Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Holidays for December 31st 2013

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve, which is on December 31, is the last day of the year in the United States. It is a major social observance and many parties are held, particularly in the evening.

New Year's Eve is a major social holiday for many people in the United States. Many people hold parties at home or attend special celebrations to celebrate the upcoming New Year. In many cities, large scale public events are held. These often attract thousands of people.

A particularly striking aspect of the New Year's Eve festivities is the ball drop in Times Square in Manhattan, New York City. The ball is made of crystal and electric lights and is placed on top of a pole, which is 77 feet, or 23 meters, high. At one minute before midnight on December 31, the ball is lowered slowly down the pole. It comes to rest at the bottom of the pole at exactly midnight. The event is shown on television across the United States and around the world. The event has been held every year since 1907, except during World War II.

Across the United States a range of cities and towns hold their own versions of the ball drop. A variety of objects are lowered or raised during the last minute of the year. The objects are usually linked to an aspect of local history or industry. Examples of objects 'dropped' or raised in this way include a variety of live and modeled domestic and wild animals, fruit, vegetables, automobiles, industrial machinery, a giant replica of a peach (Atlanta, Georgia), an acorn made of brass and weighing 900 pounds (Raleigh, North Carolina) and ping pong balls (Strasburg, Pennsylvania).

December 31 is not a federal holiday, but it does fall in the holiday season at the end of the year. It is a holiday in some states like Kentucky, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Most schools and other educational institutions throughout the United States are closed. Some organizations are closed and others are open but offer limited services. Many stores are open on New Year's Eve, but may close early. Many theaters, clubs and other entertainment venues have special programs. It may be necessary to reserve tickets many weeks in advance.

Public transit systems may operate normal or reduced services. Some companies extend their schedules into the early hours of January 1 to enable people who have attended New Year's Eve parties to return home safely. If you need to use public transit on December 31, it is wise to check the appropriate timetables carefully before you travel.

There may be some congestion to traffic or diversions around large scale events. Diversions may be in effect in the days before New Year's Eve so that stands can be built. It is wise to check the local media if you wish to drive to or near large scale events.

In both the Gregorian calendar, currently used in the United States, and the Julian calendar, which was used until 1752 in the British colonies, the last day of the year is December 31. In Europe, the mid-winter period was traditionally associated with feasting and parties. In the early years of the American colonies and within the United States, this type of celebration was often frowned upon, particularly by religious communities.

Around the start of the 1900s, New Year's Eve celebrations in America started to appear. The first Ball drop in Times Square was held in 1907. Around the same time, special events to welcome the New Year started to be organized on January 1.

New Year's resolution

A New Year's resolution is a secular tradition, most common in the West but found around the world, in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement starting on New Year's Day.

The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. In the Medieval era, the knights took the "peacock vow" at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry. At watchnight services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions. There are other religious parallels to this tradition. During Judaism's New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one's wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. People may act similarly during the Catholic fasting period of Lent, though the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility, in fact the practice of New Year's resolutions partially came from the Lenten sacrifices. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.

At the end of the Great Depression, about a quarter of American adults formed New Year's resolutions. At the start of the 21st century, about 40% did.

Some examples include resolutions to donate to the poor more often, to become more assertive, or to become more environmentally responsible.

Popular goals include resolutions to:
  • Improve physical well-being: eat healthy food, lose weight, exercise more, eat better, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, stop biting nails, get rid of old bad habits
  • Improve mental well-being; think positive, laugh more often, enjoy life
  • Improve finances: get out of debt, save money, make small investments
  • Improve career: perform better at current job, get a better job, establish own business
  • Improve education: improve grades, get a better education, learn something new (such as a foreign language or music), study often, read more books, improve talents
  • Improve self: become more organized, reduce stress, be less grumpy, manage time, be more independent, perhaps watch less television, play fewer sitting-down video games
  • Take a trip
  • Volunteer to help others, practice life skills, use civic virtue, give to charity, volunteer to work part-time in a charity organization (NGO)
  • Get along better with people, improve social skills, enhance social intelligence
  • Make new friends
  • Spend quality time with family members
  • Settle down, get engaged/get married, have kids
  • Try foreign foods, discovering new cultures
  • Pray more, be closer to God, be more spiritual
A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study's participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying "lose weight"), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.

Quoting Frank Ra (author of the new year's resolution book "A course in happiness"): "Resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution. Peer-support makes a difference in success rate with new year's resolutions". It is also noted that talking with a counselor about setting goals and new year resolutions can help you keep those resolutions.

Make Up Your Mind Day

This holiday is observed and celebrated on December 31 every year.

It's about making up your mind and sticking to it. It's time to stop being indecisive and make up your mind. No more putting off your decision, todays the day to finalize your thoughts and take a stand! Just remember- making up your mind makes life easier.

I wonder why the month of December was picked to celebrate make up your mind day and why the 31st day?? That's the question. But unfortunately… our research did not find the creator, or the origin of this day. This holiday is referred to as a "National" day. However, we did not find any congressional records or presidential proclamations for this day. Even though we didn't, this is still a holiday that is publicized to celebrate. So have fun with it and celebrate it!

Mind collectively refers to the aspects of intellect and consciousness manifested as combinations of thought, perception, memory, emotion, will and imagination; mind is the stream of consciousness. It includes all of the brain's conscious processes. This denotation sometimes includes, in certain contexts, the working of the human unconscious or the conscious thoughts of animals. "Mind" is often used to refer especially to the thought processes of reason.

National Champagne Day

There's a bit of confusion as to when National Champagne Day is. Some calendars say it's December 31st where others say it's August 4. We think the reason everyone thinks December 31st is National Champagne Day is because of the New Years Eve saying- "It's Champagne Day!" It is champagne day as far as the New Years celebration goes but as far as the National Holiday, we think the actual National holiday is August 4.

This holiday is celebrated by breaking open a bottle of bubbly! Yep that's what everyone does on this holiday. What's the most popular way to open the bubbly you ask? Well it looks like it's traditional to celebrate this holiday by hosting a champagne breakfast, brunch or lunch. I've read some posts that say they like to have a champagne picnic if the weather is good too.

Most people need a good reason to drink champagne because it's more of a celebration drink but National Champagne Day is a holiday in itself which gives everyone an excuse to drink the bubbley!

What is a Champagne Breakfast?
"A champagne breakfast is a breakfast served with champagne or sparkling wine. The accompanying breakfast is sometimes of a similarly high standard and include rich foods such as salmon, caviar, chocolate or pastries, which would not ordinarily be eaten at breakfast."

"Champagne is a sparkling wine produced by inducing the in-bottle secondary fermentation of the wine to effect carbonation. It is produced exclusively within the Champagne region of France, from which it takes its name. Through international treaty, national law or quality-control/consumer protection related local regulations, most countries limit the use of the term to only those wines that come from the Champagne appellation. In Europe, this principle is enshrined in the European Union by Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status. Other countries, such as the United States, have recognized the exclusive nature of this name, yet maintain a legal structure that allows longtime domestic producers of sparkling wine to continue to use the term "champagne" under specific circumstances. The majority of US produced sparkling wines do not use the term "champagne" on their labels and some states, such as Oregon, ban producers in their states from using the term."

"Champagne first gained world renown because of its association with the anointment of French kings. Royalty from throughout Europe spread the message of the unique sparkling wine from Champagne and its association with luxury and power. The leading manufacturers devoted considerable energy to creating a history and identity for their wine, associating it and themselves with nobility and royalty. Through advertising and packaging they sought to associate champagne with high luxury, festivities and rites of passage. Their efforts coincided with an emerging middle class that was looking for ways to spend its money on symbols of upward mobility."

"The Romans were the first to plant vineyards in this area of northeast France with the region being cultivated by at least the 5th century, possibly earlier. Wines from the Champagne region were known before medieval times. Churches owned vineyards and monks produced wine for use in the sacrament of Eucharist. French kings were traditionally anointed in Reims and champagne wine was served as part of coronation festivities. The Champenois were envious of the reputation of the wines made by their Burgundian neighbors to the south and sought to produce wines of equal acclaim. However the northerly climate of the region gave the Champenois a unique set of challenges in making red wine. At the far extremes of sustainable viticulture, the grapes would struggle to ripen fully and often would have bracing levels of acidity and low sugar levels. The wines would be lighter bodied and thinner than the Burgundy wines they were seeking to outdo."

