Today is Tuesday, December 24, 2013—Christmas Eve. If we were having a literal countdown of the “Twelve days of Christmas” song, we would receive “one partridge in a pear tree” today.
Christmas is tomorrow…
Here are some last-minute stocking-stuffer gift ideas:
Ear Warmers: 180’s Tahoe Komen Ear Warmers
Earrings: 14K Yellow Gold Ball Stud Earrings (4mm)
iPhone Case: OtterBox iPhone 5 Defender Series Case
Movie: Despicable Me 2 DVD
Slingshot: Flingshot Slingshot Flying Screaming Monkey
Tis almost the night before Christmas — but there’s still plenty of time to load up the DVD player or stream from Netflix. So make lovely adult beverages for you and yours, and mugs of hot cocoa for the kids.
I should also mention that I’ve never once been able to sit through all of It’s a Wonderful Life, so there’s a good chance I’m a terrible person with retrograde taste in holiday entertainment. So with that out of the way, let’s look at what we do watch every year here at Casa Verde.
Apparently there’s some kind of bitter feud amongst the Love Actually-haters and the Love Actually-lovers, but I’m here to resolve those differences by gently reminding you that the Love Actually-haters are possibly less than human, almost certainly dead inside, and at the very least are incapable of simple human emotion.
Here we have every love story crammed into one breezy and perfectly paced gem of a movie. There’s romantic love, new love, young love, lost love, love that bridges the language barrier, brotherly love, lustful love, the love between a sister and her institutionalized brother, and perhaps the most touching of all, the love between a step-father and the son he finds himself caring for alone. The scenes between Liam Neeson and young Thomas Sangster are by themselves worth the price of admission. And every Anglophile will love Rowan Atkinson’s two pitch-perfect cameos.
There’s some language and some comical nudity, so this one might not be for the kiddos — but prove to me you aren’t dead inside and learn to love Love Actually.
Today is Monday, December 23, 2013. If we were having a literal countdown of the “Twelve days of Christmas” song, we would receive “two turtle doves” today.
There are only two days until Christmas!
Here is a gift guide for the people on your list who love electronics and gadgets.
The best way to hear your music—without any interference.
Connect this handy speaker to your Bluetooth-enabled device whenever you want to listen to music–at home, at work, and even on the beach!
This camera’s 2.7-in LCD screen makes photo and video review/playback clear and easy.
GoPro: GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition
A tough, waterproof camera that allows even the most active owners to document their adventures.
Gadgets for the Car:
Belkin: 2-Port Car Charger with Lightning to USB Cable for iPhone 5/5S/iPod touch/iPod nano/iPad/iPad mini
This charger fits into any car power outlet and will charge two devices at once.
Garmin: Garmin Nüvi
Never get lost again.
Leapfrog: LeapPad2 Power Learning Tablet
Over 800+ games, videos, and eBooks that are appropriate for kids.
A durable case that will keep your S3 safe!
NIX Digital: 8 in Hi-Res Digital Photo Frame with Motion Sensor
All your photos in one place.
Today is Sunday, December 22, 2013. If we were having a literal countdown of the “Twelve days of Christmas” song, we would receive “three French hens” today.
There are only three days until Christmas!
Here is a gift guide for some of the book-lovers on your list:
Dewdney: Llama Llama and the Bully Goat
A book about identifying and forgiving bullies.
The classics you grew up with, all in one place. A great gift for kids and adults.
Another great book by Eric Carle—this one focuses on the power of friendship.
Your favorite little girls in two straight lines.
Perfect for kids who are stubborn when it comes to reading. These books are sure to get them reading—and laughing.
Montgomery: The Complete Anne of Green Gables Set
A must-read for young ladies. I cannot recommend these books enough.
James Herriot, a veterinary surgeon, writes about his animal adventures in Yorkshire England before, during, and after WWII. You’ll laugh, cry, and love these books.
A fresh, compelling twist on the popular “dystopia” theme.
Another thought-provoking book by Malcolm Gladwell.
A fascinating journey with teenager, Naoki, as he explains autism in his own words.
A touching book told from the canine perspective.
It’s not just for young adults–read the books that everyone is talking about.
