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Not My President? Yes, Trump is every American’s president

It’s Presidents’ Day in the United States of America and what better way to celebrate than to demonstrate the hypocrisy of democracy?

Thousands of Americans are expected to take to the streets to protest America’s current sitting president, one Donald Trump.

That’s fine. I don’t have any problem with Americans exercising a freedom granted them by our Founding Fathers.

I do have a problem with the #NotMyPresident movement, though.

For any American out there who utters the phrase, “not my president”, or uses the hashtag #NotMyPresident, you are incorrect, and likely a hypocrite.

You are incorrect because you do not get to choose your president.

You are allowed to cast a vote for the man or woman you want to serve as your president, but the Electoral College ultimately determines who your president is, based on a collection of votes from every American who casts one.

Thus, you are likely a hypocrite because you celebrate the idea of democracy, exercise the freedoms given to you by our Constitution, and are supposedly fighting for the rights of every American…

…and yet you ignore the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump.

(Yes, Hillary Clinton received more votes, but if you want to argue that the popular vote should be the deciding factor in an election, that’s a separate argument for another day)

The point is, an election was held and your candidate lost. Don’t be a first-grader who runs inside and cries because the result didn’t go your way.

Like it or not, Trump was sworn in on January 20, 2017, and he is the President of the United States, and your president, too — assuming you are a legal American.

If you are not a legal American, you can be expecting a knock on your door soon as the Department of Homeland Security carries out its operation to crack down on illegal aliens.

So, go ahead and walk around and proclaim that Trump is not your president. I’ve got news for you, though … he is. And he will continue to be your president until you leave the country and become a citizen elsewhere, or until the next democratic general election in 2020 when you get another chance to vote him out of office.

New Year’s Resolutions: Ideas and goals for a brand new year

What are you doing New Year’s Eve? Are you out ringing in a brand new year, or furiously brainstorming New Year’s resolutions?

We’ve all been there before. The champagne corks pop, the calendar page turns, and we all begin a sobering period of self-assessment. For whatever reason, we realize we don’t like what we see and we are determined — or resolute — to make changes.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

We set out to fix these “defects” in our life and make bold plans to do it. We set lofty goals that seem reasonable in the moment but are often way unattainable or, at the very least, are destined to take longer than we expect them to do. We spend big money on gym memberships, fitness equipment, or food for fad diets, figuring it’s a worthwhile investment to help us achieve our goals. We then hit the ground running and give our New Year’s resolutions the best effort we think we can give, even getting a momentary high from the initial progress.

Then life happens, and our resolutions are over as quickly as we conceived them.

Why is it that our New Year’s resolutions fail? Is it because they are bad ideas and goals, or is it because what seemed important to us in the moment doesn’t carry as much weight later? Are these goals too difficult to achieve? Or do we just leave them by the wayside because we have higher priorities in life?

New Year’s resolutions come in abundance and span a variety of topics, including altering one’s body image, changing a profession, improving fortunes and finances, and modifying unwanted behaviors and habits.

Although resolutions have a tendency to fail, that doesn’t mean we have to avoid them altogether. Here’s a list resolution ideas — some lofty and others much more achievable — to help you ring in a brand new year on a good note.

Spirituality

  1. Go to church: Make an effort to attend church regularly. Not only does it help your spiritual health, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to commune with your brothers and sisters while praising God.
  2. Read the bible: The book may seem daunting, but if you break it down into small sections — perhaps less than a chapter a day — you can really stick with it.
  3. Pray: Prayer is a powerful thing. The beauty is that you can do this anywhere and at any time. Offer up a prayer of thanks or request in the morning in bed, while getting ready, during your commute, at lunch, or any other time during the day.
  4. Forgive: “To err is human, to forgive divine,” said Alexander Pope. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do but is one of the most liberating. It frees us of a particular burden and allows us to live as God intended.
  5. Give more: Make every effort to give more in the coming year. Give your time, give your money, give your advice and experience.
  6. Find contentment: There is great happiness in contentment. Live each day with peace in, and appreciate for, what you have in your life. And don’t waste time comparing your fortunes to that of others.
  7. Donate anonymously: God loves a cheerful giver, thus, you should give because you want to, not out of a sense of obligation. There’s no greater way to exemplify joyous giving than to do it without recognition or return.
  8. Give up social media for Lent: Looking for something to give up for Lent this year? Abstain from social media for 40 days.
  9. Start a pay-it-forward line at the drive-thru: Have you ever driven to the drive-thru window to learn that somebody else paid for your order? It’s a wonderful thing. Start the pay-it-forward chain next time you go through a drive-thru.
  10. Walk away from gossip: To engage in gossip is sinful and, quite frankly, weak. Run from gossip and do not engage in it.
  11. Dare to intervene in gossip: For the more brave, rather than run from gossip, step in and intervene on the behalf of the one who is being talked about.
  12. Volunteer: Time is our most valuable resource and there are fewer greater gifts in life than giving your time to others in need.

