now they have to get wanded.

First, we are at the minimum-security women’s prison. We unload boxes of cookies, and Christmas cards that were hand-colored by volunteers–mostly children. We set up in the cafeteria, and they file through. “Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!” we say. Shaking hands. Some of them smile. Some are stone-faced. Some cry.

As we’re wrapping up, preparing to go across the parking lot to the medium security section, we see that they’re setting up for another event. There are toys, and games.

And then the doors open, and the children come in.

“Mom! Mom!” this is their Christmas visit, with their children. We watch them hug, and cry, and laugh, and talk all over each other. We’re leaving now, but I can’t take my eyes off of them. What must that be like? It’s Christmas, and here they are, separated from their children except for this visit.

On the medium-security side, there are no children. At least, not today. We go through another metal detector, and then through doors, and doors, and more doors that slam behind us with a *click* or a *clank*! More women, in rows and rows. Hand them a Christmas card. Hand them a cookie. “Merry Christmas!”

My heart hurts. I’m sorry this is all I can give you.

2 days before Christmas

Matt is home, and it feels like Christmas now. We lounge around in our PJ’s and eat cookies. We talk weddings, and bitcoin, and Matt’s new job.

“Will you be working for NASA, or for a contractor?” I ask. “I’m confused.”

“Well, technically a contractor, but I’ll be working at the Johnson Space Center,” says Matt. “NASA can only hire so many employees, so they contract a lot of stuff out.”

“I say he’s working at NASA,” Mom says.

“That works,” says Matt.

Technically it is two days until Christmas, but the festivities will not end on December 25. There’ll still be the extended Smucker family Christmas gathering, and Matt and Phoebe’s engagement party. We’re celebrating Gotcha Day on December 29 this year instead of December 24, because Steven is still in Las Vegas. And then there will be the family Christmas, and the trip to the coast.

But I’m tired of blogging every day, so I’ll end this season of Blogging, the 12 Days of Blogmas, tomorrow, on Christmas Eve.

Blogmas 2019 Day 10: What To Do When It’s the Most Magical Time of the Year, but You’re Sick

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The least magical thing about the holidays is the way that we drop like flies as the flu rolls through.

When everyone else goes to the fun New Year’s Eve party, but you stay home in bed.

When you have an earache and a headache but you still have to go stand in the cold and take family pictures, because this is the only time all year that you’ll all be together.

When it’s three days before Christmas and you still haven’t gotten all your shopping done, but the idea of taking a shower, combing your hair, and braving traffic is more than you can handle.

This year I’ve been very healthy compared to the rest of my community, but I have spent many, many holidays of my life sick in bed and missing out on stuff. So here are my tips and tricks for surviving the terrible illnesses that plague this season.

First: Beware the finger foods!

I’m convinced that finger foods are the reason the holidays are so germ-filled. People come to holiday parties sniffing and sneezing, and we all stand around gabbing, or playing games, touching all sorts of germ ridden surfaces. And then we fill our plates with finger foods, and eat them, with our hands.

How much more unsanitary can you get?

After a really really really bad holiday season two years ago, I’ve become hyper-vigilant about finger foods during the holidays. I wash my hands immediately before I eat. I try to eat fewer of the sugary snacks, because sugar weakens the immune system. I never eat anything out of a communal chip bowl, unless there are tongs. And even then I wash my hands after touching the tongs, and before eating.

Actually, sometimes I just straight-up eat my snacks with a fork.

You can call me crazy, but hey, I’m the one who didn’t get Norovirus this year. I mean, maybe eating snacks with a fork is going too far, but making a habit out of always washing your hands and/or treating them to a squirt of hand sanitizer before eating finger foods will go a long way toward keeping you healthy during the holidays.

(Oh, and I guess I should also recommend getting the flu shot every year. I’m sure that helps, but it’s hard for me to really preach that one because I rarely get around to doing it myself. Oops.)

Second: If you’re sick over the holidays it’s okay to grieve 

Honestly, I’ve gotten to the place where I feel very resigned if I can’t do something special because I’m sick. “Oh well,” I think. “That’s just how the world works when you’re Emily Smucker.”

But I think maybe that’s the wrong approach. There are so many things that are special about the holidays, and if you miss out, I think it’s okay to grieve that loss. Healthy, even. Because if the holidays are special to you, and you don’t let yourself feel grief over that loss, it can turn into resentment or cynicism.