Ambrose: Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normany to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest
An amazing story of American courage during WWII.
Hirsi Ali: Infidel
A gripping, eye-opening autobiography of a courageous woman who fought back against tradition.
“Are you a believer?”
If you asked me that question, my immediate response would be a resounding “yes.” I’ve been a “believer” since age 16. Although, I would have automatically assumed you were talking about believing in Christ.
But when a teacher recently asked her class of six year olds about their beliefs, she was definitely not talking about Christianity. It all started while reading a Christmas book aloud ; she posed the question of “believing” to the class.
Unfortunately, six-year-old Joy answered honestly: ”No.”
She explained that in her family they celebrate Jesus — Santa’s not real. The teacher immediately summoned the first grader for a private conference at her desk (in front of the entire class). There Joy was reprimanded and told it didn’t matter what was taught at home; there they believed in Santa.
Later that day Joy went home and told her mother, “I felt like I was going to cry. But it’s OK, I kept my smile on.”
An email soon went out to parents, presumably of both “believers and non-believers.”
Today is Saturday, December 21, 2013. If this were a literal countdown of the “Twelve days of Christmas” song, we would receive “four colly birds” today. (A “colly bird” is a common blackbird, FYI.)
There are only four days until Christmas! (You shopping procrastinators really better get a move on…)
Here is a gift guide for the interior decorators and home-goods lovers on your list:
Vase: Abbott Ceramic Owl Vase
A quirky but unique way to display flowers.
An elegant way for photo-lovers to display their precious pictures.
Art Glass: Galaxy Art Color Swirl Glass Vase
A beautiful piece that can be used as a vase or appreciated as art.
Candle Sticks: IMAX Kanan Wood Candleholders
These varied candlestick sets are all the rage. Versatile and easy to arrange and restyle for the seasons
Christmas Nativity Set: Willow Tree Nativity Set
Remind friends and family of the true meaning of Christmas. This elegant gift will soon become a favorite holiday decoration.
Blankets and Throws: Ultimate Sherpa Throw Blanket
Give the gift of toasty toes with this posh, sherpa throw.
Candle-holder: Moroccan Lantern Blue Glass Candle Holder
A unique gift for the candle-lover.
An empty canvas for savvy decorators. This jar can be used for practical means (kitchen dry goods) or as a container to display ornaments or other small goods throughout the house.
Casual Pillows: Ojia Cotton Linen Decorative Pillow Covers
Spread the love with these swappable pillow covers.
Fancy Pillows: DreamHome-100% Silk Designer Pillow Cover
Great for entertainers who like their couches to be as festive as the rest of their home.
Perfect for the wine connoisseur in your family.
Wine Glasses: Libbey Vina 12-piece stemless red and white wine glasses
A twist on the “wine glass.”
A snazzy, decorating essential for people who like to spice up their traditional china.
Classic Runner: Handmade Classic Hemstitch Natural Table Runner
Simple, classic, and perfect for everyday use or special events.
A great gift for the artsy home decorator.
Placemats: Reversible Hand-Stitched Organza Placemat
Perfect for those who love throwing formal dinners.
Napkin Rings: Round Mesh Napkin Rings
A little rustic, with a pinch of glam, these napkin rings are sure to be a great addition to any table.
Tablecloths: Roseberry Linen Concerto Spill-Proof Tablecloth
Yes, you read correctly. This tablecloth is spill-proof! Meticulous decorators won’t have to worry about pesky stains ruining their linen!
Today is Friday, December 20, 2013. If we were counting down the “Twelve days of Christmas” song, we would receive “five golden rings” today.
There are only five days until Christmas!
Here is a gift guide for some of the most creative people on your list!
Drawing Paper: Strathmore 400 Series Drawing Paper Pad
When creativity hits, you can never have enough of these pads.
Watercolor Paper: Strathmore 300 Series Watercolor Paper
Essential for any water-colorist.
Acrylic Paints: Golden Heavy Body Acrylic Introductory Set
I personally recommend these paints. They are a little pricey, but they are smooth and high-quality.
Great intro set for painters seeking to add dimension or texture to their work. I highly recommend these mediums.
A brush pack that is compatible with any type of paint.
