The Origin of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, also known as “Turkey Day,” is a uniquely American holiday rich in cultural traditions.  The Thanksgiving holiday became an official federal holiday set by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 and approved by Congress in 1941.  Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Continue reading

Applied Mathematics LibGuide

Whether multiplying ingredients to make a party-sized batch of treats, or calculating compound interest, you will most likely encounter some sort of math challenge in life that takes a bit more than  in-your-head calculation to solve. We often do not realize how much math knowledge we have forgotten until faced with a special project or aptitude test. If you find the once-memorized equations from high school math are starting to get a bit fuzzy, it may be time for a quick refresher to sharpen those skills. Continue reading

Giving Thanks

Every year at Thanksgiving many begin their traditional meal by going around the table and asking everyone what they are thankful for this year. It’s a sweet little ritual and forces everyone to focus on what is positive in their lives. And then we eat. And nothing changes.

So lately I’ve been wondering what “giving thanks” really means. Most of us would say that it means volunteering and sending money to charities. But feeling gratitude is a instinctive and deeply personal experience. Most describe it as a warm sensation in their chest that brings happiness. So how do we give that?

All of us can probably name a family member or co-worker that we don’t get along with.  Maybe we are too much alike or we are exact opposites.  I am sure we can also think of an incident at a store, restaurant, or business where you felt that the other person was rude or treated you unfairly.  Have you ever taken a moment and thought about what that person may be going through?  Have you “walked a mile in their shoes?”

This reminded me of a blog post that I read in the Huff Post titled, “What Does ‘Giving Thanks’ Really Mean?”  After mentioning a similar incident about a mean person, the author of the article went on to discuss the following:

“Last month when the foliage was its most vibrant, I mentioned to a scientist patient of mine how the leaves, like many people, are more beautiful right before they die. He told me that the bright colors are always in those leaves and they are hidden by the green chlorophyll. And when the chlorophyll diminishes in the fall, the true colors emerge. But do we really have to wait until the autumn of our lives for these colors to emerge? I wondered if we really had to wait until the autumn of our lives? Of course not, there are things we can do to make that happen earlier.

So between my scientist and my cousin Donald I realized what “giving thanks” really means. It means looking in someone’s eyes until you can see their vibrant colors beneath the chlorophyll, beneath the mask or the bravado or the prickly personality.

Try it with someone you love. Then try it with someone you don’t think much about — the person that pumps your gas or checks you out at the grocery store. Even try it with someone you have antipathy for — look in their eyes until you can find the tender heart and the vibrant colors beyond their skin color or body shape or behavior.

Because once you find their humanity you will discover your own vibrant colors. And then you will care deeply. And then the world begins to change.”

So, this Thanksgiving season I hope you will find out what it really means to give thanks.



It’s Not Easy Being Green: America Recycles Day November 15th is America Recycles day! It takes place every year in the middle of November to highlight ways to recycle. It is much like earth day with a focus on how to reduce our carbon footprint.

Pinterest has so many ideas for what can be reduced, reused, and recycled. Also known as up-cycling, you can take many used products (like empty jam jars) and reuse them for other things. Being here on campus, it’s comforting to know that I can grab a bottle from the vending machine and will be able to dispose of it in a recycling bin. This is one of the ways that you can utilize the resources offered on campus. We also have fountains to refill your water bottles and recycling bins for paper when you no longer need old notebooks or papers. Continue reading

World Kindness Day

Have you ever gone through the drive-thru for your coffee and the barista tells you that the person in front of you paid for your coffee? Doesn’t that just make your day? And, as a result you decide to “pay it forward” by paying for the person’s coffee behind you. Well, this is just one kind gesture of how people celebrate World Kindness Day, which is happens to be today – November 13. Continue reading

Mango Languages Database

It may have been a long time since those high school language classes that you were required to take. You might not have even seen the value in learning a foreign language at the time, but the world is shrinking as people from many nations interact on social networks, on the college campus, through travel, in the business world, or just in everyday life. If you regret not taking it more seriously, have forgotten more than you remember, or the options were limited to just a few choices, you have a second chance to learn nearly any language you can think of, and probably a few you did not know existed. Continue reading

National Novel Writing Month

Who knew that it was National Novel Writing Month?  Certainly not this blogger.  However, as a writer, it is great to see that there are initiatives continuing to encourage writing.  This internet-based project, often shortened to “NaNoWriMo” takes place during the entire month of November.  Continue reading

The Origin of Halloween

From carving pumpkins to wearing costumes, Halloween is a unique holiday that has something for everyone.  This holiday originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, where people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.  In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as a time to honor all saints.  The evening of October 31st was known as All Hallows Eve and later Halloween.   When the colonists came to America in the 1800’s, Halloween was extremely limited because of the rigid Protestant belief system.

However, as the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups and the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge.  Colonial Halloween festivities included the telling of ghost stories, dancing and singing.  By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common.  In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with Irish immigrants in 1846 due to the potato famine.  The Irish helped to popularize Halloween with traditions such as trick-or-treating, and dressing in costumes.  Over time, Halloween has evolved into a community-based event with child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating, haunted houses or corn mazes, and pumpkin carving.    Americans today spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.

Be sure to stop in the Bellevue University Library to see our Halloween decorations and borrow one of the suggested titles below.  The Bellevue University Library is open Monday-Friday from 7:30am-10:30pm, Saturdays 8:00-5:00pm and Sundays from 10:00am-5:00pm.

The Devil’s Detective:  A Novel by Simon Unsworth PR6121.N795 D48 2015

Lamp Black, Wolf Grey by Paula Brackson PR6102 R325 L36 2015

The Silence of Ghosts by Jonathan Aycliffe PR6055.A82 S55 2015

The Shadow Land: A Novel by Elizabeth Kostova PS3611.O74927 S53 2017

Shirley Jackson:  A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin PS3519.A392 Z64 2016