"The English scientist and physician Christopher Merret documented the addition of sugar to a finished wine to create a second fermentation six years before Dom Perignon set foot in the Abbey of Hautvillers and almost 40 years before it was claimed that the famed Benedictine monk invented champagne. Contrary to legend and popular belief, Dom Perignon did not invent sparkling wine. Merrett presented the Royal Society with a paper in which he detailed what is now called méthode champenoise in 1662."

"Although the French monk Dom Perignon (1638-1715) did not invent champagne, it is true he developed many advances in the production of this beverage, including holding the cork in place with a wire collar (muselet) to withstand the fermentation pressure. In France, the first sparkling champagne was created accidentally; its pressure led it to be called "the devil's wine" (le vin du diable) as bottles exploded or the cork jolted away. Even when it was deliberately produced as a sparkling wine, champagne was for a very long time made by the méthode rurale, where the wine was bottled before the only fermentation had finished. Champagne did not utilize the méthode champenoise until the 19th century, approximately 200 years after Christopher Merret documented the process. The nineteenth century saw an explosive growth in champagne production going from a regional production of 300,000 bottles a year in 1800 to 20 million bottles in 1850."

"In the 1800s champagne was noticeably sweeter than the champagne of today. The trend towards drier champagne began when Perrier-Jouët decided not to sweeten his 1846 vintage prior to exporting it to London. The designation Brut champagne, the modern champagne, was created for the British in 1876."

Universal Hour of Peace Day

“Living peaceably begins by thinking peacefully” is the motto of the Universal Hour of Peace, held each year from 11:30pm on December 31st to 12:30am on January 1st. (I believe many who wish to do this on a global, not local level, celebrate this at noon GMT.)

What started in 1995 as an hour of peace soon grew into a yearly event now held as we transition into each New Year. What is the vision? For everyone to spend this one hour—the same hour— in a state of peace.

The idea of large groups of people engaging in an activity at the same time is a powerful one. There is an energetic coherence which happens when we get on the same thought frequency.

The folks at the Global Coherence Initiative tell us that, “large numbers of people intentionally creating heart-coherent states of care, love, compassion and appreciation will generate a coherent standing wave that can help offset the current planetary-wide wave of stress, discord and incoherence.”

In fact, they’re studying the effects of groups of people engaging in heart centered meditation. Groups of people are coming together to intentionally send out thoughts of peace and compassion. And as more and more groups come together to do this, we have an opportunity to re-shape our collective consciousness…through heart-centered thought.

It’s been estimated that an idea put out there is virtually unstoppable once 20% of the population adopts it.

Just think if 20% of the world’s population spent this Universal Hour of Peace doing something peaceful…what change might that spark?

And if this one hour of thinking peacefully ignited within us a more peaceful day to day life…what might that do to the world we live in.

This New Years Eve, take a moment, an hour even, and sit for peace. Let your thoughts join with others this year, in a time where peaceful living is so in need.

World Peace Meditation Day

World Peace Meditation Day is a time in which we all come together and live harmoniously as one. Since December 31, 1986, spiritual communities around the world have come together in hope for world peace through the calmness and serenity of meditation. The day was created in order to unite people under the common bond of love and peace. People all over the world came together through prayer and meditation in hopes of spreading their own thoughts and feelings towards world peace.

"Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the conditioned, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness. Meditation often involves turning attention to a single point of reference." "It is recognized as a component of almost all religions, and has been practiced for over 5,000 years." "It is also practiced outside religious traditions. Different meditative disciplines encompass a wide range of spiritual and/or psychophysical practices which may emphasize different goals -- from achievement of a higher state of consciousness, to greater focus, creativity or self-awareness, or simply a more relaxed and peaceful frame of mind."

The word meditation originally comes from the Indo-European root med-, meaning "to measure." From the root med- are also derived the English words mete, medicine, modest, and moderate." "It entered English as meditation through the Latin meditatio, which originally indicated every type of physical or intellectual exercise, then later evolved into the more specific meaning "contemplation."

"Eastern meditation techniques have been adapted and increasingly practiced in Western culture."

No Interruptions Day

Does it seem like your child has radar from across the house the moment you pick up the phone to have a conversation?

Inevitably, there suddenly is an urgent question that must be answered -- right NOW! Most parents will admit that their child is a "work-in-progress."

One of the more challenging lessons involves patience and not to interrupt "unless there's blood involved" according to my mom! Breaking free of this cycle may not happen overnight. Still, use "No Interruptions Day" as a stepping stone in the right direction.

Talk about it
Explain why it's important not to interrupt, except for worthy cause. In addition to being disruptive, at times it may be considered just plain rude.

As your child grows and interacts more with others, interrupting can actually become a habit that -- once entrenched to adulthood can be even more impossible to break. Think of your child's future employer and colleagues, not to mention spouse (if they choose). All will frown upon this characteristic.

Give examples
Kids need some guidance to help them determine when it is and is not ok to interrupt. Help them differentiate between "Mom, Jason jumped out the second story window!" (PLEASE interrupt!) and "Jason looked at me -- through the wall -- on the other side of the house! I can feel him looking!" (Um… No interrupting!)

Offer several scenarios. Keep them relevant to your child! Teach good manners for when they must interrupt with phrases such as "excuse me" and "sorry for the interruption."

Role play
Practice makes perfect isn't just an old adage. Take turns with your child acting out various scenarios. Allow them time in your shoes as well. Practice at home, in the car, at the store...anywhere at all is perfect.

Enlist others to help. Draft grandparents, siblings and even the next door neighbor. If possible, videotape your exchanges and play them back. Seeing good manners in action -- particularly when it's their own -- is more likely to stick.

Practice what your preach
As adults we need to strive to insure that we're modeling good behavior. Be a good listener, especially within conversations with your child. Don't walk over them before they can complete a thought to share.

Wait for complete instructions from your boss before you let him or her know what your objections may be. Take note when your significant other has something to say.

Displaying the positive give and take will stress the importance of not interrupting for your child.

Plan ahead
It really isn't fair to go start a long phone call or work on a project, and leave your child "hanging" so to speak. When possible, prepare your child with something to do.

Get that glass of water as you wouldn't want them to die of thirst! Do the potty break before dialing in. Gather a healthy snack to keep starvation at bay! The more you can predict, the more successful you will be in having a somewhat complete conversation – sans disturbances!

In case of emergency, dial M-O-M
While you do want to teach your child about having good manners and no interrupting, at the same time it's vital to teach when it is ok to butt in!

In a true emergency, you do want to be informed. Remember that blood reference from my mother? Your child should tell you about things like fire, life, limbs at risk -- or one off your personal list (the DVR failed to kick on to record the final episode of your favorite show, perhaps).

Have you experienced a "most embarrassing moment" from a small youth interrupter? How have you worked to meet this challenge?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Holidays for December 30th 2013

Bacon Day

If you are a bacon lover, and who isn't, go grab your fork! Hip hip hooray, Dec. 30 is Bacon Day! It's the perfect day to go hog wild! The annual food holiday, created by Danya Goodman and Meff Leonard, celebrates bacon in all its tasty glory! Bacon is so popular, it is celebrated several times a year.

A day in which millions of people around the world will celebrate a gift from Above. The poor man’s caviar. The delicacy of the disadvantaged. Today is Bacon Day, an event that brings together men and women from all backgrounds, nationalities, creeds and colors, as only bacon can do —Bacon Day, started in 2004 by some students at the University of Colorado, is celebrated annually on the Saturday before Labor Day around the globe. Some countries recognize Bacon Day on December 30, while others do Bacon Day on the first Saturday in January after the New Year. No matter the date, Bacon Day is a time to pig out on pig. The creative use of bacon on this day truly boggles the mind – bacon beer mugs full of melted cheese, bacon roses, bacon turtles, you name it. Some enterprising people have even used bacon to make clothing.