Third: Don’t be so hard on yourself

After grieving your loss, it’s time to let some things go.

It’s time to let go of the pressure to buy every acquaintance in your life a Christmas gift. You can buy them something next year.

It’s time to let go of your need to buy meaningful, unique, thoughtful gifts for your family members. Look at their wish list. Go on Amazon. Buy them exactly what they asked for. You can be more creative and thoughtful next year.

And for those who don’t have wish lists, buy them a gift card. Yep, you can be the lame-o gift card giver this year. It won’t kill you. And they will still appreciate it, I promise.

It’s okay to buy store-bought Christmas cookies. It’s okay to string a cheap garland over the window frame and call that “decorating.” The people around you don’t care about decorations and homemade cookies, they care about you taking care of yourself.

Fourth: Pamper Yourself

Stop! Don’t pig out on Christmas cookies. That’s a terrible idea. But do buy yourself cozy Christmas pajamas, and watch all the Christmas movies.

Oh, and here’s a tip: For Christmas, buy your friends and family members books that YOU want to read. Then, use your sick time to binge read them before you have to give them away.

Those are all the tips I have at the moment. How do you handle being sick over the holidays?

 

Blogmas 2019 Day 9: The End of the World (repost)

World's Funniest Jokes Humour | 2012... End of the World jokes and comics 

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Do you remember how, seven years ago today, the world was supposed to end (according to some ancient Mayan calendar?) Personally, I had completely forgotten until I went digging into my old December blog posts, looking for Christmas memories. Then I saw this post, and the memories came rushing back. Man, we told some great end-of-the-world jokes in 2012. 

But anyway, I was amused by this story, and decided to re-share. 

Initially I dreaded December 21, 2012, because I knew how crazy facebook was going to be, with everyone saying “well I’m not dead yet!” and feeling clever.

Later I realized that I’ve only ever met one person who legitimately thought the world would end in 2012. Since no one is really scared, I concluded that “World Ending Day” would make a great holiday. What if, once a year, people actually lived like it was their last day on earth? What would you do differently?

In reality, I would probably spend time with my family, but half my family is on the east coast and the other half was at school today and my mom was terribly sick and could hardly talk.

In theory, I would do something beautiful like drive to the ocean by myself and leap through the frigid December waves. I didn’t do that either. I spent the morning watching “The Princess Bride” in my PJ’s.

I thought that at least I could cook a big feast for my family. I’m not much of a cook, but we had a big ham left over from “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” and I thought if I cooked it up tonight we could live on ham sandwiches for the rest of the week and Mom wouldn’t have to cook.

She is, as I mentioned before, quite sick.

Mom also gave me a list of errands that she would really appreciate if I did, and then she coughed and hacked and of course there was no way I could possibly refuse to do those errands for her. I probably would have done them even if it was legitimately the last day of earth’s existence and we would have no use for worcestershire sauce and ramen noodles ever again.

Now, maybe this whole Mayan thing fooled more people than I realized, because traffic in town was a nightmare. I missed turns and only had 25 cents for the parking meter and nearly hit a yellow car and started to go across an intersection even though there was a person crossing and in general had a very bad time of it.

I needed to get home and make supper. I had left for town later than I should have, due to general laziness and the charms of The Princess Bride, and traffic, as I said, was terrible. I was afraid I wouldn’t have time to cook.

After a few wrong turns, I found myself on some random road, and I wasn’t sure if I was going north or south or east or west. I was so tired and frustrated I burst into tears.

Tears are a bad idea while driving. They make it harder to see where you’re going. However, I eventually found my way to the interstate, and of course from there I knew I could find my way home.

As my tears dried, I had a sudden thought.

IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD!!!

I laughed out loud.

Blogmas 2019 Day 8: Jenny and Emily Attempt to Make Santa Hats (A Video)

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Jenny and I ransacked the sewing room and attic for fabric, faux fur, cotton balls, yarn, and anything else we thought might be useful for making Santa hats. Then we sat down on Jenny’s bed and, with only our imaginations to guide us, tried to make Santa hats.

And we filmed the whole process.

Thanks for watching! We had so much fun making this.

