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Category Archives: Merry Miscellaneous

Think Thankful Thoughts This Christmas

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Photo Credit: Caitlyn Regan. License: CC BY 2.0

It’s Christmas Eve, and we couldn’t be more excited! The day we’ve been anticipating all year is almost here! I’m sure tomorrow morning you all will be thrilled to see what prezzies Santa brought for you and your family. After the wrapping paper settles and your gifts are stacked in glorious piles, consider taking a moment to reflect on all that you have to be grateful for.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
–William Arthur Ward

And I don’t mean the presents that you’ve unwrapped (although, certainly be grateful for those, too!), but rather the intangible things and the “small” things that we can often take for granted. This includes things such as expressing love and appreciation to your family or acknowledging the support of a special friend.

“Keep your eyes open and try to catch people in your company doing something right, then praise them for it.”
–Tom Hopkins

I have heard of gratitude being compared to a muscle. When not used often, it’s weak, and it might feel a bit awkward when you try to use it. But when exercised, it grows, and over time it becomes easier to flex that gratitude bicep. Plus, when we become more grateful for what we already have (or for people as they already are), we also become happier and have more joy!

“In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”
–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

All this talk about gratitude makes me want to start a gratitude journal—or better yet, I’m thinking I might write Christmas or New Year’s gratitude notes. Are you feeling inspired, too? I hope so, but if you still need a little nudge, here are a few prompts to get your gratitude juices flowing:

  • Reflect on the past year’s events. Does anyone come to mind? Is there a friend or mentor who has been there for you during a tough time?
  • Think back over this past month. Has a friend or neighbor extended a helping hand this holiday season?
  • Consider this past week. Has your significant other or a coworker been especially supportive as the holiday week mounts?
  • Write a thank you card, leave a note on a chalkboard, or send a text message and let someone know how much they mean to you.

Do you have any other suggestions for spreading gratitude? Let us know in the comments below!

Take a Moment to Paws This Holiday Season

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The holiday season is always so fun, but it can also be stressful, especially if you are travelling. Well, I have some good news… If you live in the USA and are flying today, you may come across some furry friends at the airport! United Paws—a program from United Airlines designed to delight customers—will once again be bringing professionally trained comfort dogs to airports. United added more airports to the list this year, and doggies will be at Chicago-O’Hare, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, and Washington-Dulles. Puppies at the airport!? That would certainly delight this airline customer!

This video is from earlier in the week, hence why it says “tomorrow.”

Not only are dogs adorable, but science shows that petting a dog is actually good for you. Veterinary Consultant Dr. Walter Woolf said, “United Paws is a wonderful program that comes at just the right time for some holiday travelers who may be experiencing a bit of anxiety or stress… Research shows that just petting a dog releases oxytocin, the hormone associated with bonding and affection, and also decreases levels of stress, helps us breathe easier, and lowers our blood pressure.” I have a basset hound myself, and I can personally attest to the fact that being around a dog definitely makes you feel better :D This news clip shows that other travellers agree:

So if you are flying out of or have a layover in ORD, CLE, DEN, IAH, LAX, EWR, or IAD today, de-stress before take-off by petting a four-legged pal. Maybe you’ll even get a smooch from a sweet pup!

And if this act of holiday kindness wasn’t enough, United Airlines is also holding a contest where the winner will receive two round trip tickets. To enter, share a photo on Instagram or Twitter of your dog with a United Airlines logo or in a travel setting, tag @United, and include the hashtags #UnitedPaws and #UnitedContest. For every picture that is shared, United will donate $1 to support therapy dog organizations. [See official rules here.]

Dogs, air travel, and Christmas cheer… three of my favourite things combined into one holiday happening! :D

Rare Full Moon on Christmas Morning

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Full Moon on Christmas Morning 2015
Photo Credit: NASA/Goddard/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Many of you might be sleeping at 6am on Christmas morning, but the rare full moon is a good reason to get up early… even if you go right back to bed for a few hours. ;) It’s been 38 years since the full moon occurred on Christmas day, and NASA predicts this won’t happen again until 2034.

The moon will reach its peak at 6:11am ET. Whether you crawl out of bed early Christmas morning or try to catch a glimpse of it before you snuggle under your covers on Christmas Eve, make plans to see the full moon. So, go ahead and mark your calendars or set a reminder in your phone so you don’t miss this extraordinary event!

Frozen Festiveness

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I’m a huge fan of Disney’s animated films, and even though I’m not a child anymore, it doesn’t stop me from enjoying movies like Frozen. The chipper tunes and clever lyrics especially bring a smile to my face! (And I’ve been known to belt out some songs, too. I’m not the only one, am I? ;) ) If you share my affection for the story of Anna and Elsa, I’m sure you too will love these videos of Christmas lights synced to Frozen songs.