Mental Health

  1. Read daily: Reading keeps your mind sharp and is one of the lost forms of entertainment in our society.
  2. Reduce stress: Stress eats away at your happiness — and your innards, too — and you need to avoid the people, places, and activities that cause stress, if feasible.
  3. Find out why: When you learn something new, don’t just leave it at that. Ask follow-up questions to figure out why something is the way it is.
  4. Ask yourself if it could be worse: Do you have something heavy weighing on your mind? When you’re feeling that stress, use logic to combat it, and realize things could always be worse.
  5. Read a book per month: Some people are fast readers and others are not. For the latter of you out there, just make it a goal to read one book per month.
  6. Read the newspaper more often: Buy — or subscribe to — the newspaper! The industry could use the support, but you can also keep informed on the latest happenings.
  7. Do crossword puzzles: The brain is like a muscle that needs to be exercised. Work it out by solving crossword puzzles.
  8. Answer trivia questions: Similar to crossword puzzles, trivia questions can keep your mind sharp.
  9. Take naps: If it’s possible for you to do so, resolve to take quick power naps. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed with a clearer mind.
  10. Ponder, and answer, thought-provoking questions: Pick up a book, or find sites online, that offer thought-provoking, challenging questions. Give deep, intentional thought to how you would respond.

Emotional Health

  1. Accept help: People don’t like to accept help, for fear of showing weakness or being proven wrong. Don’t be afraid to fix a problem with someone else’s advice.
  2. Become self-reliant: Being too dependent on others stunts growth. Make it a point to learn how to do things you had previously gone to others to fulfill.
  3. Learn to let go: Are you still holding on to something hurtful or painful? Being able to say, “It happened, but it can’t hold me down,” is healthy.
  4. Confront a fear: Don’t let fear hold you back from living free. Be bold and confront your fears.
  5. Smile more: Smiling serves a dual purpose: it’s impossible to genuinely smile and be in a bad mood, plus a smile can legitimately make someone else’s day.
  6. Spend less time in front of mirrors: We are a vain society that spends too much time in front of mirrors. Fix yourself up during the morning, and then get away from the mirror.
  7. Worry less: The great philosopher, Van Wilder, once said: “Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere.” Learn from him.
  8. Share your problems: One of my favorite life quotes is, “A problem shared is a problem halved.” Tell your loved ones your problems and you’ll immediately feel less burden.
  9. Find at least one positive in every day: When night falls, spend ten minutes thinking about your day. Not only will the meditation and reflection free your mind, but it will help you recall something positive from the day.
  10. Do more of what you enjoy: As long as other priorities are being met, don’t be afraid to schedule a little more time to do what you enjoy.
  11. Spend one night a week writing down what you are thankful for: Everybody has something to be thankful for — for even life is a gift. I’m sure you can find more if you give it thought.
  12. Remove all grudges: A grudge is a terrible burden to carry, and it certainly doesn’t help to do so. Just let it go.
  13. Clean up: There is a correlation between home tidiness and happiness. Take some time to keep your house in order.