Now go! Get out and celebrate, nay, sing the praises of, bacon! It’s your chance to show the world that if we all ate bacon every day, war, famine, disease and skinny people will be no more! Kiss a pig today in honor of Bacon Day. Hug a butcher. Take a pig to a butcher. We couldn’t do it without either of them. Then go make yourself a BLT. I really like Bacon!

Whether you prefer yours chewy or crispy, this popular meat product can be smoked, fried, baked, boiled or grilled. In honor of Bacon Day, why not whip up one or two of the bacon-inspired dishes, drinks and cocktail recipes listed below? It's time to make some bacon!

Falling Needles Family Fest Day

If you have had a real “evergreen” tree slowly dying in your living room for almost a month, as I have, you may have noticed the soft sounds of needles falling onto your carpet and your tree skirt of fake snow. Perhaps the people who invented this wacky holiday intend celebrants to put away the ornaments and lights, carry out the dried carcass of the former tree, and vacuum.

Nothing says family festivities like un-decorating a Christmas tree, unless it's vacuuming!

Festival of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute

New Year's Day is just two days away. Do you have your resolutions ready? If not, then the Festival Of Enormous Changes At The Last Minute could be the perfect holiday. How many years have we made our New Year's resolutions on the spot during the heat of the New Year's Eve moment while under the spell of the bubbly? Or, the next morning while recovering from its spell? This is the holiday that encourages us to plan ahead. To review the past year(s) unrushed with a clear mind to think about the life changes we'd like to make with the clean start of the coming year.

It's curious that this holiday refers to itself as a festival. Does this imply that we should invite a few friends and family to help us in our brainstorming of the enormous changes that we should make? Might be a little too much honesty going on for that to work out well. Perhaps, the festival meaning is that many of us will be simultaneously performing this activity on our own. We think we'll go with the latter interpretation.

National Bicarbonate of Soda Day

It’s National Bicarbonate of Soda Day! Sodium bicarbonate (commonly known as baking soda) is used in baking, cooking, de-odorizing, cleaning, polishing, and countless other applications.

The ancient Egyptians used natural deposits of sodium bicarbonate as a cleansing agent like soap, but it wasn't until 1791 that French chemist Nicolas Leblanc produced sodium bicarbonate in its modern form. In 1846, two New York bakers named John Dwight and Austin Church established the first factory to make baking soda.

Baking soda is a white, odorless, crystalline solid that is completely soluble in water. It is very useful around the home, the kitchen, and for medical purposes. Did you know that baking soda can even be used as an antacid to treat indigestion and heartburn? Sodium bicarbonate certainly deserves a whole day of celebration!

Happy National Bicarbonate of Soda Day!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holidays for December 29th 2013

National Pepper Pot Day

Today is a day to celebrate another food. It might or might not be one you are familiar with. December 29 is Pepper Pot Day.

What exactly is pepper pot? Pepper pot is a thick spicy soup first created on December 29, 1777.

Pepper pot became known as "the soup that won the war." Here's why.

During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Army experienced an exceptionally harsh winter in Valley Forge. The farmers in the area had sold their supplies to the British Army for cash instead of selling the supplies to the Continental soldiers for the little currency they had. Therefore, the soldiers were low on food the entire winter.

Christopher Ludwick, the baker general of the Continental Army, gathered whatever food he could find to feed the frail soldiers. The chef found scraps of tripe, meat, and some peppercorn. He mixed the ingredients together with some other seasonings and created the hot spicy soup we now know as pepper pot.

We can celebrate this historic dish by finding whatever scraps we have in our refrigerator and try making our own pepper pot soup. It’s the perfect way to warm up on a chilly December day. However, the fun of making pepper pot is to search for your own scraps.

Tick Tock Day

December 29th is Tick Tock Day, a day to review your dreams and goals and start making them into a reality! The end of December is a popular time for looking back on the year’s accomplishments — a helpful process when it comes to shaping your resolutions for the coming year. So now is the time to make your list, check it twice (no, wait — that’s Christmas), and see which boxes you haven’t been able to check off for 2013. Use the remaining days of the year to complete your goal or come up with a fool-proof plan to get it done in 2014!

I’m definitely a planner. It’s a quality that I know Chris appreciates when it comes to things like getting the bills paid, scheduling our dentist appointments, and keeping our household in order. But at other times I know it can be really, really annoying. For instance, I am constantly coming up with projects I’d like us to do around the house. And when we don’t have the time, energy, money, or ambition to start or complete those projects I complain about it. I’ve worked hard to separate the wish-list “some day” fantasy projects from those that will actually help us lead more efficient lives. And that work shaped four of the major goals I’d set for 2013:
  1. Clean out the basement
  2. Organize the tool shed and garage
  3. Organize my home office
  4. Clear out my email inbox
Unfortunately, goals 1 through 3 are going to have to carry into the new year. Although we’ve made progress on all three they still aren’t complete. But I think we’ll be finding a little extra time on our hands when our year of living unofficially is over so I don’t see why we can’t have these completed by this time next year. At least I hope so. Right? Anyway, I’m setting priorities and creating a plan of action since I’d really like it all done before we add a new Neigh to the family. The last thing I need is to lose the baby’s birth certificate in the great black hole I call my home office

But, I also have good news to report! This evening, in celebration of Tick Tock Day, I spent a few hours working on the fourth goal by cleaning up my Gmail Inbox. I’d really let it go this year and it was shockingly full, mostly with stupid emails from places I had to unsubscribe from. Some of the almost two thousand messages (1400 of which were unread!) had also become obsolete due to the time they’d been sitting in my inbox. Most of these were coupons or sale announcements and these messages were almost a relief since I didn’t need to do anything with them except hit the delete button! I also got to revisit a few emails I’d kept for their humor factor, so I had some good laughs during the cleanup process. And — almost as good as the laughs — I now have the satisfaction of an inbox with less than twenty messages in it!

YMCA Founded

In 1844, industrialized London was a place of great turmoil and despair. For the young men who migrated to the city from rural areas to find jobs, London offered a bleak landscape of tenement housing and dangerous influences.

Twenty-two-year-old George Williams, a farmer-turned-department store worker, was troubled by what he saw. He joined 11 friends to organize the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the streets.

Although an association of young men meeting around a common purpose was nothing new, the Y offered something unique for its time. The organization’s drive to meet social need in the community was compelling, and its openness to members crossed the rigid lines separating English social classes.

Years later, retired Boston sea captain Thomas Valentine Sullivan, working as a marine missionary, noticed a similar need to create a safe “home away from home” for sailors and merchants. Inspired by the stories of the Y in England, he led the formation of the first U.S. YMCA at the Old South Church in Boston on December 29, 1851.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holidays for December 28th 2013

National Card Playing Day

Pull up a chair and get ready to shuffle, friends! National Card Playing Day, a day dedicated to playing card games, is December 28th.

Card games, around since the ninth century – the first playing cards were invented in China during the Tang Dynasty – have survived for centuries as a form of entertainment. In today’s technology-saturated climate, however, it’s easy to forget this old tradition.

National Card Playing Day is an effort to ensure this doesn’t happen. The benefits of playing card games along with other strategy and board games are many, and they qualify as brain fitness exercises.

According to the National Institute on Aging, engaging in these types of activities helps seniors maintain brainpower as they age.

A 2012 study conducted by Rush University Medical Center and the Illinois Institute of Technology also found that playing cards may contribute to a healthier brain and fight brain aging.

The best card games for maintaining mental health are ones that incorporate memory, concentration, strategy and problem solving, so skip those endless games of solitaire in favor of bridge, gin rummy or poker.

Card games such as these require paying careful attention to what cards have been played as well as the subtle body language signs of other players.

Short-term memory games have also been shown to improve long-term memory functions, as well as other cognitive skills.

Children also benefit from playing card games, as they provide a fun way to mentally stimulate their brains. Many card games for children are also educational, helping them detect patterns, predict the outcome of alternative moves, and learn basic mathematical skills.

Along with boosting mental health, playing card games with adults or older children can teach kids other valuable skills such as how to win and lose with grace and how to interact with others in competitive situations.