Watercolor Pencils: Staedtler Karat Aquarell Premium Watercolor Pencils
A new twist on watercolors!
Essential Pattern Book: Complete Dictionary of Essential Stitch Patterns
400 patterns for advanced and beginner knitters.
Stitch Counter: Clover Knitting Stitch Counter
This gizmo will keep you on track.
Hat Pattern Book: 15 Animal Hat Patterns to Knit
Keep your head warm with a hand-knit hat!
Double-sided and suitable for all types of blades.
Cutting: OLFA Ergonomic Rotary Cutter
Equipped to handle your heavy-duty projects. It’s also suitable for both Left and Right-handed people.
220 wooden beads that are easy to string.
Beginning Sewing: Singer Beginners Sewing Kit
All the basics for sewing-newbies in one kit!
Spool-knit Animals: Colorbok Spool Knit Critters Kit
A cute and easy craft for kids.
Skrinky-Dinks: Do-it-Yourself Wear! Shrinky Dink Kit
Pre-cut shapes, magnets, colored pencils, and key-chains are all included in this fun, retro activity kit.
Sewing Craft: Creativity for Kids Sew a Sock Kitty
Great craft for young, beginner sewers. (Kit includes EVERYTHING you will need)
Today is Thursday, December 19, 2013. If this we were using the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song as a countdown, today we would receive “six geese a laying.”
There are only six days until Christmas!
Here is a gift guide for the precious nephews, nieces, sons, and daughters on your list.
Let babies explore colors, shapes, and sounds while bouncing
Story time: Goodnight Moon Book
A classic book that should grace every baby’s nursery shelf.
Bedtime: Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine
Soothe baby to sleep with 12 different sounds and a nightlight.
Scooter: Prince Lionheart Wheely Bug (Mouse)
An adorable array of animals that your toddler can easily ride.
A cute plush for Gru and Minion fans.
Spinning Fun: Playskool Sit ‘n Spin
Hours of spinning, whirling, and twirling.
Versatile Animals: Jungle Animals Set of 60
Great in the bath or “on land,” these toys are perfect for kids who love animals and using their imagination.
Treat your kid to a fleet of muscle and classic cars
Classic Dolls: American Girl Molly Doll and Paperback Book
One of the original, hit “American Girl Dolls,” Molly McIntire and her adventure books are sure to please any young lady.
Race Tracks: Hot Wheels Triple Track Twister Track Set
For the little speed demon in your family.
Building Blocks: LEGO Ultimate Building Set
Perfect for LEGO aficionados and newbies.
Barbie Dolls: Barbie 3-Story Dream Townhouse
If the kids on your list love Barbie, they’ll love this dream house (it even has an elevator!)
Model Building: K’NEX Classics 50 Model Building Set
Comes with 700 pieces and directions for 50 building ideas.
Bow and Arrow—with a Twist: Bow & Mallow Marshmallow Shooter
Wage battle with marshmallows! Kids (and adults) will love this gift.
Fruity Fun: Apples to Apples Party Box
If someone you know does not yet have this game, this is a “must” gift.
Candy lover: Candy Land—The Kingdom of Sweets Board Game
Who doesn’t love a good game of Candy Land?
Famished Animals: Hungry Hungry Hippos
Another must have game for the game closet.
Proclamations of an ongoing War on Christmas have become an integral yuletide tradition. Typically evoked by socially conservative culture warriors, the “War” has found a new home as a rhetorical device on the political left. Take a look at this Smithsonian blog post, “Six Ways Climate Change Is Waging a War On Christmas.” Daily Kos joins others in characterizing Republican opposition to extending unemployment benefits as the “real war on Christmas.” One thing seems assured. Regardless of how pundits characterize it, the War on Christmas wages on.
As a rhetorical device, the War on Christmas proves interchangeable between political competitors because Christmas itself overlaps political boundaries. It’s not as though Christmas serves as the exclusive domain of social conservatives. When lodged by the Right, complaints about a War on Christmas thus miss their intended point.
