Holiday Preparations, An Email Digression, A Call for Assvice

Oh y’all. It is finals week here, which means that things are simultaneously wonderful and horrible. I am so, so close to being done and to starting my holiday break, and yet I am still so, so far from that.

[333/366] Wine Glass

I’ve created the final exams for two of my three courses, but I still need to write one more. Once I give the exams, I’ll have 140 of them to grade before determining final semester averages and such. It is a lot left to do, and yet it isn’t. The only really stressful factor is dealing with the steady stream of emails from students who are fretting about the exam and/or worried about their other grades — as is only natural, of course.

A little digression, if you don’t mind: Email existed when I was an undergrad (ca. 1996-2000), but back then most of my professors didn’t use it. I had an account I accessed via VMS (anyone remember VMS?), used mainly to write to my friends at faraway schools and my boyfriend back in my hometown. I did not ever email my professors. I often wonder what I would have been like as a student if email use had been more widespread on my campus back then. Would it have replaced the regular sit-down meetings I had with my adviser every semester, when I had to get his signature on my registration card before I would be allowed to stand in the hours-long queue and wait, hoping to get into my desired classes? Would I have developed the same close relationships with my professors over email exchanges as I did by sitting down with them in their offices — and occasionally smoking cigarettes with them (!)? I don’t know; what was it like when you were in school?

At any rate, there’s no use longing for the old days. I’ve got emails to answer and that’s just how it is.

Extra Branches

On another note, this time next week, I will be done with fall semester and ready to sit on my duff until early 2013. Ahh, I can hardly wait! I have been working so hard this semester, and it’s all been good (interesting, challenging, both new and familiar) work, but I’m ready for time off. Winter break is my favorite time of year. I love the holiday season; winter weather is my favorite; everything about it is tops!

I’ve already put the holidays in action in my place. I love white lights and snowflakes and I love to have a tree. Here’s what I’ve got going at the moment:

Snowflake Garland
Snowflake Garland
Falling Flakes.Tree
Another Ornament Self-Portrait

Now, once I get through finals week, I’ll really be able to soak it up. Flannel fir tree pajama pants, flannel snowflake sheets (a dangerous flannel-on-flannel combo at times), Silk nog spiked with bourbon, holiday treats, Christmas movies, Pandora’s Jazzy Holiday station (try it!). I’ve also got my birthday to look forward to (the big 3-5) and a trip up to Iowa to enjoy some cold weather and hopefully some snow and, oh yeah, also to meet my boyfriend’s parents. ‘Twill be fabulous. As long as I can avoid making a fool of myself.

Really, though: any tips? Etiquette tips? Like for when you’re going to be staying with your significant other’s family for a week at Christmas time and you’ve never met them before? I welcome your assvice people, and that is a rare occasion, as I do not normally suffer assvice kindly. Hit me.


  1. My sister in law was at my house for Christmas last year, and just ahead of her arrival (I think the day before or the day she arrived) she had sent a lovely centerpiece type thing … hang on, let me get a representative link… ok, something like the stuff on this page:

    a small flower/candle centerpiece situation. I remember thinking it was a lovely and classy thing to do; acknowledgement that I was hosting a lot of meals and it was nice to have a pretty centerpiece that I didn’t have to think about. SO! If you are anticipating the parents doing a big holiday dinner of some kind, that might be a nice gesture. Also, she had emailed me beforehand with a suggestion of a meal she could cook (she’s from Texas, wanted to make fajitas one night), and that was great b/c it was one less thing I had to do, and I appreciated that she planned, provisioned and cooked one of the meals that week.

    As far as “how to not make a full out of yourself”, well. I’ve got nothing. But you are a lovely person and there is no reason to think that they will not love you as much as their son does, so.


    1. Thanks, these are some good ideas! I think he and I are going to plan and cook dinner one night while we are there, and I am going to TRY out a couple of candy recipes at home and, if they turn out, bring some boxes of candy for the family when we go up. The centerpiece is a good idea, too. Hmm.


  2. The centerpiece idea is very cool. A thank you note after. My last time, I just remember being a slightly more “on” version of myself (not quite job interview level). Knowing that they want to impress you too makes it a little less intimidating. Have fun!


    1. Yes, must NOT forget the thank-you note! I’m also laughing a bit about the “not quite job interview level” — good thing, because being at that level for a week might, well, level me.


  3. When I was in college (1999-2003), we had email but I only recall using it if I had to miss class. I recall submitting a paper via email due to missing a class once. If I had grade or study related questions then I always hit up office hours.


    1. Yeah, I had started grad school in 2000 and over the next couple of years I remember email getting A LOT more commonly used at school….and that’s around the same time I got my first cell phone (a brick-like Nokia, oh man). It seems like right around those years everything changed really fast. But maybe that’s just my perception, I don’t know.


  4. Not quite the same thing, but I’m going to visit a friend for a week and I’m getting flowers. I didn’t find anything I liked on the commercial flower sites, so the day I get there I’m heading to Whole Foods or a local florist to get something unique (but not pretentious). I already Google Mapped them, and the WF is 2.2mi from their house. Like Liz said, I’m also going to cook one day I’m there. Bringing some regional items with me and making gumbo, a nice winter dish.

    As for school, as an adult student, I ‘know’ each of my professors and their office hours. They do actually prefer email and often reply promptly. If I have material related questions, or trouble with a concept, I go to the office. If I have random questions about assignment criteria or dates, I email.

    As an undergrad in 2000, I did not go to their offices that often. I was scared, intimidated at a University with 45k students. Back then, I think I would have enjoyed the email. When I got into my major, and the classes got really small, then I knew my professors more personally. I didn’t really contribute much there, but as a student again, I see the pros and cons, but make it a point to not use it exclusively. However, for a young student, it might be the only way they can reach out?

    GOOD LUCK, have fun.


    1. Thanks, Haley! That’s a good idea with the flowers. Maybe, because it’s Christmas, I could pick up a poinsettia or something… I’m pretty sure there won’t be a WF nearby, though (we’ll be in the middle of a rural farming area), but I bet I could find something.


  5. I love Liz’s thought on offering to cook one night, and I actually have additional thoughts on this. Make sure your boyfriend has let them know about dietary restrictions (and also that you’re totally willing to help out with making some dishes, assuming you are) — there’s nothing more awkward than having a dinner all prepared and realizing you can’t eat it but it’s too late and you’re going to come off as rude and oh my god I’m sweating just thinking about it. So, yeah. Advance notice.

    Otherwise, for me, I always just try to make a point of keeping all my shit in order — I do my best not to leave shoes or sweaters or water glasses or anything laying around. I’m sure this is common sense but for me, it is not easy.

    And, last thing, maybe come up with a few topics ahead of time that you know you guys can discuss, which might involve quizzing the bf a little. Do you know anything about their musical taste? TV? Places they’ve traveled? I had some great discussions with J’s parents by asking them about how they met and all that — they opened up with some of the stories a bit more than they had with him when he was younger, and he’d never asked them more about it because, you know, he knew the story already.


    1. Yeah, he has already let them know about the vegetarian thing, so I think that should be all good. And that is SUCH a good reminder about just keeping my stuff in order. I like to try to minimize my impact when I am staying with people and not be that person who somehow has like four water glasses lying around the house, half full. (I do that at home with the water glasses and I drive MYSELF crazy.) And now I shall start making mental notes of all the things I might want to talk about with them….


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