Physical Health

  1. Move: You don’t have to get up and run a mile. Just move. Every ten to fifteen minutes, get up and walk around. It helps your body’s structure and your fitness.
  2. Get better rest: Everybody needs a good night’s sleep. Give yourself the gift of an earlier bedtime, even if it’s a half hour.
  3. Exercise 30 minutes a day: Grab your favorite TV show on DVD, pop it into the player, and do something aerobic during the duration of the show.
  4. Train for a 5k: If you have some level of physical activity but want to do more, get out there and train for a 5k run.
  5. Walk incrementally: When you’re starting something new, don’t shoot for the gold right away. Start by walking around your block. Then increase it by a few feet every day.
  6. Buy fitness bands: Resistance training is one of the best ways to strengthen and tone muscles, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to do it. Buy elastic bands and pull til your muscles give out.
  7. Make more trips to the park: Walk to your nearby park and rollerblade, play basketball, hit the tennis court, or do any number of physical activities.
  8. Take the stairs: Do you live or work in a building with an elavator? What are you doing using it? Hit the stairs and get some hidden exercise.
  9. Park at the back of parking lots: Not only does parking at the back of a lot give you exercise but it frees up a closer spot for somebody who might actually need it.
  10. Walk or ride a bike instead of driving: This is one of the most common resolutions but it often fails. Resolve to walk or ride a bike to nearby locations, if only once a week.
  11. Work on oral hygiene: Nobody likes a dirty mouth. Try brushing after every meal, not just in the morning or at night. And use the dreaded floss and mouthwash, too.
  12. Wash – and sanitize – your hands more often: Americans have a disgusting habit of not washing their hands after going to the bathroom. Blah. How about you start doing that, but also doing it sporadically throughout the day?
  13. Walk your – or another person’s – dog regularly: Your dog has a New Year’s resolution to walk more … why don’t you help him or her achieve that?

Nutrition

  1. Eat less carbs, fat, and calories: What is the proper balance of carbs and fat? I don’t know, and I’m not sure experts do, either. But if you eat less calories from healthy foods, you’ll likely lower both.
  2. Eat more protein: Protein is a powerful thing. It helps muscle growth and also makes you feel more full, thus stopping you from snacking.
  3. Limit portion sizes: Large portions is one of the greatest offenders of obesity in our country. Eat off smaller plates and keep it to one serving.
  4. Drink moderately: If you like to drink alcohol, you might want to consider cutting back. Drinking slower and allowing more time in between sips will help.
  5. Eliminate snacks: Snacking is a big problem, especially if you indulge in unhealthy treats. Instead of three big meals plus snacks, eat several small meals throughout the day.
  6. Drink more water: Drinking plenty of water is essential to good health. A tip would be to buy a 24 ounce (or larger) water bottle, and make sure you fill it three or four times.
  7. Stop or limit soda intake: Soda, both regular and diet, is bad for you. The sugar and carbonation alone causes bloating. Try cutting back 50% of what you normally drink.
  8. Cut out fast food: No offense to anyone who likes it, but just the thought of fast food makes my insides churn. It’s so unhealthy per portion. Think hard about seriously reducing your intake.
  9. Seek healthier dessert substitutes: Instead of ice cream, cakes and cookies, try Jell-O, pudding, whipped cream, popsicles and other healthier alternatives.
  10. Don’t finish eating the whole thing: As previously mentioned, portion sizes are much too large. Make it a priority to be conscious about how much you eat and don’t completely empty your plate. Eat leftovers or give it to the homeless.
  11. Stop eating three hours before bedtime: It’s not healthy for food to sit in your gut right at bedtime. Your metabolism slows down. Keep an eye on the clock before you eat late.
  12. Eat more fruits and vegetables: Tell yourself you’re going to eat at least one fruit or vegetable per day (if you’re not already eating them). Then, slowly increase intake.
  13. Limit processed, packaged food: Foods that are processed and packaged are much more unhealthy than fresh, organic stuff.
  14. Cut down on caffeine: I’ve learned from personal experience how bad caffeine can be. Try to keep your coffee and soda intake to one serving per day.
  15. Arrange your entire day’s food the night before: Not only is this a good production goal to have, but by laying out your food, it helps stop you from habitually stuffing your face out of boredom or mood swings.
  16. Eat more low sodium foods: Sodium leaves you feeling sluggish and makes you retain more water and raise your blood pressure, straining organs in your body.