Crafting “A Short History of the War on Christmas,” Politico recalls one of Bill O’Reilly’s first characterizations of the conflict:
“Secular progressives realize,” O’Reilly continued, “that America as it is now will never approve of gay marriage, partial birth abortion, euthanasia, legalized drugs, income redistribution through taxation and many other progressive visions because of religious opposition. But if the secularists can destroy religion in the public arena, the brave new progressive world is a possibility. That’s what happened in Canada.”
That was nearly ten years ago, and much traction has been made on most of those issues by the Left. The question for conservatives is whether the rapid change we have witnessed in society is truly due to a persistent campaign against religion, or whether something else may be at work.
The answer lies in an examination of the controversial separation of church and state. Travel in conservative circles for long enough and you will eventually hear someone claim no such separation exists. The phrase cannot be found in the Constitution, folks point out. Therefore, the notion of such a separation proves to be a wholly made up leftist lie.
Today is Wednesday, December 18, 2013. If the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song was a countdown, today we would receive “seven swans a swimming.”
There are only seven days until Christmas!
Today’s gift guide is for the outdoorsman/woman in your life.
Classic Jacket for Him: North Face Apex Bionic Soft Shell Jacket
100% windproof, warm, but not bulky.
Cozy Jacket for Her: North Face Denali Fleece
A great fleece that will keep her warm with or without other layers.
Base Layer: Under Armour Infrared Hood
For the outdoor adventurer who likes to push the limits of frostbite.
The Hot Hot Headband: Knit Winter Headband Ear Warmer
These headbands are all the rage. They’re cute, come in many colors, and are a good alternative for hat-haters.
Smart and Warm Fingers: Isotoner Smartouch Matrix Glove
Keep fingers warm while using your Smartphone or tablet. (Here is the same gloves for manly man hands.)
Rainy Days, Warm Toes: Women’s Original Hunter Tall Welly Rubber Boot
Perfect for splashing in puddles or wading through winter slush.
Handy Bugs: Nite Ize BugLit LED light
A helpful critter to light even the most awkward spaces.
Hands-Free Illumination: Petzl Tikka Headlamp
Great for nighttime hikes.
DeFEETing Ice: Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats for Snow and Ice
Stay upright this winter.
A Raincoat for your Electronics: Waterproof Pouch Case for Smartphone
Keep your precious phone dry while out skiing, ice-fishing, or hiking.
Swiss-made: Victorinox Swiss Army Swiss Champ Pocket Knife
Walk on Snow: Tubb’s Men’s Wilderness Showshoe
Great snowshoes for both experienced and novice showshoers. (Women’s Tubbs can be found here)
Ammo Storage: Plano Ammo Can (Field Box)
House your ammo and/or gun accessories in one place.
Old-School Fun: Trumark Slingshot
Unexpected but sure to put a devilish smile on their face.
For the Good Ole’ H2O: Nalgene BPA Free Tritan Wide Mouth Water Bottle
Dishwasher safe. Suitable for both hot and cold liquids. Shatter Resistant.
Today is Tuesday, December 17, 2013. The reverse “Twelve Days of Christmas” countdown indicates that we would receive “eight maids a milking” today.
This means that there are only eight days until Christmas!
Today’s gift guide is for the people on your list who are so in love with preparing food and entertaining that their blender has a name. These gifts are sure to serve up some joy–as well as delicious dishes!
Scoop it: Le Creuset Silicone 7-Piece Utensil Set
Besides the ingredients and the will, every good chef needs the proper tools.
One can never have enough prep bowls. Joseph Joseph’s design allows all 9 pieces to be nested together for maximum use of space. The brightly colored bowls are also a fun addition to any kitchen.
Slice your ingredients ultra thin without cutting yourself.
(Don’t) Cut it: Cut Resistant Gloves (Level 5 Protection)
Keep your fingers safe while you chop.
From molten-brownie desserts to mini pot pies, you can’t go wrong with this set of bright, durable stoneware.
The infamous Le Creuset “dutch oven” is a kitchen classic and cookware essential.
Bake it: Doughmakers Grand Cookie Sheet
No burnt cookies! (I can say by experience that these really are the best.)
Read it: ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer
Pen-sized. Digital. Easy to read
Froth milk, beat eggs, and whip dressings and sauces galore!
