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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hot potato

Context #1 

Two friends discussing personal problems

Jon: What’s up Aaron? What did you want to talk about? 
Aaron: I’m going to travel with my girlfriend to her home country, but it seems her parents don’t really want to meet me because I’m from a different culture.
Jon: Oh wow! It seems you have a hot potato in your hands. You will have to approach this issue with an open mind and try your best.
Aaron: I’ve been learning their language and cultural norms. I’m bringing a special gift for them too.
Jon: Remember that it’s a sensitive issue. Learn as you go. Hot potatoes are difficult to deal with.

Context #2 

Two co-workers discussing the holiday party

JuneI’m trying to promote the Christmas party to everyone at work.
Alex: That’s great! Just remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Just promote it as an inclusive Holiday Party. You want to avoid any hot potatoes at work.
June: Yes, you’re right. I just want everyone at work to enjoy a good time. It’s not necessarily about Christmas.
Alex: Yep. Include everyone in a friendly way and you can avoid any issues at work. Those things are always tricky.

Meaning: A hot potato means a controversial or difficult problem that can be difficult or risky to deal with. In the first context, they had to deal with relationship and cultural issues that can affect multi-cultural couples. In the second context, both friends discuss having a holiday party without leaving anyone out, or making it seem exclusive. Not an easy thing to consider at work.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A penny for your thoughts

Context #1 

Friends making a decision about where to take a trip

Natalie: I was thinking about the restaurants we should visit while in San Francisco. I have so many I want to go to. What about you? 
Robert: I don’t know what to say. Whatever is fine.
Natalie: Hey, we’re doing this together right? A penny for your thoughts, Rob.
Robert: Well, I heard they have good sushi there. I guess the sushi shop by the Ferry Building would be great.
Natalie: See, that wasn’t so painful, was it? Your opinion counts.

Context #2 

Teachers discussing next year’s school events

TomWhat do you think about taking students to the Ramen Festival in February?
Karley: I’m not from L.A., so please don’t ask. I really don’t know any place around here.
Tom: Oh, come on! I’m sure you’ve considered, at least, a place you want to visit. A penny for your thoughts, Karley.
Karley: Fine! I was thinking about this really nice restaurant in downtown with a great view of the city. Maybe after, we can all go to a museum.

Meaning: A penny for your thoughts is a comment you make when you want someone else’s opinion. Perhaps the person doesn’t want to contribute to ideas or is simply shy. It’s a way to motivate someone to participate. In both examples, the characters have to say it for their friend’s opinion to be expressed.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Snowed In

Context #1 

A college student is talking to his dad on the phone

Tommy: Hello, Dad? 
Dad: Tommy! It’s so good to hear from you! We heard that you got snowed in at the airport and we were worried about you. Is everything OK?
Tommy: Yes, I’m fine, but I’ve been snowed in here for about two days. I don’t know if I’ll be able to fly home for Christmas.
Dad: That’s OK. We are just happy you are safe.
Tommy: It’s strange being at the airport so long, but I think things should open up soon. I’ll keep you posted.

Context #2 

A little girl is asking her Mom about going to school

Sarah: Look at all that snow! It hasn’t stopped all day.
Mom: Yes, it looks like it is getting too deep.
Sarah: Do you think we will get snowed in? That would be so much fun!
Mom: What do you mean? It’s not fun to just stay home and not be able to go anywhere.
Sarah: It’s fun when you don’t have to go to school because you are snowed in!

Meaning: To be snowed in means to be trapped somewhere because of too much snow. In the first context, the college student is snowed in at the airport, so he is not able to fly home for Christmas. In the second context, the little girl is hoping to be snowed in so that she doesn’t have to go to school.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Comes But Once A Year


Context #1

Mother and Daughter are talking about her old toys

Melissa: Mommy, why are you wrapping those baby toys as Christmas presents? I’m much too big for those types of baby toys. I’m almost 8 years-old.
Mom: Well, Melissa, these presents are not for you. They are for needy families at Christmas who cannot afford to buy their babies toys and other Christmas presents.
Melissa: Really? Can I help you? I bet these toys will make those babies very happy!
Mom: Of course, you can help. Christmas comes but once a year, so we need to remember the less fortunate and do something to make their Christmas bright!

Context #2 

A children’s choir* is getting ready to sing in a hospital lobby

Choir Leader: OK, everyone, please stand together so that we can sing our first song, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Tabitha: I feel strange standing here in this hospital singing Christmas songs. Why are we here?
Samantha: And people might get mad at us for making noise!
Choir Leader: We are here in the hospital to cheer up the people who are not feeling well at Christmas time and cannot go home.
Tabitha: Oh, so they want to hear us?
Choir Leader: Of course! Christmas comes but once a year, so we should all do our best to be extra kind to people at Christmas. Your beautiful voices will cheer them up!