When choosing a card games, pick one that is challenging, and make an effort to switch games or learn a new one every so often. This stimulates the brain and keeps neural pathways functioning.

National Chocolate Candy Day

It's National Chocolate Candy Day! Chocolate candy is one of the most popular sweets in the world. It can be combined with everything from nuts and caramel to raisins and pretzels to make some of our favorite chocolate treats!

The story of chocolate, as far back as we know it, begins more than 2000 years ago in equatorial Central America where the Mayan Indians held cocoa beans in high regard. Images of cocoa pods were carved into the walls of their elaborate stone temples, and Mayan writings refer to cacao as "food of the gods." It was the Mayans who first created a beverage from crushed cocoa beans which was enjoyed by royalty and shared at sacred ceremonies.

Chocolate's importance in the Aztec Empire also is clearly recorded. The Aztecs called the prized drink they made from cocoa beans "chocolate," which means "warm liquid." Like the earlier Mayans, the Aztecs drank the unsweetened beverage during special ceremonies. Montezuma II, a royal monarch of the Aztecs, maintained great storehouses filled with cocoa beans and reportedly consumed 50 or more portions of chocolatl daily from a golden goblet.

Cocoa Beans and Coins Cocoa beans, however, weren't only consumed. Both the Mayans and the Aztecs used cocoa beans as currency. According to a 16th century Spanish chronicle, a rabbit was worth 4 - 10 cocoa beans and a mule cost 50 beans.

Europe was first introduced to the principal ingredient of chocolate when Christopher Columbus brought a handful of the dark, almond-shaped beans back to Spain from his last voyage to the Caribbean islands in 1502. He presented many strange and wonderful objects from the lands he explored to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Included among them were cocoa beans, placed before royalty as little more than a curiosity. They appeared most unpromising. The King and Queen of Spain never dreamed how important cocoa beans would become.

It remained for Hernando Cortes, the Spanish explorer, to grasp the commercial possibilities of cocoa beans.

When Cortes arrived in what is now known as Mexico in 1519, the Aztecs mistakenly believed that he was the reincarnation of a former god-king who had been exiled from the land. They did not realize that Cortes was seeking Aztec gold which was rumored to exist. Montezuma greeted the Spanish explorers with a large banquet which included cups of a bitter chocolate drink. By the time the Aztecs realized their mistake, the Spanish had begun to overpower them. Within three years, Cortes and his followers brought about the fall of the Aztec empire.

During this time, Cortes realized the economic potential for cocoa beans. He experimented with chocolate, adding cane sugar to make it more agreeable to Spanish tastes. He also established additional cacao plantings in the Caribbean region before returning to Spain.

Back in Spain, the new version of chocolate found favor with the wealthy, and continued to undergo flavor refinements. Newly imported spices, such as cinnamon and vanilla, were added to the drink. Ultimately, someone decided the drink would taste better if served steaming hot, creating the first hot chocolate, which quickly won followers among the Spanish aristocracy. Spain proceeded to plant more cacao trees in its overseas colonies in Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Jamaica to ensure an ample supply of cocoa beans. Remarkably, the Spanish were able to keep their ventures in cocoa cultivation and their creation of early cocoa drinks a secret from the rest of Europe for nearly one hundred years.

Spanish monks were assigned the task of processing the cocoa beans. It may have been these monks who let out the secret by discussing cocoa with their French counterparts. Then, in 1580, the first cocoa processing plant was established in Spain. It did not take long before chocolate was acclaimed throughout Europe as a delicious, health-giving drink. For a while it reigned as the chosen beverage at the fashionable Court of France. Chocolate drinking spread across the English Channel to Great Britain, and in 1657 the first of many famous English Chocolate Houses appeared.

Mass production of cocoa became possible with the introduction of a perfected steam engine, which mechanized the cocoa grinding process. By 1730, cocoa had dropped in price from three dollars or more per pound to within financial reach of all.

The invention of the cocoa press in 1828 was another major breakthrough in cocoa production. This not only helped reduce prices even further, but more importantly, improved the quality of the beverage by squeezing out about half of the cocoa butter (the fat that occurs naturally in cocoa beans) from the ground-up beans, leaving behind a cake-like residue that could be further processed into a fine powder. From then on, chocolate drinks had more of the smooth consistency and the recognizable flavor of those enjoyed today.

The 19th Century witnessed two more revolutionary developments in the history of chocolate. In 1847, an English company introduced the first solid eating chocolate made by combining melted cocoa butter with sugar and cocoa powder. This chocolate had a smooth, velvety texture and quickly replaced the old coarse-grained chocolate which formerly dominated the world market. The second development occurred in 1876 in Vevey, Switzerland, when Daniel Peter devised a way of adding milk to chocolate, creating the product we enjoy today known as milk chocolate.

In the United States of America, the production of chocolate proceeded at a faster pace than anywhere else in the world. It was in pre-revolutionary New England - 1765, to be exact - that the first chocolate factory was established in this country. During World War II, the U.S. government recognized chocolate's role in the nourishment and group spirit of the Allied Armed Forces, so much so that it allocated valuable shipping space for the importation of cocoa beans. Many soldiers were thankful for the chocolate bars, which gave them the energy to carry on until more food rations could be obtained. Today, the U.S. Army's Meals Ready to Eat contain chocolate bars and chocolate candies, and chocolate has been taken into space as part of the diet of U.S. astronauts.

Did you know that during the Second World War, the U.S. Government commissioned Milton Hershey to create a candy bar to include in the soldiers' rations? The recipe his company created is now the famous Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar.

Today, chocolate is still clearly an American favorite treat. Over 2.8 billion pounds are consumed annually. On average that means each person consumes over eleven pounds per year! To celebrate National Chocolate Candy Day, enjoy some of your favorite types of chocolate candy.

Pledge of Allegiance Day

On this day in 1945, U.S. Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance as an American flag salute. The original pledge was written by Baptist minister Francis Bellamy half a century before, for a public school program. Bellamy apparently never considered putting in a line about God (the words “under God” were added to the pledge in the 1950s), but he did want to include the word “equality.” Because Bellamy knew that powerful people who would see the program were against equality for women and for black people, he backed off from his good idea and simply wrote:
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Did you know that in Bellamy's day (late 1800s and early 1900s), children saluted the flag with a straight, upraised arm? Can you guess why that was changed to another quite different salute?

In the 1920s, the National Flag Conference changed Bellamy's words “my Flag” to the phrase “the Flag of the United States of America.” Bellamy disliked the change and protested it. Bellamy's granddaughter has said that he would also have resented the addition of the words “under God.” Apparently he had been pressured into leaving his job of minister because of his socialist ideas; eventually he left the Baptist church altogether.

Some people want to change the pledge to a version close to Bellamy's original concept:
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with equality, liberty, and justice for all.”
By the way, did you know that the Supreme Court ruled that nobody can require others to salute the flag or say the pledge? In 1940, the court ruled by an eight to one vote that the government could make people show respect for the flag because it was the central symbol of national unity. But just three years later, by a six to three vote, it reversed its ruling, saying that the right to free speech guaranteed in the First Amendment meant that people did not have to salute the flag or say the pledge.

(These court decisions were in response to children whose families were Jehovah's Witness. The kids felt that reciting the pledge would go against the teachings of their religion—but they were expelled from school for their refusal to participate. Some school kids today who don't participate in reciting the pledge say that their refusal is due to the fact that they do not believe in God, and don't want to pledge with the words “under God.”)

“They're Always Changing the Map!” Day

Geography is the study of the earth's features, including land and oceans and human-created features.

The earth is always changing. Over the course of the billions of years of its existence, the continents and oceans have changed positions and shapes as tectonic plates slowly moved around, pulled apart, and slammed into each other. Mountains have been pushed up and worn down, islands have risen and sunk, land bridges have connected and later disappeared—earth's an active world, and things are always changing.

But by and large, these natural features change reeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllly slowly.

Human features such as roads, cities, and nations are much quicker to change. In historical times (mere thousands of years), people have migrated from one area to another, settled cities and abandoned others, sworn allegiance to a particular ruler or rebelled against another, declared independence, taken over neighboring countries, or united to make a larger, stronger nation.