Grill it: Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler
This compact, counter-top grill has five functions: contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, and half grill/half griddle. The plates are even dishwasher safe.
Keep your whisky cold in style!
Serve your guests martinis with a side of fun.
A quirky way to personalize your glass of wine.
“How to” Cocktails: Architecture of the Cocktail: Constructing the Perfect Cocktail from the Bottom Up
Impress your boss, friends, and family by making cocktails the RIGHT way.
A handsome way to carry your clandestine liquor.
Bottle Opener: Vertical Rabbit Lever Style Corkscrew with Foil Cutter
Opening wine has never been easier.
This espresso maker is compact and simple to use. The Nespresso brand also has a great “menu” of espressos to choose from that fit your machine.
Who can resist this adorable robot?
Today is Monday, December 16, 2013. If we were having a literal, backwards countdown of the “Twelve days of Christmas,” we would all receive “nine ladies dancing” today. Newsflash, there are only nine days until Christmas!
Shopping procrastinators, overwhelmed list-makers, and confused uncles and aunts, listen up. Although there is one fewer weekend in December this year, and Christmas shopping is sure to be even more hectic than usual, there is still a way to keep your sanity in tact!
Take back some Christmas peace and quiet and make your shopping painless. Here is a gift guide chock-full of holiday cheer and guaranteed smiles for some of the people on your list:
The Beauty Queen/Well-Groomed Man
For that person in your life who loves all things beauty and grooming—from head to toe!
For The Ladies:
Beauty aficionados know that beauty starts with healthy, glowing skin. (This is also a good gift for the males who love a deep clean, skin deep.)
High-end, high-pigment nail color that is sure to make their fingers and toes sparkle.
Make-up: Bare Minerals Starter Kit
Bare Minerals powder system has good coverage–but without the thick, goopy foundation mess. This is a good starter kit for those who are curious about the “mineral powder craze” or want to try something new!
So many color options, so few days of the week!
This stuff really is a miracle worker—smooth on wet or dry hair for a silky smooth finish and frizz control. (Also available for curly hair)
For The Gentlemen:
Shaving (Manual): The Art of Shaving Starter Kit
The lucky person on your list who receives this gift is sure to become addicted to the products. My male friends especially rave about the “sandalwood” scent kit.
Shaving (Electric): Philips Norelco SensoTouch 3D
This bad-boy came highly recommended by the gadget gurus.
Cleansing for the traveling man: Men’s Jack Black Cleansing System
All the essentials for face, hair, and body and it’s great for frequent travelers who need to take better care of themselves.
Men’s Face Mask: Baxter of California Clarifying Clay Face Mask
Purify and invigorate your mug. You can’t go wrong with Baxter of California.
Just received this morning from a reader via email:
Amid all the problems of the world in India and elsewhere:
Just in time for the holidays, Honda has a new ad trivializing rape for its commercial gain.
In the cartoon, two men are depicted lowers a restrained man, who takes the place of a angel to top a tree. One of two workers says, ‘we might have to twist him on.’
This is not only tasteless but entertains a culture of rape. Even the most radical feminist should stand against this, as women suffer disproportionately from acceptance of this culture.
Please help take a stand up against this by taking the lead and cover the story.
I am sure your viewers would applaud taking a stand against this.
What do you think? Should one “take a stand” against Honda’s PG-13 rated double entendre type joke in an effort to reduce rape?
My daughter hung our Christmas stockings on the mantle this week.
Sitting in the living room, watching the fire and enjoying its beauty made me rethink Christmas.
What is Christmas really about?
I know the right answer. The right answer is that it is about Luke 2:11, the birth of Christ.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
And yet, most will agree that December 25th is not the day of Jesus’ actual birth. When you take into consideration that it holds many pagan traditions, it draws lawsuits like bees to honey, and was almost trampled to death on Black Friday — it leaves precious little to embrace.
In spite of it all, it is a holiday that still holds deep meaning.
Years ago a Jewish girlfriend told me that they celebrated Christmas. Although they were capable of buying their children the best of everything this family had a strong work ethic and taught their children to work and save for what they wanted. “Christmas,” she confided “is the one day of the year I can spoil them. I can buy them the things I want to give them.” For their family, it had absolutely nothing to do with Christianity. However, they embraced the holiday to celebrate one another.
