As close as we get to a holiday greeting
Good morning! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and all the wonderful holiday greetings we can possibly give away this morning. It’s December 24 and this is our holiday edition of 5 Things You Should Know. We won’t be doing one tomorrow. We’ll be taking time off to spend with our families and we hope you will be doing the same. We will be sharing some freshly edited photos both days, but we’re not going to spend the day chasing news unless something huge blows up.
In fact, we’re leaving things like the UN resolution against Israeli settlements and nuclear proliferation on the side this morning. It took some doing, but we dug around and were finally able to find five news stories this morning that don’t completely suck. We figured you could do with a little more positivity in your weekend. So, here are 5 Rather Cool Things You Should Know.
For the person who has everything
This has been a rough year on many different levels and that has put a strain on a lot of family relationships. Some voted for the president-elect, others didn’t, and now you have to figure out what to buy for that person with whom you have a philosophical difference of opinion. Here’s an idea that might work for you even at this last minute: give a donation to a non-profit in your family member’s name1. Business Insider and The Guardian are reporting that people are using non-profit donations either as “revenge” gifts for family members who voted Republican, or “love” gifts for those who voted Democrat.
How does that work? Let’s say you have a loud-mouthed Uncle who is a staunch supporter of the incoming administration. For him, you could make a donation to Planned Parenthood or the Southern Poverty Law Center in his name. Those are both organizations fighting against the biased rhetoric coming from the new administration and are there to help those affected by any new policies that endanger women and other marginalized people. The donation helps balance the scale and sends a subtle message to your uncle at the same time.
You can do the same for someone who agrees with your philosophical and political opinions as well, knowing they will appreciate the good done with your gift. This is also a really good last-minute gift idea for that person who always tries to return whatever you give them.
The name game
One of the joys of being with family over the holidays is getting to meet all the little new additions that have come along during the year. Nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and maybe even some great-grandchildren have been added to the mix and one of the greatest gifts of the holidays is having them all together.
The problem comes in trying to remember everyone’s name, and that isn’t helped by the fact that millennial parents are choosing very different names for their children2. Sometimes, especially in the US, the name sounds normal enough, but the spelling is unique, such as spelling Jaxson with an x. That makes it a little easier to remember the tot’s name, perhaps, but pretty much guarantees you’re going to get it wrong on the gift card. In the UK, double-barreled names such as Amelia-Rose or Audrey-Antoinette have become quite popular. Young parents everywhere want their children’s names to stand out from the crowd, as they hope the children themselves might one day do.
Of course, some people go overboard and then courts gets involved. Naming your child Nutella is illegal in France. Cyanide was outlawed in the UK. Then, there was the poor child in New Zealand who was placed under protective custody after her parents gave her the name ‘Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii’. A little common sense might be a good thing, don’t you think?
Starting New Traditions
Holiday traditions are a wonderful thing, but have you ever thought about where or why those traditions were started? Perhaps your family has a certain favorite dessert every year, or a requirement to wear your ugliest holiday sweater to the family gathering. Traditions have to start somewhere, though, and this might very well be the year you want to start a new one. In that case, we have a rather unusual suggestion that is likely to separate your family from everyone else: get naked together.
Hold on, we’re not talking about anything crazy or overtly sexual here. Rather, we’re thinking of doing something that has been a tradition in Finland, Holland, and Germany for a very long time: going to the sauna together3. This might seem a bit strange for Americans who are so very uptight with their body issues, but Finnish people especially have been going to the sauna together for years. In fact, co-workers are more likely to meet at the sauna after work than they would the local pub. Again, there’s absolutely nothing sexual about the routine. Rather, being naked together at the sauna is seen more as an equalizer.
Granted, this kind of a tradition might be a stretch if the only sauna in your town is a small room at the local fitness facility. This also may not be the best idea if someone in your family has an issue with frequent flatulence. Still, I think we would all get along much better if we stripped away some of the pretense that comes with wearing clothes. Being naked is good for the soul and after a year like this one we could all use the boost.
A walk in the park
There’s little doubt that we’re all going to need ways to de-stress over the coming year or four. One rather popular way of doing that is to take a walk through a park, somewhere nice and green where the kids can play and perhaps the family can have a picnic. Urban green areas are becoming increasingly popular, but actually finding the space for them can be challenging. The city of Dallas, Texas has found a solution, however, and is building what will soon be the largest urban green space in the country4.
Known as Harold Simmons Park, the space will incorporate over 10,000 acres of land once it is complete. Trails, bridges, a horse park, a golf course, and a community center are all included in the facilities. The city has already spent over $600 million on the project and private donations, such as the one given by Mr. Simmons’ widow, are helping to fund the remainder. When finished, the park will be 11-times larger than the nation’s current leader: New York’s Central Park.
There is one catch, however. Much of the land designated for the park is in a flood zone. When it rains, large portions of the land can be underwater rather quickly. Fortunately, Architects have planned for this, being sure to put resources such as playgrounds on higher elevations and providing bridges so pedestrians can easily cross wet areas without getting soaked. Located near the center of the city, officials in Dallas hope the park will be a way to bring unity to the sprawling metropolis.
And finally …
If you are blessed with one of those dear little OCD children who obsesses over every possible detail about Santa Claus and his annual toy delivery, you can assure them that the old man checked out fine and was able to renew his pilot’s license without any difficulty5. The Canadian department of transportation, which is the closest legal authority to Mr. Claus’ residence at the North Pole, released both a statement and even a video this week, certifying that yes, Virginia, Santa is good to fly tonight. He passed his vision screening and drug tests with flying colors.
Transportation Minister Marc Garneau, who himself is a former astronaut, warned Santa that his blood sugar is a little high, though. So, maybe one should be careful to leave cookies that don’t have the super-heaving icing on them. Maybe go with a nice oatmeal-chocolate chip recipe instead. Here’s the video:
All that being said, it is Christmas Eve and Santa’s already delivering presents to boys and girls down in New Zealand and Australia. So, it’s time to step away from the computer and get all those last minute details sewn up so that we can all be in bed dreaming of sugar plums when Santa arrives. We wish you all a joyous and happy holiday weekend. We’ll be back on Monday to pick up the wrapping paper and take out the trash.