Ask Natalie: Christmas crises

“Dear Natalie,

This is my first semester at university and I have to admit, I got a little wild in the new-found freedom. I drank a lot, skipped class a lot and generally acted like a prick. But now it’s the end of the term and I know my grades are way shitter than I thought they would be (at least one class failed) and I know my parents are going to be way less than thrilled at the marks I’m bringing home. They are the type of parents who really care about grades and if you get into co-op or do an internship or whatever. What should I do?”

You can drink and party and do all that fun stuff without letting your grades suffer. I mean, sure, it’s harder since you’re just testing the waters in the lake of adulthood. So far all you’ve had is the good and now you’re being overwhelmed by the bad. It’s a balancing act and it’s one everyone needs to work out.

Be honest with your parents. Tell them you messed up and you know it and tell them what you’ll do to improve. However, I would suggest avoiding something along the lines of “I’m only going to drink five times a week and I swear, from now, on I’ll only skip four classes a week!” Parents like to forget what university was like for them.

Don’t try to hide it from them. Your parents are going to be pissed, but that doesn’t mean you should pretend it didn’t happen. It did. It’s a lot easier to explain why you can’t apply for co-op, Go Global or whatever yet when you’re not hiding your average. It’s a lot easier to get support when you’re being honest.

The first few months in university can be really hard for some people. I know people who were looking at transferring out by their second week. I know people who went home for Thanksgiving and never came back. I know people who spent finals in tears. It’s a stressful time for a lot of people, but you shouldn’t take these last few months as a representation of the next four to five years of your life, because it’s not. Just because you spent a few months in a drunken haze doesn’t mean you’re going to flunk out of school. You’ll hit your stride and it will be fine.


“Natalie, what do I get my mom for Christmas?”

Surprisingly, moms (and dads!) are people too. Like everyone else, they like different things.

I can’t tell you what to get your mom because what your mom might love, mine might hate, but here are some ideas:

  • A book from her favourite author
  • A bath bomb or mini spa product
  • A gift certificate to a local niche shop
  • All of the wine
  • An awesome-smelling candle
  • Body lotion (I’m pretty sure my mom has enough body lotion for years from what I got her in high school)
  • A cheese-making kit
  • Tickets to her favourite show, play or whatever
  • The son/daughter she always wanted

It is the season for giving and, in my humble opinion, giving is the best part of this commercialized season. I love celebrating Christmas with my family and showing them a physical representation of how much I love them! It’s not about the gift, it’s about your love — as corny as that sounds.

Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or nothing at all, remember to tell those you love just that — it’s easy to forget in this busy world we live in.

Need advice? Contact Natalie anonymously at and have your questions answered in an upcoming issue.