Before you head to the comments to accuse them of only using Christmas to indulge materialism, that’s not it at all. Face it, good parents want to give good gifts to their children. It’s just built into us. However, good parents don’t routinely indulge their own need to give. They understand the harm overindulgence brings. Christmas allows us to celebrate those we love through gifts both material and giving of ourselves.
When my daughters were little, and money was tight, I would buy them each a “Christmas dress.” They were usually collected throughout the year at garage sales. We would spend hours the night before putting their hair in curls. Then on Christmas Eve dress up in their pretty new dresses. Later that night they could unwrap “one” gift. The rule being, Mom picked which gift they could open. It was always a new pair of pajamas.
Truth is that both the Christmas dresses and new pajamas was all a set up. I was staging them for pictures then and in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, they loved getting all dressed up, and looked forward to the new PJs. But, for me it was all about creating and capturing the memories of their childhood.
It wasn’t long until they outgrew velvet and bows. So one day I tore all their Christmas dresses into shreds.
Some ideas trigger an intellectual gag reflex and leave your neurons gasping for reason. This image conveys one such idea.
Once you regain your composure, realize that this characterization says more about its leftist creator than it says about the Right. It’s because the cartoonist fixates upon the holdings of others that they project that fixation upon the Right.
Indeed, it’s the leftist who seeks to affect what everyone else owns, not the Right. It’s the leftist who presents a list of things others can’t have — large sodas, carbon-emitting vehicles, a healthcare plan they like, etc. It’s the Left that acts as Grinch, plundering in the guise of Santa.
Things went well at our house, where I cooked a turkey (see below) and three legs of lamb — though since the bad weather kept my brother’s family from making it, the third leg wasn’t really needed. (But it didn’t go to waste, either).
Chanukah, the eight-day Festival of Lights, starts this year on Wednesday evening, the only time it has ever just about coincided with Thanksgiving.
Chanukah, which celebrates the triumph of the few over the many, of light over darkness, goes back over two millennia to a time when Judea was under the rule of the Seleucid Empire. In 198 BCE the Seleucid King Antiochus III ousted the Egyptian ruler Ptolemy V from Judea. Antiochus III was a tolerant ruler who wanted the Jews to practice their religion as they saw fit.
His son and successor Antiochus IV, however, was a different story. In 168 BCE, under his reign, the Second Temple in Jerusalem—the focal point of Jewish worship—was looted, Jews were massacred, and Judaism was outlawed. In 167 BCE, Antiochus IV had an altar to Zeus built in the Temple, banned circumcision, and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the Temple’s altar.
It was what one might call a cultural genocide. Not an attempt at the wholesale destruction of the people themselves, but of their values, beliefs, and identity. According to Jewish tradition, it may have succeeded—without the revolt.
The revolt against Antiochus IV began that same year, 167 BCE, in the Judean foothills and was led by Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons John, Simon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah. The next year Mattathias died and his place was taken by Judah—Judah the Maccabee (“Hammer”). By 165 BCE the revolt had succeeded; the Maccabees and their followers had ousted the monarchy, liberated the Temple, and rededicated it to their God.
It was during this process that, according to the Talmud, the miracle of Chanukah occurred. The Maccabees discovered that almost all the ritual olive oil in the Temple had been contaminated; they found only one container with enough pure oil to keep the Temple’s menorah (candelabrum) lit for one day. But when they used it, it burned for eight days—enough to prepare more of the kosher oil. Jews have been lighting a menorah—or chanukiah as it’s now called in Israel—on Chanukah ever since.
According to Better Homes & Gardens, Thanksgiving is the number one holiday for wine sales. Following their list of recommended varietals, here are some New Jersey wine selections that should grace your Thanksgiving table this year.
For a fine Sparkling Wine, look no further than Valenzano Winery’s Cranpagne. The effervescence of this sparkling Jersey cranberry wine ushers in the holiday spirit like no other, making it the perfect sweet-tart traditional flavor to toast the autumn chill, fall foliage and hearts full of thanks.
