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Deck the Halls

Each UWC staff member briskly walked down the stairs into the dark basement and threw the door open to see what was inside. The smell of taco seasoning, beans, meat, and cheese filled the air. It was finally time for Christmas decorating in the UWC. If you haven’t visited our room during Christmastime (or anytime for that matter), you are really missing out. We compete each year with other offices on campus for the best decorations, so we take it very seriously. 

This past year, one of our talented staff members created an Elf-themed room. It might not be easy to make dreams become a reality, but we were determined. One night, as per tradition, we entered our normal room and envisioned a new mystical world. Before jumping into all of the tasks, we took time to socialize and catch up with each other since we had just returned from a long Thanksgiving weekend. We ate some delicious taco soup and desserts to begin the festivities. In full disclosure, I ate approximately three bowls of taco soup with sour cream and cheese, but who is counting? Everyone, probably.

Anyways, everything was going extremely well until the clock struck midnight. I promise it really wasn’t midnight, but it sounded dramatic. As we started to place different decorations throughout the room, I decided it would be a great idea to clear off one of our director’s bookshelves to place new decorations in that spot. Jordan, the lead decorating coordinator, hesitated when I told her my plan and tried to stop me, but it was too late. As soon as I removed the first six books from the top shelf, the top tier collapsed. With my cat-like reflexes, I was able to grab a few of the toppling books. Unfortunately, a few was not enough. With the weight of the other books from the first tier, the second layer decided it was time for it to give way.

Hearing the commotion, my thoughtful co-workers rushed to my aid. The room was filled with shrieks due to the ever-collapsing shelves. Trying to prevent the last shelf from collapsing, Deneen decided to sit on the ground and help collect some of the books I was trying to grasp. Again, it was too late. More books started to crash to the floor, and Kenean came rushing over. She quickly tried to sweep the rubble off Deneen and me. In those moments, it felt as if we were in a movie with the walls coming down upon us, and all we could do was revel at the situation. The laughter grew louder as none of us knew what to do next. I wanted to book it out of there, but I was stuck. Pun intended. 

“I think I broke all of my toes and both of my feet!” I screeched. Some say that I can be overdramatic. I agree. My cry for help was simply acknowledged with more laughter. As soon as we thought the books were finished toppling down, a few more fell to ensure my foot was indeed broken. In the midst of chaos, none of us could not stop laughing. In fact, we were laughing so hard that you could hear a few snorts. Okay, you are right, that was probably me too.

In these chaotic moments, it became apparent how close the UWC staff was and is. Not only does this story illustrate each of our personalities, it shows how much we care for each other and how quickly we run to each other in need. Whether it is a crumbling bookshelf or a chaotic personal situation, we are there for each other. In the midst of the current situation, we have banded together in prayer, encouragement, and genuine care. Because of the way this defines our office, this memory immediately became my favorite. When we say that we are family, I hope this points to the truth behind that statement. I could never imagine my life without my colleagues, past and present. Never take a moment for granted because it might just become your favorite memory.

Written by Trisha

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Christmas Doesn’t Come From a Store

‘Twas the eve before Christmas

And all through our dwelling

The thrill of the season

Was growing and swelling

The lights were all shining

The presents were wrapped

And I and my sister

Peacefully napped

For in a few hours

We’d pack up our stuff

And head to my grandma’s

All bundled and muffed

On the short drive

Our excitement was mounting

For soon we’d eat food

Open presents, and do gifting

Nana met us with cheer

As she opened the door

And Papa placed parcels

By the tree on the floor

First we trooped to the table

To gobble and dine

On luscious food

Of most every kind

Then we all gathered

In the room by the fire

All bundled and snuggled

For the rest to transpire

My dad read the story

Of that first Christmas day

We listened intently

Then he asked us to pray

After the reading

Sister and I took the floor

To present our creation

That had been quite a chore

Clad in Dad’s shorts and oversized shoes

We enacted “Papa’s Adventures”

The tales of our grandpa

And his hilarious misadventures

The family all laughed

And poked fun in jest

We all were so happy

And we felt very blessed

Next was gift time

And I was oh so excited

We all gathered ‘round

The tree that was lighted

Presents were opened

And scattered around

The paper piled up

‘Til we couldn’t see the ground

We played with our toys

Until late into night

When our eyes grew heavy

And we fought sleep with great might

Then we packed up our car

And made the trek back

Each with our gifts

All stuffed in our sack

But it wasn’t the presents

That made that year good

It was the time with my family

And the joy of childhood

It’s been many years

Since that one special day

But it’s forever in my heart

And there it will stay

 

Written by Taylor Hayden

Merry Christmas from the DBU Writing Center!