Explanation: The idea behind this saying is that since Christmas only happens once a year, we should treat it as a very special time by being extra good to others, especially children. Check out this 1936 cartoon with the title “Christmas Comes but Once a Year,” to see what “Professor Grampy” does to cheer up some sad orphans ** at Christmas. Click on the link below: Christmas Comes But Once a Year

*Choir: an organized group of singers (of all ages), typically one that takes part in church services or performs regularly in public.

**Orphan: Children who do not have a mother or father.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Wish Upon a Star

Context #1 

Mother and 4-year-old son are talking

Mom: Did you like the movie, Pinocchio?
Johnny: Yes, I did. I especially like Jiminy Cricket! He’s funny!
Mom: Well, I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Johnny: Mommy, you know that song that Jiminy Cricket sings in the movie? What does “wish upon a star” mean?
Mother: Well, when you look up in the sky at night and you see the first star, make a wish.  Then, your wish is supposed to come true. 
Johnny: So, when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true?
Mom: Well, let’s try it and find out!

Context #2 

A little girl is talking to her teacher at school

Samantha: I really wish that I get an A on this spelling test. It would make my grandpa so happy!
Teacher: Well, Samantha, you are 5 years old now and a big girl. If you studied, you will do just fine. Don’t worry.
Samantha: Do you know what I did last night?
Teacher: What?
Teacher: I decided to wish upon a star, the first star I saw, to be sure that I would get an A!

Meaning: To wish upon a star often refers to making a wish after seeing the first star in the sky at night. Many children believe that if you wish upon a star, your wish will come true.

"When You Wish upon a Star" is a song written for Walt Disney’s 1940 adaption of Pinocchio. The original version was sung by Cliff Edwards in the character of Jiminy Cricket. The song has since become the representative song of The Walt Disney Company.  It is also popular at Christmas time. Check out Jiminy Cricket performing this song in the film Pinocchio. See the link below: When You Wish Upon a Star

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Pull Christmas Crackers

Context #1 

Family sitting down for Christmas dinner

Dad: OK everyone. Let’s sit down to eat Christmas dinner!
Jason: Dad, can we pull the Christmas crackers now?
Dad: Sure, Jason! Go ahead.
Jason: Pulling Christmas cracker with his sister and it makes a “bang.”
Mother: Oh, look at those cute little toys. OK, Jason, now let your sister pull a Christmas cracker to see what she gets!

Context #2 

Two friends planning a Christmas party

Sami:  You know what? I have another idea for our Christmas party this year. Let’s have Christmas crackers!
Petra: What? I don’t know what that is.
Sami: Well, in Britain and some other English-speaking countries, people “pull Christmas crackers” during parties. The Christmas crackers contain little trinkets, toys, or even jokes on small pieces of paper.
Petra: That sounds interesting! Let’s do it.

Meaning: A Christmas Cracker is a cardboard paper tube, of brightly colored paper and twisted at both ends. They are usually given during Christmas dinner or at Christmas parties. They make a noise when pulled apart by two people and contain small presents like toys, trinkets, or even jokes on pieces of paper. Christmas crackers are part of Christmas celebrations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. Christmas crackers are not very common in the United States. 

Check out this video of people pulling Christmas cracker!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

To look on the bright side

Context #1:

Amy: We need to save money.
Brian: Why do we need to save money?
Amy: Because we need to buy a house.
Brian: But a house is so expensive.
Amy: That's why we need to save money.
Brian: How much do we need to save?
Amy: We need to save enough for a down payment.
Brian: How much is that?
Amy: That's about $30,000.
Brian: Thirty thousand dollars! That will take forever.
Amy: Not if we save every penny. Besides that, look on the bright side! We're going to buy a very nice house!
Brian: Okay, okay. Here's seven pennies.

Context #2

Maura: I don’t know what to do.
Robin: What’s the matter?
Maura: Well, I’ve been looking for a job for months everyday. I send my resume, but I just can’t get a job. I think I’m going to be unemployed all summer.
Robin: Hey, hey, hey, look on the bright side. At least while you’re not in the office, you can sit outside and enjoy that beautiful weather.
Maura: You’re right. The weather has been nice lately.

Meaning:This is an expression that means "Think positively." People use this expression when they're talking to someone who's having a problem. After saying "Look on the bright side", the speaker then says something good that the person who's having the problem can be happy about. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas came early

Context #1
"Christmas came early for Disney. Their latest film 'The Jungle Book', starring Neel Sethi, made $27 million dollars in its opening weekend."
When a happy surprise arrives before Christmas, like a hot new date, awesome gift or magical experience.

Context #2

Ralph: Oh, man! It's only 10:00 am and that loaf I dropped felt like fire!
Ted: Sounds like Christmas came early.

The expression "Christmas came early" originated in northern New Mexico. In this case, "Christmas" refers to the unique combination of both red chilli and green chilli on your breakfast burrito. The fiery blend has a unique chemical reaction that results in premature bowel movements that are tainted with the fire of the chile. Thus, when one has an excretion after consuming a Christmas breakfast burrito, Christmas is said to have come early.