Today is the anniversary of two events that required changes in maps:

On this day in 1836, the city of Adelaide was founded in South Australia.

And on this day ten years later, in 1846, the state of Iowa joined the United States of America, becoming its 29th state.

More on Adelaide...
South Australia was settled as a new British province with the founding of Adelaide. The Surveyor-General of the new province, Colonel William Light, planned the site and basic layout of the city, with wide streets oriented in north-south or east-west directions and park lands surrounding the city center like a green belt. Because of his plan, the city did not have to undergo modification as it grew and as technology advanced, as most old cities do.

More on Iowa...
This state got its name for one of the many groups of Native Americans that lived there, the Ioway, a name that was also given to one of the rivers that flows through that area.

Actually, the tribal name was “Ayuxwa,” which means “one who puts to sleep.” The French spelled the name “Ayoua,” and the English spelled it “Ioway.”

The state's nickname is the Hawkeye State. Apparently this is to honor the memory of Black Hawk, a leader of the Sauk Indians. It is very interesting to me that Black Hawk has the stature of a hero, with statues of him on display, roads and schools and other features named after him, and a biography that became a best-seller in his own time—although he could have been seen as an enemy of the state. Black Hawk led Sauk warriors against the United States, alongside the British and many other groups of Native Americans, during the War of 1812, and he fought against the U.S. again in the Black Hawk War of 1832. After Black Hawk and his warriors were defeated, he was taken into custody and sent around the U.S. with other Indian leaders. Although they were prisoners, these leaders were met with huge crowds of mostly positive onlookers. They were painted by portrait artists and interviewed for biographies. Near the locations where he had actually fought, Black Hawk's reception was less positive—crowds there were more likely to jeer and burn or hang effigies than to cheer.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Holidays for December 27th 2013

Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day

Make Cut Out Snowflake Day is here and now. Here's a day to show your crafty skills, as you make paper snowflakes. Making cut out snowflakes is a great project for kids. However, you don't have to be a kid, to have fun making paper snowflakes. It's a skill that is practiced by many people.

They say no two snowflakes are alike. It shouldn't come as a surprise, that there are seemingly countless different snowflake designs. Templates abound, from fast and easy patterns, to intricate time consuming designs to challenge the most practiced "snowflaker".

So, if you like snow...bring it on! Bring out the paper and scissors, and cut out some paper snowflakes on this very special Make Cut Out Snowflake Day.

I’m mildly surprised as to the selection of December 27 to celebrate this day. Making paper snowflakes is a very popular school craft project. On December 27, all school children are out on Christmas holiday.

National Fruitcake Day

This holiday is celebrated annually on December 27 every year.

It wouldn't be Christmas if the traditional fruit cake wasn't sitting on the dessert table. I have wonderful memories of watching my Mother mixing up fruit cakes each and every Christmas and it was magical. When I became old enough to use a knife I would help her chop up the candied fruit and pore it in the mixing bowl. She would mix up the huge batch with her hands by rolling it over and over until it was distributed evenly.

I have to say though that I don't like to eat fruit cakes made with candied fruit at all. But having said that, I still always want a fruit cake each Christmas because they hold so many great memories for me. They look so beautiful with all the red, yellow and green candied colors! giggle~

Go ahead- make some fruit cake memories for your family too! If you don't like the traditional American recipe of using candied fruit, then try one of the new recipes that use dried fruit and nuts with no candied fruits at all. There delicious!

Fruitcake (or fruit cake) is a cake made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices, and optionally soaked in spirits. In the United Kingdom certain rich versions may be iced and decorated. Fruitcakes are often served in the celebration of weddings and Christmas.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Holidays for December 26th 2013

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a holiday for many Canadians on December 26. It gives people the chance to take part in the post-Christmas sales or watch ice hockey games.

Many people in Canada have a day off work and many of them visit stores that start their annual sales on Boxing Day. Some shoppers even start waiting outside stores in the small hours of the morning and many stores open earlier than usual. Now, the sales often last for a whole week between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve and are known as the "Boxing Week Sales" instead of the "Boxing Day Sales". In some areas, particularly in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario, stores are not open on Boxing Day and the post-Christmas sales start on December 27.

A number of important sporting events are held on Boxing Day and watching them on television is a popular activity. The International Ice Hockey Federation world junior hockey championships often start on December 26. The Canadian National team often does well in this event. The Spengler Cup ice hockey tournament, which is played in Davos, Switzerland, is also shown on major sports television channels. The Canada national men's team has performed well in this event in recent years.

Boxing Day is a federal holiday and is listed in the Canadian Labour Code as a holiday. However, it is not uniformly observed in all provinces and territories. It is not an official holiday in Quebec, nor is it a statutory holiday in Alberta and British Columbia. In practice, many organizations and businesses are closed, although stores are often open.

In some communities, particularly in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador, stores are not open. Post offices across the country are closed. As Boxing Day falls in the Christmas holiday period, schools are closed. Public transport services may run a normal or reduced service, or provide no service.When Boxing Day falls on a Sunday or Saturday that is a non-working day, workers are entitled to a holiday with pay on the working day immediately preceding or following the general holiday.

Boxing Day is a holiday in the United Kingdom and many countries (including Canada) that were once part of the British Empire. The origin of this holiday's name is not clear. In feudal times in the United Kingdom, the lord of the manor would 'pay' people who worked on his land in the past year with boxes practical goods, such as agricultural tools, food and cloth. These were often distributed on the day after Christmas Day. More recently, employers traditionally gave their servants a gift of money or food in a small box on the day after Christmas Day. Some people in Canada still give gifts to people who provide them with services.

Other stories relate to servants being allowed to take a portion of the food left over from the Christmas celebrations in a box to their families and the distribution of alms from the church collection boxes to poor parishioners. These traditions evolved into the Christmas baskets that some employers distribute to their employees during the holiday season at the end of the year.

National Candy Cane Day

National Candy Cane Day is December 26th every year. This Holiday is set aside for people around the world to appreciate the candy cane, it's history and how good it tastes.

A candy cane is a hard cane-shaped candy stick. It is traditionally white with red stripes and flavored with peppermint (also known as a peppermint stick); however, it is also made in a variety of other flavors and may be decorated with stripes of different colors and thicknesses. The candy cane is a traditional candy surrounding the Christmas holiday in North America, although it is possible to find them throughout the year.

The candy cane was originally a straight, hard, and all-white candy stick invented by French priests in the early 1400s. The cane shape is traditionally credited to a choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral in Germany, who, legend has it, in 1670 bent straight sugar sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's staff, and gave them to children at church services. Another theory is that, as people decorated their Yule trees with food, the bent candy cane was invented as a functional solution. Candy with red stripes first appeared in the early 1900s. Postcards before 1900s show only white colored candy canes.

In recent years, apocryphal origin stories for the candy cane have become popular. Usually they suggest the candy cane was invented by an American Protestant, usually described as being an unnamed candy maker in 1870s Indiana, to represent Jesus. These stories typically suggest that the white of the candy cane represents Jesus's purity, the bold red stripes represents crucifixion, and the three thin red stripes stand for the Holy Trinity. This legend further posits that the general shape is for the "J" in Jesus, as well as perhaps to resemble a shepherd's cane.

National Thank You Note Day

When was the last time you said, “Thank You?”

Think about it for a second. Was it when the barista at your local coffee shop handed you your lunch-break lattè this afternoon? Or when your significant took out the trash last night, just because they know you hate it, and the sofa was just so warm? Was it Monday, after a co-worker had gone the extra mile to make sure you had a copy of a report you needed?

Or has it been longer than that?

We all get caught up in the everyday business of life that we forget to be mindful of living. It’s so easy in our hyper-speed world to forget the small moments of connection that define what it is to be human, including the moments when we can express gratitude for things both great and small.

Today is National Thank You Day, the perfect opportunity to pause and express your gratitude for the people in your life. While an email is nice, and a phone call is fine, take five minutes and go the extra length with a handwritten note. It doesn’t have to involve expensive stationery and a fountain pen; even a sheet of binder paper and a pencil will do the trick.