If you love cranberry but aren’t as crazy about the bubbly, check out Sharrott Winery’s Cranberry Wine. Made from 100% New Jersey cranberries (think: Ocean Spray) this delightful elixir is the perfect compliment to your turkey-led feast. Leave the cranberry sauce for the kiddies and sip away at this bright red delight.
Red Wine drinkers will give thanks for two beautiful dry reds from Heritage Vineyards in Mullica Hill, NJ. A fruit farm that has been family owned since the Civil War, Heritage began wine making in the 1990′s and has cultivated a reputation as one of the Garden State’s best wineries. Their 2010 BDX Reserve, a Bordeaux-style blend of Cab Sav, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot aged in French oak, was the highest ranking Jersey red in the infamous Judgement of Princeton. Richly balanced, the 2011 version of the BDX will inspire many a good conversation at this year’s table. Prefer the spice of a Syrah? Heritage’s Estate Reserve 2010 Syrah is one of the most complex and balanced versions of the grape in the state. Both reds are round with a flavor that dances across the palate and promises to make a partner out of any holiday meal.
Who still shops at Kmart?
This advertisement is a pathetic cry for help. It’s even less effective than an 8 year old “acting out” to get his parents’ attention and then ending up with a time-out in the corner.
Kmart is the commercial version of that kid. Once the darling of the American family, it fell into obscurity after its bout with porn a couple of decades ago.
In the early 1990s, Kmart, through their Walden books stores, was one of the largest retailers of pornography in America. Kmart refused to take porn out of their bookstores. Walden then sued the American Family Association (AFA) for meddling in their backdoor profits. So AFA let the rest of us in on Kmart’s dirty little secret and called for a boycott.
It only took a few months for Kmart to feel the heat. By 1994, while Walmart and Target sales saw healthy gains, Kmart had suffered consistent and continuing profit decline and announced plans to close 110 stores.
This year a new boycott is being threatened after Kmart announced that its stores will remain open from 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving through Black Friday. The uproar is over the company’s apparent lack of concern for its employees’ ability to spend time with their families over the holidays.
Perverting Christmas by showing men tinkling their testicles in public is one thing, but perceived corporate greed is the unforgivable sin of our new Marxist economy.
Walt Disney World possesses its own brand of magic 365 days a year, but from early November to shortly after the New Year, the World becomes something much more magical as the whole resort takes on the air of Christmas.
The holidays really are a special time to visit Walt Disney World. Sure, prices go up during this “peak” season and at times the crowds go up just as much, but it’s worth the extra saving to be able to experience the parks and resorts in their full Christmas regalia.
At night, Cinderella Castle transforms into a wintry ice castle. Each park and resort boasts its own unique tree, and the decorations match the theme of each land and attraction. World of Disney in Downtown Disney is the perfect place for gift shopping, while at World Showcase in Epcot, each nation features storytellers who share that country’s holiday traditions.
Above everything else, five events and experiences stand out. These traditions make a November or December vacation to Walt Disney World one the whole family will remember forever.
The window candles are all in place. I love how their warm glow greets the dark, cool autumn air. The sound of cousins giggling is the current music playing throughout the house. The season of giving thanks and celebrating family and friends is in full swing at the Robinsons’.
The first wave of house guests arrived this week. Our daughter, along with three little grand-daughters, is visiting while their daddy is on a hunting trip.
Reminiscing, talk of creating new traditions, and plans for a dress-up tea party filled our first days together. It’s been mildly amusing over the years to watch my adult children’s early attempts at capturing the Christmas spirit those first years out on their own. At first, my oldest son Chris thought Christmas only resided at our house. So he hauled his new bride home to spend the night with us (on the couch) for Christmas. If the spirit of Christmas was in our home that year, it didn’t come within ten feet of that poor girl. That particular tradition didn’t seem to fit his family well–and died quickly.
Not willing to give up, a few years later he decided it was all about the tree.
So a new family tradition was in order, and they made an outing of the whole Christmas tree process. The best part of the afternoon was spent at a local tree farm searching for the perfect tree. They found it, the largest Christmas tree they could imagine.
Hot chocolate and Christmas music set the mood. The children learned to string popcorn while mom and dad decorated the giant tree. Then the unthinkable happened. Their beautiful fully decorated tree crashed to the floor. They all took it in stride… the first time.