What’s your favorite Frozen song? Let us know in the comments!

So Many Ways to Drink Hot Chocolate!

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I’m sure someone somewhere has already said this, but I declare hot chocolate the official beverage of Christmas! Perhaps you like a good ol’ plain cup of hot cocoa… There’s nothing wrong with that, but I often want to snazz things up a bit and treat my taste buds to a sweet mouth-watering treat. This handy infographic is a quick-reference guide for custom cocoa creations. Enjoy!

SO MANY Ways to Drink Hot Chocolate!
Click on the image for a closer look! Infographic via SheKnows.com

Do you have a yummy recipe that’s not on the list? Let us know in the comments below or add your special recipe to Mrs. Claus’ Cookbook!

Iceland’s Annual Book Flood

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Iceland
Photo Credit: NASA. Public Domain.

Home of geothermal spas, beautiful & unique landscapes, skyr, Jökulsárlón, and much more, Iceland is a magical place and one of my absolute favourite countries. And just recently I learned about one of their Christmas traditions that made me fall in love with this Nordic nation even more.

In Iceland the majority of books [up to 80 percent!] are released and purchased during the months leading up to the holidays, a tradition that is called Jólabókaflóð—the “Christmas Book Flood.”

Jólabókaflóð
Photo Credit: Unsplash. License: CC0 1.0.

At the beginning of the flood, Bókatíðindi arrives in every Icelander’s mailbox; this catalogue lists all of the new publications for the year. Folks peruse the catalogue, deciding what they are going to buy as gifts and what they themselves would enjoy receiving, as books are wildly popular Christmas presents in Iceland. Not only that, but after exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve, quite often people will then spend the rest of the evening reading their new books and eating chocolate.

You know the emoji with hearts for eyes? That’s me when I think about books [okay, I'll admit… AND chocolate], so this is definitely a Christmas tradition I would enjoy!

Jólabókaflóð
Photo Credit: Dariusz Sankowski. License: CC0 1.0.

For more information about Jólabókaflóð, check out this article from The Reykjavík Grapevine.

Monday Merriness

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There are only 11 days until Christmas now—woo hoo! I hope that your week is off to an excellent start, but in case your Monday needs a dose of holiday cheer, check out the adorable videos below. They will surely put a smile on your face and some festive feelings in your heart :D

Tips to Keep You Safe This Holiday Season

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We’re almost half-way through December, can you believe it? By now I bet most of you have already put up your Christmas trees, which is why I thought it would be the perfect time to remind everyone of some general safety tips. The infographic below contains lots of handy tips to keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s way this holiday season.

Tips to Keep You Safe This Holiday Season
Click on the image for a closer look! Infographic via visual.ly

Send Sa’fyre a Christmas Card

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During the holiday season when so many of us are surrounded by family, it’s good to remember that not everyone is so lucky. Two years ago eight-year-old Sa’fyre was the sole survivor in an arson attack that killed the rest of her immediate family. Since surviving the fire, she has undergone countless surgeries, but—according to this Redbook article—Sa’fyre’s aunt says “She is the bravest, most courageous little girl you will ever meet. She is funny and witty, sweet and caring, and super strong… She wakes every morning with a smile on her face. She is the true definition of hope, faith and love.”​ It’s so inspiring that Sa’fyre has stayed so positive, despite everything that she’s been through!

Photo Credit: Sa’fyre Schenectady’s Super Survivor Facebook Page

Now we all have the chance to do something that will only take a moment, but will make Sa’fyre’s Christmas a little merrier. She would love to receive holiday cards from folks all around the world, and if this video is any indication, Sa’fyre has already received quite a number of cards!

But I think we can all help Sa’fyre’s pile of cards grow! Pop over to the store to pick up a card or dig through your stash of extra Christmas cards [I'm not the only one with a card stash, right?] and send a card to Sa’fyre today to help her have a very merry Christmas:

Sa’fyre
P.O. Box 6126
Schenectady, NY 12306
USA

Your Guide to a Uniquely British Christmas

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Each country has their own special holiday traditions, and England is certainly no exception. While some of their customs—such as sending Christmas cards and decorating the tree—are practiced in other countries, some are decidedly British. To learn more about mince pies, Christmas crackers, and Boxing Day, check out the infographic below!
Your Guide to a Uniquely British Christmas

Click on the image for a closer look! Infographic via Londontopia.net
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