The beauty of a handwritten note is that it’s a tangible and personal expression of your appreciation. It signifies that you took the time to focus solely on them, that you cared enough for the recipient to create something meant only for their eyes. They say that letter-writing a lost art, and like any artist, you are creating something that will last, both on a piece paper and in a person’s memory.

Generations before mine saved love letters and other notes by stacking them neatly and tying them together with blue ribbon. I somehow doubt that years from now, when my grandchildren are going through my effects, a pile of printed out emails and text messages will hold the same allure, no matter what ribbon I use to bind them.

They say a person’s handwriting reveals secrets about their personality in a way that a text message or tweet never could. Whether chicken scratch or elegant script, your handwriting will hold allure for the reader, because it is an extension of yourself. No matter how many emoticons and “LOLs” you sprinkle throughout a digital message, the level of personal investment just isn’t the same. It’s a risky proposition, letter writing. You lay it out on the line.

So start small. Start with a written thank-you note for a great cup of coffee, an extra five minutes on the sofa, a job well done. It doesn’t have to be long, it just has to say thank you. It’s only just past 2:00 in California, barely 5:00 back east. You still have plenty of time.

National Whiner's Day

Now that the end of the world has become a non-event and Christmas is an hour or so away, it might be time to start thinking about the day AFTER Christmas, a day of recuperating from friends and family, the poorly-cooked traditional dinner and the gifts that will have to be returned.

In other words, it’s time to celebrate National Whiner’s Day.

Rev. Kevin Zabor­ney, in 1986, designated December 26 as National Whiner’s Day. Rev. Zabor­ney founded the Holiday in hopes of encouraging people to be thankful for what they have, rather than unhappy about what they don’t have.

But WE don’t have to follow those guidelines, DO we?

Each year, the most famous whiner(s) is announced, from nominations accepted through December 15. Lind­say Lohan won the dubious honor for 2010. The website for National Whiner’s Day states, “Lind­say Lohan has continued to whine about her circumstances and appears to people to be simply ‘missing the point’. Despite Ms. Lohan’s whining and lacking a need to accept responsibility for her issues, it is hoped she can benefit from her treatment and return as a better and more giving person.”

But you know what? The National Whiner’s Day site hasn’t been updated in two years, but its par­ent, the National Hug­ging Day site, is cur­rent. So what should we get from that – that hug­ging is bet­ter, more impor­tant, more VITAL than whin­ing? Who deter­mined THAT?!? What, we’re not good enough for your damned site?

Sug­ges­tions for Cel­e­brat­ing National Whiner’s Day:
  • Visit a shop­ping mall or retail store and watch peo­ple “whine” as they return and exchange their hol­i­day gifts (remem­ber, it’s not only the cus­tomers who whine).
  • Invite friends over, or plan a party, and call it a “Whine and Geeze” party! Serve non-alcoholic wine and cheese!
  • Again, invite friends to a National Whiner’s Day party. In order to get in, your friends need to bring one unwanted gift, wrapped, for a white ele­phant exchange.
  • Hold a whin­ing con­test at home or with friends, and invite a radio or tele­vi­sion sta­tion to broad­cast the event. Award the win­ner with a funny cer­tifi­cate or tro­phy. Make it more fun by scor­ing not only the whine qual­ity, by on the whin­ing itself. For exam­ple, “Ohh­hhh, mooomm. Do I havvvvve to cleeeeean my roooomm?”
Select Famous Celebrity Whin­ers over the last 20 years…
  • Kanye West
  • Chris Brown
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor
  • “Bagh­dad Bob,” for­mer Iraqi Infor­ma­tion Min­is­ter, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf.
  • Sen. Jesse Helms, R. N.C.
  • Tammy Faye Bakker (Mess­ner)
  • Den­nis Rod­man
  • Mike Tyson
  • Jerry Springer
  • Martha Stew­art
  • Ter­ror­ist Osama bin Laden-The Taliban/al-Qaida
  • John Rocker-Atlanta Braves Pitcher
The Most Famous Celebrity Whiner’s of the 20th Century
  • Stan Lau­rel
  • Curly Joe
  • Jerry Lewis
  • Lucy Ball
  • Pee Wee Her­man
  • Olive Oyle
  • Squiggy
  • Major Frank Burns
  • S.N.L. Whiner Fam­ily (Doug and Wendy Whiner)
Gift Sug­ges­tions:
  • Minia­ture vio­lin
  • Weep­ing wil­low tree
  • The Cry­ing Game video
Black Fri­day might be the day we all rush to the stores to grab every­thing we need to save any­thing we can. How­ever, National Whiner’s Day is a time to take back all our Christ­mas gifts that don’t fit, are the wrong color, looked bet­ter on the store dummy and we didn’t really want any­way. Today’s the day we can begin anew com­plain­ing and fuss­ing and whin­ing. Start now and avoid the rush!

Here’s a def­i­n­i­tion of ironic — our friend Carla here responded to a post about National Whiner’s Day with this lit­tle gem …

Carla says:

Decem­ber 26, 2011 at 7:43 am

So true. Whin­ing is the pits! It’s also St. Stephen’s Day and Box­ing Day. I’m bet­ting there’ll be more whin­ing going on in the US of A, though, than cel­e­brat­ing either one of those two! Would you believe a lot of the stores opened at 6am for returns? UGH!

Noth­ing like whin­ing about a post about whin­ing while con­demn­ing that whining!

We can be a nation of enti­tled whin­ers. “It’s too cold.” “I am the only one around here who does any­thing.” “I didn’t get what I wanted for Christ­mas.” “The gov­ern­ment is doing it to us again.” “Blah, blah, blah” or should I say “whine, whine, whine.”

You open the news­pa­per, you watch the news, you log-on to your social net­work­ing accounts and you are bom­barded by those around you who are whin­ing and complaining.

Def­i­n­i­tion of Whine: To com­plain or protest in a child­ish fash­ion.

Syn­onyms: com­plain, belly­ache, fuss, gripe, grum­ble, moan, groan, rant, bitch, snivel….

But what do you do when it is a co-worker or another adult who is whining?

Hunger, tired­ness, bore­dom and feel­ing unwell are fac­tors that can pre­cip­i­tate whin­ing ses­sions, but some have learned from a very early age that whin­ing gets them the atten­tion that they are seek­ing. Whin­ing has become sec­ond nature and their pre­dom­i­nant way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing. Their behav­iour is drain­ing on rela­tion­ships and it can poi­son a work­place, or it can improve our rela­tion­ships and our jobs — it all depends how you go about it.

Hot Tips for National Whiner’s Day:If we catch our­selves whining:
  • First, con­grat­u­late your­self. Very few peo­ple have the courage or the moral fiber to see what is truly wrong with the world and express it out loud.
  • Focus not on prob­lem solv­ing, but upon mak­ing every else feel mis­er­able. It is okay to vent, but that vent­ing must be fol­lowed by spread­ing nas­ti­ness and mood­i­ness, oth­er­wise it is just whin­ing for whining’s sake.
  • Try to see if any­thing in par­tic­u­lar sets off your whin­ing atti­tude. Are you fight­ing a cold? Sleep-deprived? Feel­ing unful­filled or under appre­ci­ated? Know­ing what sets your whin­ing in motion can help you to bring it on when­ever necessary.
  • Lis­ten to your own voice. Is this really the way you want oth­ers to hear you? Yes? Good.
If you are going to con­front a whiner:
  • Under­stand that they are look­ing for atten­tion, but give them atten­tion for solv­ing the issue, not for whin­ing about the issue. For the whin­ing part, just give points — a scale of 1–10 is recommended.
  • Ignor­ing them may not be a pro­duc­tive strat­egy as they may do more whin­ing or bring oth­ers into their whin­ing cir­cle in order to get their need for atten­tion met. You’ll end up los­ing the whin­ing cham­pi­onship that year.
  • Move them for­ward. Ask them what they are going to do about the issue and don’t let them get stuck just replay­ing and whin­ing about the sit­u­a­tion. Make them end their whine so that yours will shine!
  • Some­times in close rela­tion­ships, we can point out that the per­son is using their ‘whiny’ voice, but be care­ful, or you may quickly be faced with their angry voice. Or their angry 12-gauge shotgun.
  • Finally, min­i­mize the amount of time that you spend with the whiner. They will zap your energy if you aren’t care­ful, and you need to save that energy for your OWN whining.
Whin­ing is good for our health
Whin­ing is good for our health. Espe­cially when a prob­lem in one’s life is a recur­ring one – work, money, chil­dren, mar­riage, chronic ill­ness, aging, etc. – we need to com­plain about it out loud. The ques­tion is how to do this and keep our job and our friends.

