In the midst of a very stressful time at school, I’ve received some very unexpected, very excellent gifts. I will tell you about them. Maybe they will inspire you to give good gifts. To me.

First was the gift of a very special Christmas care package from my family, including much wonderful Christmas baking. Rachel made me a Christmas CD (because I forgot all of mine at home) and there were Christmas lights! We wrapped them around a post. Oh Christmas post, oh Christmas post, how lovely are your corners… My roommates gathered round as I pulled one delightful thing after another out of that box. Then one of them called her mother and guilted her into sending her a Christmas care package too. Tis the season for guilt.

Second was the gift of… wait for it… SNOW! You can’t even imagine how my heart leapt when I saw that snow Tuesday morning. I practically danced to the bus stop. I was prepared for a snow-less December, and then, lo and behold, it arrived! And it’s snowing again today! It is funny to see the Vancouverians dealing with it. Many of them try to use their umbrellas to protect themselves from it. My bus ride Tuesday morning included exiting the bus with about 20 other passengers, pushing the bus, and re-boarding it with a standing ovation from the rest of the people on the bus. It was great fun. Their snowploughs are the size of golf carts. How cute. The highlight for me, though, was a huge snowball fight over lunch, with about 50 Regent students participating.

Gift number three… last night. Last night was the Regent Christmas party. My friends Tora and Julia (of chili and beer night fame) planned the whole event. Tora is an ambitious music grad who transformed about twenty of us students into a chamber choir. We even sang one song in German with 6 different parts. It was incredible. I got to play piano for the carols, along with a violin, flute and French horn. Played by other people. The Gospel Choir also made its inaugural performance, with great crowd response. It was an excellent Christmasy night.

Final gift . . . This morning, a new friend of mine at Kitsilano church gave me a casserole. She heard I was busy and thought I wouldn’t have much time to cook good food. Isn’t that thoughtful? I almost started crying. What she didn’t know is that I don’t cook very good food even when I do have time.

And still in the category of the unexpected, but not really a gift… I found out an hour ago that my roommate, Eugenie, got married two days ago on the beach outside our house. Well, former roommate, I suppose. I didn’t know she was engaged. I didn’t even know she had a boyfriend. What a surprise! Congrats, Eugenie.

In other unexpected news, we have a new tenant. Melba. The Mouse. Perhaps she is replacing Eugenie. I’m not sure. At any rate, she’s not paying, and I want her out. My other roommate, Bryanna, decided to verify her presence by leaving out a small piece of paper with peanut butter on it. Apparently mice like peanut butter, and leave their tracks in it. Melba likes peanut butter. In the morning, the entire piece of paper was gone. Bryanna has now turned her attention to the business of inventing traps. Here she is with one of her milk-carton-toilet-paper-roll creations. So far, no Melba. But on the bright side, the whole situation did force me to clean my room.

So I’m going to be caught in a deluge of reading and studying from now almost until I leave for home. I have one paper left to write, and I will be writing four exams in two days, on the 14th and 15th (prayers welcome). I promise to update next Sunday, though. Thank you to all of the gift givers, and to everyone else who’s called and e-mailed to encourage me lately. Have a great week!