The second time it hit the ground, there was little humor left. Once again the family made it whole again, then called it a night.
With everyone tuckered out, tucked in and sound asleep they heard a loud clatter. It was not the joyful sounds of reindeer hoofs, but you guessed it, falling timber and shattering glass.
[If you have a moment, please watch the wonderful three minute movie scene above through to the end.]
It always annoys me when a church waxes mealy-mouthed in celebration of the military. They do this, I know, because the church leaders think such celebrations detract from their aura of Christly peace. “We pray for those serving in the armed forces around the world,” goes one Episcopalian formulation — which is twice mealy-mouthed because it not only fails to pray for the right people, it’s fashioned to make you think that you ARE praying for the right people. You can tell yourself you’re praying for those serving in OUR armed forces around the world, but you’re not. You’re praying for the soldiers of North Korea too — and, Lord, if you’re listening, as far as I’m concerned, you can feel free to smite those sons of bitches at any time. Don’t hold back any smiting on my account.
Jesus blessed the peacemakers. In this fallen world, that sometimes means good guys with guns. Just as neighborhoods are safer where homeowners go armed, so the world is more peaceful where free nations maintain a strong military. I am aware every day — every day — that I read, write, love, pray and simply walk down the street — because there are those who risk their lives to protect me from the armies of the bad guys. If you think that detracts from my aura of Christly peace, so be it. Personally, I think it gives the aura a fresh layer of realism and honesty.
Love is not love that will not stand and fight.
God bless our veterans and those serving today. Just like the Man said.
As we take a too-infrequent moment to honor the service of our men and women in uniform this Veterans Day, let us consider our language and test whether it does them justice.
Commonly, we refer to the contribution made by those who serve in the military as a sacrifice. Our veterans have given up relatively comfortable alternatives to place themselves in harm’s way and protect our liberties. When we call that a sacrifice, we mean it honorably. Nevertheless, we may be selling our now and future veterans short by continuing to think of their choice in that way.
What is a sacrifice? It’s one of those words, like “love,” which has many nuanced meanings depending upon the context in which one uses it. For our purposes in this discussion, let’s settle upon this definition: a trade of value for something of lesser or no value. In order for something to be sacrificial, it must leave the giver worse off than they were before, right? How often do we lift up as virtue the notion of doing something for others without any expectation of receiving something in return?
Yet many of the things we commonly refer to as sacrifice do not fit that definition. When a college student passes on a night out with friends to stay in and study for a big test, he hardly ends up worse off for the trade. Yet, we call it a sacrifice. When a parent prioritizes the needs of their children above her own personal needs, she rarely thinks of the trade as a loss. Yet we think of that as sacrificial too.
In truth, many if not most of the things we call sacrifices actually stand as rational value judgments. Studying for an important test has greater value than a single night out on the town. Providing for one’s children has greater value than indulging yourself to their neglect. We make such choices in pursuit of our values, not at their expense.
The same applies to our men and women in uniform. Enlistment rationally values the nation’s security and individual liberties above mere safety. That is what makes it so honorable! That is why we stand in awe of our veterans and offer them our thanks, because the choice to protect what the rest of us take for granted declares something of their character. It tells us what they value, and how much they value it. I imagine few if any enlist hoping to lose life or limb as a “sacrifice.” Rather, they accept the risk to life and limb as an affirmation of that which they value — life in a free country. As the beneficiaries of that choice, we ought not diminish it by calling it a sacrifice.
The pilot father of a student who caused outrage by dressing up as the World Trade Center for a nightclub fancy dress competition has said he is ‘not happy at all’ about his daughter’s behaviour.
Amber Langford and Annie Collinge, both 19, won the contest and a £150 prize at a Chester nightclub despite lampooning the worst terrorist attack in modern history.
Miss Langford’s father Martin, who was flying in the U.S. at the time of the atrocity, said: ‘I didn’t know anything about it, but I’m not happy at all.
‘She knows I’m a pilot and that’s not cool at all. We will be having a little chat, I think.’
I know they are young and clueless but…come on.
Also, let’s give Halloween back to the little kids.