In 2020, I hope to buy some video equipment and make even more videos. If you’re interested in subscribing to my YouTube channel, where they’ll all be uploaded, you can go to youtube.com/emilysmucker and click the red “subscribe” button. (But don’t worry, I’ll still share them on my blog too.)

 

Blogmas 2019 Day 7: Childhood Christmas Memories

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Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Today I’m googling “Blogmas post ideas,” because I spent all my blogging energy editing a video for tomorrow’s post.

Hmm…”Childhood Christmas memories” looks like a semi-promising idea. Let me recall a few Childhood Christmas memories.

Memory 1: The China Tea Set

When I was a kid I absolutely adored the book A Bargain for Francis. In it, Francis longs for “a china tea set with pictures all in blue.” And of course I longed for one too, after reading of her adventures.

One Christmas I opened my presents, and behold! There it was. A china tea set with pictures all in…well…blue and pink. But close enough.

I mean, it was a very cheap tea set, but I thought it was the best thing ever. I started having tea parties with my sister Amy. Mom would give us grape soda to put in the teapot, and I called it “purple mint tea.”

I think of myself as immune to product placement from internet influencers, but I’m totally susceptible to product placement in books. I wonder if that will become a thing. Or if it’s already a thing and I just don’t know about it.

Memory 2: The Christmas Play

When I was still young and cute, I was in the Christmas play at school. I don’t remember what it was about. I just recall that my character’s name was “Jessica,” and I had funny lines that made everyone laugh. “Clothespins anyone?” was one of them. Another was “is it raining?”

Then I grew into an awkward age where I was too young for the serious parts and too old for the cute parts. But I still wanted to be the star of the show. We were doing “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” and I was the first to volunteer to play Alice Wendleken, so I should have gotten the part. But instead, the person in charge (I don’t even remember who it was) gave the part to my cousin Jessi.

Instead, I was given this dumb role that had, like, two short lines or something. My character’s name was Maxine.

Well, I decided that I was going to rise above my circumstances. I was going to play Maxine to the best of my ability. Since she seemingly had no personality, I was going to create a personality for her.

I decided that Maxine would be a shy character, and I tried to say my lines in a shy way. Unfortunately, this also made me hard to hear. “Talk louder, Emily!” Sigh. How frustrating. They didn’t understand my true acting abilities. They didn’t understand that Maxine was supposed to be quiet and shy.

In adulthood, I’ve tried to milk a moral out of this story, but I can’t figure out how to do it. When I direct a drama, I want the actors to be content to make the most out of small roles. But I also want them to speak loudly.

Memory 3: My adorable brother

As a child I thought my brother Ben, who was three years younger than me, was the most adorable, hilarious human.

One December I saw him with a pair of my purple craft scissors, trying to wrap them up. He was giving them to me for Christmas, even though they already were mine. I thought it was the cutest funniest thing ever.

Another Christmas we got a box of gifts from Grandma, and one gift had developed a small hole in the wrapping. We all noticed the hole, and we all saw what appeared to be socks inside, but we were all too polite to mention it.

Then Ben said, “I know what this present is! It’s SOCKS!!!” And I thought it was the best “Emperor’s new clothes” moment ever.

Memory 4: Forcing Myself to Like Gifts

As a kid, I made up some weird Christmas rules for myself. Like, the worst thing ever, in my mind, would be to know what your present was before you unwrapped it. I did everything in my power to not know what I was getting until I pulled off the wrapping paper, and if I did find out earlier, I felt cheated. (That was part of the reason I refused to acknowledge that there were socks in the package in the previous story.)

Another Christmas rule was that I had to like my presents. No matter what I got, I forced myself to like it. If nothing else worked, I pretended that it was magic.

One year my brother Matt got me plastic African animal for Christmas. Little cheap ones. Normally, I was much more into girly presents like china tea sets. But I was determined to like this gift. I forced myself to play with those plastic animals all the time. I made them all into characters, and acted out stories with them. I told myself that African animals were much cooler to like than china tea sets. Because even though I liked girly things, all the characters in my favorite books were tomboys, so I wanted to be a tomboy too.

And what do you know, I liked that Christmas present after all.

This has been Day 7 of Blogmas. If you’re interested in reading a (fictional) Christmas story I wrote, click here. And come back tomorrow evening for what will be (in my opinion) the crowning jewel of this entire Blogmas series. That is, a fun video I did with my little sister Jenny.