A Bedtime Story: How the UWC Came to Be StanNation

Once upon a time, there was a colorful, crowded room deep in the underground of a university learning center. It was often noisy in that place: people strolled by the door chatting and laughing loudly, the elevator ran up and down between the floors with clanking and groaning and wheezing, snack and drink machines constantly clinked and whooshed, and sometimes the Scantron machine sounded like a machine gun in this hidden place buried in the cavernous basement often referred to as “the dungeon.” Those who worked in this windowless room were definitely the best of best; these workers were chosen for their love of reading and writing, and they all carried GPAs which proved their attachment to things academic. These fine folk, however, had a competitive spirit. And they loved all things Christmas because it not only designated their Savior’s birth, it also gave them an opportunity to plan and scheme and keep secrets. The story of StanNation actually begins with those very traits: a love of Christmas, planning, scheming, and keeping secrets.

At the time of this strange christening, there was a Student Coordinator named Carrie, who was something of a legend. Her name was known far and wide as the APA expert, and she coached minions in the intricacies of that format. She also had the chutzpah to consult with her boss on the tone and direction of that ogre’s papers. Nevertheless, she smiled more and was kinder than anyone who had ever graced the dungeon before. But she carried an evil secret deep within her heart: Carrie was miffed, angry, outraged even that her office had worked crazily every single year and had yet to win the annual Christmas decorating contest. Never mind that they enjoyed the effort. Put aside how much they relished the outcome. To heck with the acclamations they received from visitors. She wanted the coveted prize: a pizza party. And she would have it! She would.

That fateful Friday afternoon 29 October 2010, at 4:55 p.m. sharp, she sent out the missive:

 

TOP SECRET!!!

Hello, comrades. …  Here in the UWC, we love Christmas. We have put forth a valiant decorating effort every year, receiving an honorable mention twice. But this year… we are going for number ONE. That’s right. We will join the ranks of Babe Ruth, Michael Phelps, and George Washington.

Here’s the plan, Stan… (PS… everyone’s code name is Stan when talking about this project)

We are going to make a gingerbread village. We have plans. BIG plans. … We will come sneak into the UWC and build. If we build it, they will come. The judges, that is. And they will be blown away by our mad skills and lovely tastes in decoration. Oh, and we will offer them gingerbread men to eat. (Bribing works wonders.) SO… come join us in decorating/dominating. …

Yours truly,

Stan

 

From that day forward, all the staff was known as Stan. In fact, one follow-up email was quite funny. See for yourself:

 

Christmas decorating, which shall henceforth be referred to as “quilt-making” for the purpose of secrecy, shall commence at 4 pm this Sunday. Be there.

Stan’s father will be coming to help with construction of our “quilt-making.” There will be hammers, staple-guns, and other cool power tools, so you guys will have fun. Girls too. I like power tools. But I REALLY like gingerbread and candy.

I get goose bumps when I think about how awesome our dungeon is going to look.

Have a great Thanksgiving! See you on Sunday for the quilt-making. Oh, we’re going to dinner afterwards too. We can just call dinner “dinner.” I don’t think we have to be too secretive about that. I mean, every office probably eats dinner, whether individually or collectively. Let me know if you hear of any breach of security, though, and we can adapt as needed.

Yours truly,

Stan.

PS- This is not Truett. This is Stan. My computer has momentarily been commandeered by Stan, so I commandeered Truett’s (oh, I mean Stan’s) computer.

 

Clearly confusion ensued. Still, decorating commenced, continued, and indeed, was quite successful. Or so they thought.

Sadly, the Stans still did not win the 2010 Christmas decorating contest. The staff was perturbed that the winners dominated by bringing forth Jerusalem with live animals and a newborn baby. They were sorely disappointed when they went to see the winning office, and there was nothing left but an empty manger, straw on the floor, and a construction-paper Jerusalem on the walls. Yet, they were gracious, congratulating the winners warmly even as they vowed to win next year.

Woefully, 2011 brought them only second place. They vowed that 2012 would be their year. They would surely win. But perhaps the fly in the ointment was the fact that each and every team member was called Stan. Nobody knew who was who. And that, my friends, was a problem. They bumbled around: everybody answering or nobody answering queries and responding to suggestions. It was like the fifteen stooges were in the office as they attempted to plan and decorate. Once more, other offices attained the coveted prize. And the UWC staff declared that somehow, the Stans would find a way to communicate and win.

To that end, Carrie instructed each Stan adapt his or her name by adding Stan to a portion of his or her given moniker: she became HamilStan. Others became Briggstan, VannaStan, Stanlee, Stanison, and so forth until all were individuals again.  Still, it was another year before the UWC grabbed the treasure they so craved. In 2013, they celebrated with the grand reward: a pizza party. They laughed, they high-fived, they ate, they drank, they made very merry. And they won again in 2015! Hooray for knowing who is who when decorating is under way.

That, my friends, is the legacy of Carrie. All UWC staff will henceforth be known as Stan, and the tiny, bright nation in the dark cavern will forever be StanNation.

The end.

Written by Ka

Image credit: Ka Riley