The con­cept that whin­ing is good seems to fly in the face of all the pos­i­tive think­ing ide­ol­ogy. This is not true. One can have a pos­i­tive out­look on life and still whine. We just can­not “look at the bright side” of dis­as­ter all the time. We need to be able to com­plain – to get it out of our sys­tem so we can go back to liv­ing. Denial is quite detri­men­tal to our health.

Here are my five basic rules on the topic:
  1. Pick wisely to whom you whine and about what – some peo­ple can end­lessly lis­ten to your aches and pains, while oth­ers are good at fam­ily dynam­ics. Oth­ers just can’t lis­ten at all.
  2. Fig­ure out how much time you can get away with before you open your mouth – this is very impor­tant, so that you can whine with this per­son again. If you go on for­ever, you won’t get to do it again next week. I rec­om­mend get­ting an iPhone app to sched­ule your whines.
  3. Appear to change the topic of the whine – at least give it a new twist. This will throw off your lis­ten­ers — whin­ing jiu-jutsu!
  4. When whin­ing to same per­son, always make it seem like things have improved from the last whine. This will lull them into a false sense of secu­rity, and THAT is when you can drop the hammer.
  5. Most impor­tant: be open to humor. If the per­son to whom you are whin­ing knows that they can laugh, you’ll get more time and will be able to whine to them again. Always think of the future whines!
Know­ing how to whine and to whom you can whine safely is a very impor­tant thing, as being able to express our feel­ings and com­plaints openly is good for our health. Our prob­lems aren’t funny, but we do need humor – and other people – to survive them.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Holidays for December 25th 2013


Christmas Day

Many people in the United States celebrate Christmas Day on December 25. The day celebrates Jesus Christ's birth. It is often combined with customs from pre-Christian winter celebrations. Many people erect Christmas trees, decorate their homes, visit family or friends and exchange gifts.

People celebrate Christmas Day in many ways. In the days or even weeks before Christmas Day, many people decorate their homes and gardens with lights, Christmas trees and much more. It is common to organize a special meal, often consisting of turkey and a lot of other festive foods, for family or friends and exchange gifts with them. Children, in particular, often receive a lot of gifts from their parents and other relatives and the mythical figure Santa Claus. This has led to Christmas Day becoming an increasingly commercialized holiday, with a lot of families spending a large part of their income on gifts and food.

Many Sunday schools, churches and communities organize special events. These can include decorating the neighborhood or a shopping mall, putting up a Christmas tree and planning a Nativity display, concert or performance. A lot of plays and songs have a aspect of Christmas as a theme. Some groups arrange meals, shelter or charitable projects for people without a home or with very little money.

Government offices, organizations, businesses and schools are closed, almost without exception. Many people visit relatives or friends and are out of town. This may cause congestion on highways and at airports. Public transit systems do not run on their regular schedules. In general, public life closes down completely.

The original meaning of Christmas is a special church service, or mass, to celebrate the birth of Christ. The story of the Nativity, or the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, are particularly important in religious celebrations of Christmas. However, many traditions that are around today have their roots in pre-Christian winter festivals. These include the importance of candles and decorations made from evergreen bushes and tree, symbolizing everlasting light and life.

In Roman times, a mid-winter festival was held. This was a relaxing time with a lot of parties and merry making. It was also common to give other people small gifts, such as dolls for children and candles for adults. This festival culminated with the celebration of the winter solstice, which fell on December 25 in the Roman calendar. In Scandinavia, a festival called Yule and lasting up to twelve days was held in late December and early January. In this time people burnt logs and held parties. These customs have influences how Christmas Day is celebrated today in the United States.

The Bible does not give a precise date for the birth of Jesus. It is also unclear when December 25 became associated with the birth of Jesus, although it may have been around two hundred years after his birth. In the early centuries of Christianity, the anniversary of the birth of Jesus was not a cause for celebrations. The idea of turning this day into a celebration started in the early Middle Ages in Europe.

During Reformation and up until the middle of the 1800s, Christmas was often not celebrated because partying and merry making was seen as unchristian. From about 1840, celebrating Christmas became more widespread. December 25 was declared a federal holiday in the United States in 1870. Since then Christmas Day has become a steadily more important holiday.

A wide range of people and objects represent Christmas. These include baby Jesus, the Nativity and the Three Kings, but also Santa Claus, reindeer and elves. Common objects at this time of year are pine trees, holly, decorations, fairy lights, candles and presents. Christmas Day is now truly a mix of religious celebration and commercial interests.

National Pumpkin Pie Day

Today is a very, very special day. It's National Pumpkin Pie Day. It's one of America's favorite pies. Pumpkin pie is steeped in holiday tradition. The peak consumption period for pumpkin pie begins at the fall harvest, and lasts all the way through to the Christmas meal and dessert.

One might wonder why have National Pumpkin Pie Day on Christmas Day. Unfortunately, we have yet to find the creator of this day. So, the timing remains a mystery. However, we are thankful for this special recognition, and will certainly have a little pumpkin pie with our whipped cream today

Did you know? There are at least two Christmas songs that sing the tradition of eating pumpkin pie for the holidays. Those songs are Home for the Holidays and Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree.

Happy National Pumpkin Pie Day

A'phabet Day or No "L" Day

What an odd ho*iday to ce*ebrate on this Noë* Day. Today, December 25, is A’Phabet Day or No “*” Day. On this day we are to avoid the use of the *etter *. In all that we say and a** that we do, the *etter * is to be omitted. People are going to *ook odd doing this; it may prove to some that others are heavy into the a*coho* and are comp*ete *ushes. But as with all ho*idays, we are ob*igated to ce*ebrate each and every sing*e one of them and the *oopy ru*es that come with them. So no *’s on this Noë*. No clue as to why we are to do this.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holidays for December 24th 2013

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve in the United States, which is annually on December 24, is the day before Christmas Day. It falls within the Christmas season, which is a time for people to buy presents and visit friends or relatives.

Since Christmas Eve is not an official federal holiday, most people have to work. However, it is a partial day off or a full day off in some states. Many workplaces hold Christmas parties or celebrations, so there is a celebratory air to the day. People who work in the retail or catering sectors often have to work very hard to meet consumer demands on December 24.

Many people in the United States decorate their homes and driveways with seasonal decorations, although some do this much earlier, starting just after Thanksgiving Day in late November. The centerpiece of the decorations is often a Christmas tree decorated with fairy lights, tinsel, angels, stars and other seasonal ornaments. Outdoor light sculptures are also becoming increasingly popular. These are many light bulbs or LEDs in the form of trees, sleighs, reindeer, Santa Claus, snowmen and other seasonal figures. Light sculptures may be placed on driveways, roofs or in gardens.

In the evening, often just before bedtime, many families, particularly those with children, will hang up stockings on the fireplace or the end of their bed. These Christmas stockings are often red with a white fluffy trim, although they may be of any design and are often much bigger than the socks that they represent. Children hope that Santa Claus, a mythical figure thought to represent an ancient European saint, will enter their home via the chimney and fill their stocking with gifts, sweets and oranges.

Christmas Eve is not a federal holiday. However, it is a partial day off in states like Kansas, North Dakota, and Virginia. It is a state holiday in Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. Most schools and other educational institutions throughout the U.S. are usually closed on December 26. Many organizations will open as usual, but some may close earlier or offer reduced services. Stores are normally open as usual, but may shut earlier. Stores and malls are likely to be very busy, as people look for last minute Christmas gifts and stock up on food for the festive season.

