So much content, so little time! Even with all the contributors and weekenders, stories slip through the cracks all year long. Here’s a bunch of stories that would have been great to explore if there were more than 365 days to write. A special thanks to our Twitter followers for your help putting this list together–always feel free to share your finds with us at @mockingbirdnyc! Without further adieu, here’s a sample of what we missed:

0004670462090_500X500Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall I refill my brother’s appetizer plate at TGI Fridays? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” At least that’s what I immediately thought about as this Gawker reporter tested the limits of grace unlimited appetizers at TGI Fridays by eating nothing but cheesesticks for twelve hours straight. Sitting in the TGI Fridays from 11:30am till 1am, chronicling the event for future generations, we discover that yes, the appetizers were in fact unlimited.

One of our perennial favorites from year to year is this article about Thanksgiving being the most psychologically correct holiday, appropriate as we recover from the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Huffpost shared this article back around Thanksgiving about the psychological benefits of “saying grace,” meaning prayer before meals, and it’s two-parts schmaltz and three parts eye-rolling evolutionary psychology. But it is also, at heart, an acknowledgement of the frailty of human control and the need to acknowledge that frailty to be happy and healthy. File this one under “all truth is God’s truth,” especially when the author turns to a Christian writer to talk about grace despite trying really hard to make the piece non-religious (high five Anne Lamott!).

Over at Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams reflects on how forgiveness was necessary to write her memoir. Read it for the stories, which are relatable to those wrestling with the virtues of forgiveness, and gloss over the self-help vibe if you can.

ForgiveYourselfWe live in a culture in which apology – apology for some insensitive comment, apology for some really bad behavior, is a daily, and frequently empty, public act. Apologies make headlines. But forgiveness doesn’t. Forgiveness is a long process, one that takes place in fits and starts, one that often occurs without ever even hearing the words “I’m sorry.” Contrition – authentic, humble contrition – is a rare and beautiful thing. [ed. note- we might say a miraculous thing] Yet forgiveness is messy and even tougher to come by. “It is the hardest thing I’ve done,” says Inez. “I seize up with PTSD when I think about the things some people have done. I’m definitely not there yet, but I’m slowly getting there.” Me too. I have to believe it’s worth it, for all of us. I have to keep trying. I have to keep putting into practice, every day, the three toughest challenges of my adult life: patience, acceptance, mercy. It doesn’t mean letting toxic people into our lives, or forgetting the past. It just means putting pain and anger and disappointment in its place, and moving forward. As Pete tells me, “I think when you’re younger you think forgiveness is something you give other people. When you get older, you realize, it’s something you give yourself.”

I appreciate Williams’s reflection here–the only way you can make it in life is to embrace forgiveness. And I appreciate the tone of desperation too. When she talks about “putting pain and anger and disappointment in its place, and moving forward,” I have to wonder though–where does that place exist outside of the Place of the Skull two thousand years ago? The Universe, whatever that means, certainly won’t take them for us.

Absolution at its finest coming out of the college basketball world:

Emmitt Holt needed a lot in those first days, after the car accident that sent teammate Devin Davis to the hospital with a serious brain injury. He needed a member of Indiana’s coaching staff with him everywhere he went, to make sure he was never alone. He needed to hear that it wasn’t his fault, that he made a mistake but that he could still lean on his teammates. But mostly, Holt needed something simple, but often hard to find – forgiveness. “The first thing (Davis’) parents did was forgive me,” Holt said Tuesday, in the aftermath of Indiana’s (6-1) impressive 81-69 win over Pitt. “That was the biggest thing for me. I’d hurt their child.”

imgresMy first post on Mockingbird was this little ditty from 2010 on Stephen Hawking and aliens. How can I not point to this equally bleak warning about the future on artificial intelligence from the master physicist? Hawking articulates how and why artificial intelligence is scary, i.e. we won’t be able to control it.

How’s this for a bit of grace in practice? One community offering a bit of amnesty this holiday season with Operation Second Chance: “an annual program that allows people with non-violent, misdemeanor warrants to turn themselves in and get a new court date rather than being arrested and booked into county jail. The program runs through Dec. 31, and includes warrants for both criminal and traffic as well as infractions.” It ain’t the return of Jesus, but I’ll take it!

One of the weird fashion side effects of the late 00’s was a plethora of Chihuahuas in Los Angeles animal shelters. File that under sentences I’ll likely never write again. So the Los Angeles SPCA has teamed up with United Air to export the pups to Chihuahua-less shelters in other major cities across the U.S. So far, over 500 dogs have been rescued as a part of the program. I’m generally a fan of things being rescued and brought home through extravagant and over-the-top methods- there’s something beautiful and sacramental about it.

In opposite news, a guy burned down his house trying to kill a spider with spray paint and a lighter. A metaphor for self-salvation if I’ve ever heard one.

Via Twitter, h/t ET, we have a recommendation to see Two Days, One Night from the Dardenne brothers. With themes of clinical depression and compassion, the film follows Marion Cotillard as her coworkers vote between her keeping her job or laying her off and divvying up her pay. She spends the weekend visiting her coworkers attempting to convince them to keep her job. Hopefully it’ll be more widely available in 2015!

Also from twitter, the multi-media project from Jon Mueller, Death Blues, looks promising! An LP to be listened in conjunction with 7 essays about “vulnerability, the rawness of our inner lives, and how we move forward in the face of it all,” it sounds like something we  would really enjoy. Music writers- take note!

Two years ago, we were amused to read that 550 cardboard cutouts of David Hasslehoff being stolen from a convenience store chain in New England. This year, it’s $18,000 worth of AXE brand shower gel. Kudos to AXE for turning the other cheek on this one, with this statement from their senior director: “AXE is aware of the notorious Shower Gel heist in Indianapolis. While AXE does not condone illegal behavior, it’s obvious this ‘clean getaway’ was executed by one with impeccable taste in grooming.” That’s 3,600 bottles of shower gel by the way. Not enough to wash your sins away, but it’ll keep you (arguably) smelling good till the eschaton. And if that strikes your funnybone, there’s also this piece on Lego sets as the new lucrative crime targets.

Holiday gift guides are great, for the most part–especially the one we put together. But Drew Magary’s takedown of the William Sanoma gift guide is a tour de force [h/t MB on twitter]. Language advisory on the link. At first, I thought it might be too mean spirited, but when I saw the “grow your own organic mushrooms in your own kitchen on your own rotting log” gift suggestion, I too grabbed my torches and pitchfork. Too much! Too much!

BpHMmM2IEAEgz03Lastly- a shout out to all you parents this post-Christmas exhale. Hope the kiddos had a great Christmas. Here’s hoping your 2015 doesn’t involve them causing an international incident. Poor father “Chen” was denied access back home to China from South Korea when his four year old son doodled all over his passport. While the photo to the right was discovered to be a forgery, it still gets the point across. Parenting is hard.

Sorry we couldn’t get to everything (like HIMYM, ht AP). Happy New Year! For a look at things to come, don’t miss our 2015 preview!