Category Archives: Christmas

December: Melissa

**ATTENTION OCD READERS: Please have your ritualized hand-sanitizer comforts nearby, because you are about to read a December report in the middle of our February runs. I realize this is out of order, but to be fair, Melissa deserves her post. Also, these sort of things don’t bother me very much and I make the rules. (Well, these rules.)  So take a deep breath and pretend it is December…**

This is her second report, but to say Melissa gives “reports” is such a mundane, inadequate word for what she does.  Melissa’s reports are more like performance art.  Our very first Report Night she came and gave a dramatic lesson on giant squid.

From the squid’s perspective.

With the light’s out.

With a flashlight under her chin.

Frankly, everyone needs a little Melissa-flair in their lives.  But enough about squid!  Melissa began her report…in the bathroom.  We were not with her.  So across the distance of the White’s foyer (seriously, they have a foyer), we saw the light shining from the open doorway of the bathroom that kept Melissa out of view.  “YOU ALL ARE PROBABLY WONDERING WHY I’M BEGINNING MY REPORT FROM THE BATHROOM,” she yelled.  “AT OUR HOUSE WE HAVE A CHRISTMAS TRADITION OF PLAYING GAMES AND EATING FOOD ALL DAY LONG.  CONSEQUENTLY, WE ALSO SPEND MUCH OF OUR TIME IN HERE, AS WELL: THE BATHROOM.”  Then Melissa returned to the living room wearing a tweed jacket, a pair of glasses, and a British accent.  The bathroom had transformed her into Thomas Crapper, the supposed inventor of the toilet.

We learned soon enough, however, that Thomas Crapper really did not invent the toilet, he merely made it popular.   We also learned that the word “crap” is not a derivative of the name Crapper, but instead from the Dutch word “krappe.”  I am a fan of giving credit where credit is due (see our “Welcome!” tab), so for a comprehensive look at who deserves credit for inventing our modern and convenient flush-toilet, take a look at this.  Better yet, copy and paste the entry so you can print it and read it on your next friendly visit to the commode. 

*Next time we hear from Melissa, it will be on her white elephant topic “The Worst of 2009.”


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Filed under Biographical, Christmas, History, When things get crazy

December: Lariate

This was (very pregnant) Lariate’s second report, and I now have a new appreciation for the Christmas carol O Holy Night.  We learned the origins of the song began with a French poem entitled “Midnight Christians” which Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight later paired with music in 1855.  However it wasn’t until 1906 that a Canadian inventor played the tune on an AM radio program with his violin, making the song the popular carol it remains today.  Lariate also shared the most popular renditions of the tune, with Celine Dion’s rating number one.  (Apparently so many famous musicians have covered O Holy Night that she gave up keeping track!)  Set to power point and including a video clip of David Archuleta, Lariate may have been the only person who kept her report to five minutes.  (Amazing.) 

Our family drove to spend Christmas in my in-law’s cabin up north.  When the kids and Mike were busy in the back of the van, I drove and sang O Holy Night over and over, eventually just speaking the lyrics and reflecting on every word.  Report Night is such a gift in that way.  Thanks Lariate!

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Filed under Christmas, History, Music

December: John & Tonya

These two never disappoint with their reports, and this month they rolled their five-minute holiday topic into one ten-minute report.  (Smart, no?)  Armed with power point and a rhyming poem entitled “Twas the Night Before Report Night,” John & Tonya hilariously took us through their topical brainstorm.  The result was a smattering of many interesting topics.

We learned that Puerto Rico celebrates Christmas with Asalto–which is the Spanish word for assault. Sound merry yet?  It is.  Imagine this: instrument-toting parade and party goers show up at your house unannounced, you invite them in and serve them food and drinks, and then you travel with them to go to the next person’s house–all night long. (I told you it was merry.)  In Scandinavia they start partying at 3pm with a drink called aquavit, said to raise the dead.

But cross-cultural Christmas celebrations were only the beginning.  They also elaborated on the following:

-special Christmas brews from the Annual Belgium Festival, such as Very Bad Elf Special Reserve Ail from a 1795 recipe

-liberal reasons not to celebrate Christmas, such as supporting China’s economy  and the environmental impact of chopping down countless Christmas trees

-top-selling toys from the last century, from iTouch in 2007 to Cabbage Patch Kids in 1983 to the Duncan Yo-Yo in 1929

-The Annual North Pole Ice Sculpture Contest

They ended with a fun video clip from Straight No Chaser:

*John’s white elephant topic is Mike–as in, the Mike who reported on the Star Wars Holiday Special.

*Tonya’s topic for January will be (if I remember correctly) the history of contact lenses.  (Please correct me on a comment if I’m wrong about that.)

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Filed under Art, Christmas, Culture, Pop-culture

Christmas Report Night

Before we get into the specifics, rules changed on Saturday in keeping with the Christmas spirit.  Everyone brought a Christmas goodie to share, had a holiday-themed report topic, and exchanged topics written on pieces of paper for a White Elephant gift.  After the topic exchange, we all twisted our metaphorical mustaches and assigned topics to four regular reporters who weren’t in attendance.  Next month we will look forward to hearing the properly researched products of the following (in addition to everyone else):

Tracey: The History of Nike

Tommy: Hidden Messages in Nintendo Games

Savannah: Never-nudes and Other Clothing Phobias

Ross: Manmilk: Mammary Glands in Male Mammals

(Needless to say, much giggling ensued over Ross’s topic.)

Without further ado….the topics!


Filed under Christmas, When things get crazy