Public transit systems may run a normal or reduced service, particularly in the evening. If you need to use public transit on Christmas Eve, is it a good idea to check the services that the appropriate companies offer carefully. Many people travel to visit family members or friends on Christmas Eve. There may be some congestion on roads and highways, particularly around major cities. Airports and long distance bus terminals may be especially busy.

Christmas Eve marks the start of the holiday season at the end of the year. For many Christians, it is a day to remember the events around the birth of Jesus. Some people, especially Roman Catholics, attend a midnight mass at church. Traditionally, the midnight mass started at midnight, just as Christmas Eve ended and Christmas Day started. However, now may churches hold this church service in the late afternoon or early evening of Christmas Eve.

Many Protestant churches also hold special services on Christmas Eve. These are often candle-lit and may be very solemn. Some include the presentation of a crib scene depicting the holy family, with statues or actors representing Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, the shepherds and various animals thought to be present in the stable where Jesus was born.

On Christmas Eve in 1914 and 1915, unofficial Christmas truces began in the World War I fighting. German soldiers lit candles and sung Christmas carols. On the other side, British troops responded by singing English carols. Soldiers from both sides shouted greeting and visited each other, sometimes exchanging small gifts. On Christmas Eve in 1968, the astronauts of Apollo 8 read from the creation story in the Book of Genesis. This was widely broadcast on television.

National Eggnog Day

This holiday is for enjoying the delicious traditional drink of the holidays called "Eggnog"! Remember this special drink holiday by getting out that punch bowl and stirring up some homemade Eggnog! Most households only make this yummy treat during the holiday season so call up all your friends and family and get ready to share this sweet egg & milk drink!

Eggnog (or egg nog) is a sweetened dairy-based beverage made with milk, cream, sugar, beaten eggs (which gives it a frothy texture), and flavored with ground cinnamon and nutmeg; alcoholic versions also exist with the addition of various liquors, such as rum, brandy, whisky, & sake.

Eggnog is a popular drink in North America, Central America and South America and is usually associated with winter celebrations such as Christmas and New Year. Eggnog has long been believed to be an excellent source of magnesium. Eggnog is also very popular in Central Europe, but only its cognac version, that can be bought almost everywhere, mostly in Christmas-markets, during November and December. Commercially, non-alcoholic eggnog is available around Christmas time and during the winter.

Modern eggnog typically consists of milk and eggs. Frequently cream is substituted for some portion of the milk to make a much richer drink. In some eggnog you can find Gelatin. Toppings may include vanilla, ice cream or whipped cream.

Eggnog can be produced from homemade recipes, however, ready-made eggnog containing alcohol and "just-add-alcohol" versions are available for purchase. Whiskey, rum, brandy, or cognac are often added. Since the 1960s, eggnog has often been served cold and without alcohol, both of which are significant departures from its historical origins. Low-fat eggnog is commercially available or it may be prepared in the home using skimmed or low-fat milk. In North America, a few soy-milk manufacturers, including the popular brand Silk, offer seasonally available, soy-based alternatives for vegans and those with dairy or milk allergies. Eggnog may be added as a flavoring to food or drinks such as coffee and tea. Eggnog-flavored ice cream, for example, is a seasonal product in the US.

Last-Minute Shopper's Day

Perhaps you enjoy the thrill of the hunt, or the bargains you'll find on overstocked shelves. Maybe you've been too busy to shop. Or maybe you just need to get out of the house. No matter the reason behind your procrastinating ways, you have an entire holiday dedicated just to you, and your fellow last-minute shoppers.

According to the National Retail Federation:
  • 10.9 percent of shoppers "will wait until the very last minute and finish their shopping on Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24" in 2011.
  • Shoppers were slower to complete their holiday shopping this year. By the second week of December the average shopper had "completed 46.5 percent of their shopping, less than the 49.5 percent the average person had completed by the same time" in 2010.
  • Young shoppers had the leg up on older shoppers, as the average 25-34 year-old had finished about 50.2 percent of their shopping -- the most of any age group" by the end of the second week of December.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holidays for December 23rd 2013


Festivus, a well-celebrated parody, has become a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 which serves as an alternative to participating in commercialism associated with Christmas. Originally a family tradition of scriptwriter Dan O'Keefe working on the American sitcom Seinfeld, the holiday entered popular culture after it was made the focus of a 1997 episode of the program. The holiday's celebration, as it was shown on Seinfeld, includes a Festivus dinner, an unadorned aluminum "Festivus pole," practices such as the "Airing of Grievances" and "Feats of Strength," and the labeling of easily explainable events as "Festivus miracles."

The episode refers to it as "a Festivus for the rest of us", referencing its non-commercial aspect. It has also been described as a "parody holiday festival" and as a form of playful consumer resistance.

Some atheists have advocated Festivus because of its lack of religious significance, and have erected "Festivus poles" alongside public displays of the crèche of Christmas and the menorah of Hanukkah in order to demonstrate their convictions.

Festivus was conceived by editor and author Daniel O'Keefe and was celebrated by his family as early as 1966. In the original O'Keefe tradition, the holiday would take place in response to family tension, "any time from December to May." The phrase "A Festivus for the rest of us" also derived from an O'Keefe family event, the death of Daniel O'Keefe's mother. In 1982 Daniel O'Keefe wrote a book, Stolen Lightning: The Social Theory of Magic, that deals with idiosyncratic ritual and its social significance, a theme relevant to Festivus tradition.

Although the first Festivus took place in February 1966, as a celebration of Daniel O'Keefe's first date with his future wife, Deborah, it is now celebrated on December 23, as depicted in a Seinfeld episode written by O'Keefe's son. According to O'Keefe, the name Festivus "just popped into my head".

National Pfeffernüsse Day

As fun to say as fluffernutter - December 23 is National Pfeffernüsse Day!

Chances are you recognize these little biscuits rolled in powdered sugar by sight, if not by name, and they are a Christmas treat to be sure.

The name may translate to "pepper nuts" in German, Dutch and Danish, but this holiday delicacy doesn't include black pepper. Rather, they are full of chopped almonds or walnuts, spices like cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and anise and then liberally coated with powdered sugar.

The dough is usually rolled into balls, and they are extremely hard the first week after they are made (the photo above is a good example of what they look like before they receive the powdered sugar treatment). Don't even try to bite into one without dunking it in coffee or a hot beverage to soften it up. Unlike most holiday cookies, these get better with time.

This delicacy is considered to be a kid's treat from Saint Nicholas during Christmas in Germany. Have your own Pfeffernüsse experience this holiday season, and relish the moment when biting into one unleashes a storm of powdered sugar all over your face.

National Roots Day

It's the holiday season and everyone is preparing their homes around the globe in celebration. Some are spending the holidays with their parents or grandparents, others with their adult children or grandchildren. There are all types of family styles now-a-days; from two parents, to a single parent, to adopted parents, to a family being sisters, brothers or husband and wife. No matter what the situation and what you call 'family', we all have our individual heritage. That is why annually the date of December 23 is set aside as National Roots Day in recognition of our family heritage.

That is why genealogy has become so popular in the last 40 years, people do like to know their background, how did their family get to a certain location, achieve what they did, etc. Many times these questions can be answered with some solid family history research. Even spending just a few hours might reveal some new information.

Once you really start investigating there can be all types of strange twists and turns that occurred to a family member that in turn might have changed the course of the future for the family. Those are the real mysteries or pieces of the puzzle that are fascinating to inquire about one's family.

Knowing more about your parents, grandparents, great aunt's lives, and learning how they conquered the unknown provides some real comfort to you. There is also the possibility of finding out you are distant relative of a celebrated or notable individual in history, which makes for a fun bit of family background.

Your family roots are all the ingredients that helped make you the person you are today. The classical example is if your great grandfather had not taken the chance to leave his European homeland and come to America, you just might still be a resident of an European nation, rather than the United States. Even better is when you discover an ancestor with a certain skill such as dance, playing an musical instrument, art work, mathematics, sports, etc., that have inherited. In a way that ancestor has immortality by you continuing in that same or similar activity.

Enjoy the search and be proud of your roots.