Learning

  1. Learn how to fix something: One of the great feelings in life is fixing something yourself. Instead of always relying on others to fix things for you, use Google and YouTube to learn how to do it.
  2. Journal daily or weekly: Getting your thoughts out on paper is a great way to grow. Try starting slow, but set a reminder for yourself so you don’t forget.
  3. Start a blog: I started my blog because I had thoughts in my head that I wanted to share. But at the same time, I’m also learning new things as I prepare to write.
  4. Learn to cook or bake: Make an effort to learn how to cook or bake something new each month. Your culinary skills will be honed in a year.
  5. Learn to play an instrument: One of the greatest gifts in life is making music. The feeling one gets in entertaining others with an instrument will give you a natural high.
  6. Ask questions: Asking questions is the best way to learn things. Make it a priority to ask one question per day with the intent to learn something new.
  7. Observe human behavior: Take your mobile phone or a pad of paper with you and walk to a place where there is a lot of foot traffic. Observe human behavior and jot notes about people. You’d be surprised by what you discover.
  8. Analyze friends’ strengths and weaknesses: Do you have a friend who is successful? Analyze what he or she does to get that way. Conversely, is there a friend who always messes up? Learn from their mistakes.
  9. Become an expert at something: Do you need to go to school to become an expert at something? No. You just need knowledge and experience. Pick a topic that interests you, read one book per month on that topic, and engage in regular conversation. Expertise is just on the horizon!
  10. Take a local class: There are a lot of free or inexpensive classes offered in your local community. Log online to the city’s website and see what is offered.
  11. Look up new information daily: Everybody hears at least one thing daily that either piques their interest, confuses them, or completely goes over their head. When this happens, log on to Wikipedia, Google articles about it, or ask somebody close to you for more information.
  12. Learn something from your failures: Nobody likes to fail, but the bigger crime is to fail without learning something. When you fail at something, make it a priority to find out why that was. Ask others for assistance, if need be.
  13. Learn – and memorize – a joke every month: Everybody likes a joke teller. Learn and memorize a new joke each month. If your memory can retain more, go for it!
  14. Learn a new word every day: Expand your vocabulary by learning a new word — and then putting it into use — every day.
  15. Learn a new language: For the more ambitious out there, pick up a second language. It’s romantic, helpful in many jobs, and good for traveling.

New Opportunities

  1. Eat something new: Are you a picky eater? Don’t worry, I was too. Then, I just hit a point in my life where I made myself try new foods. It has paid off!
  2. Say Yes: Just like Jim Carrey in Yes Man, learn to say “yes” to opportunities that arise that you normally would refuse. A whole new world of experiences will open up to you.
  3. Do the opposite: Do you remember when George Costanza did the opposite of what felt normal to him, and his fortunes began to change? Give it a try; you never know what’ll happen.
  4. Do something out of your comfort zone: Go camping, do something adventurous, give a public speech, try playing extreme sports. Resolve to do something that isn’t normally comfortable for you.
  5. Live in the moment: As the great matchmaker, Hitch, once said: “When you’re in the room, be in the room. Daydreams are for private time.” Don’t think about other things when you’re around other people. Engage with them and the activity that is going on.
  6. Update your resume: Have you gotten complacent in the job you’re in? Spend time updating your resume in case new opportunities present themselves.
  7. Advance your career: Even if you feel like you’re set in your job, it never hurts to do research to see if better opportunities await you.
  8. Plan weekend getaways: Maybe you’re someone who annually makes a New Year’s resolution to travel more, but you never get around to it. Start small, take one day off work, and go on a three-day getaway. Keep it simple and it makes it harder to say no.

Digital Devices

  1. Put the phone down: Just put it down. Resolve to have your mobile phone in your hands less this coming year. There’s a great life going on around you; make a New Year’s resolution to be a part of it.
  2. Budget screen time: Remember when you were little and your parents may (or may not) have limited your video game time to a certain amount? Why do we not limit ourselves as adults? Budget a limited amount of time in front of the TV, computer, or your cell phone.
  3. Put your phone in your trunk: Unless you use your phone for the map app, you have no reason to have your phone accessible when you’re driving. If you put your phone anywhere within reach, you’ll be tempted to dangerously reach for it.
  4. Keep your phone out of reach but within earshot: To help avoid cell phone addiction, but to make sure you answer when someone calls, put your phone out of sight and reach, but within earshot to hear it ring.
  5. Substitute learning apps for games: When you’re bored, do you pick up your phone and play a game app? Try deleting those mindless apps and load ones that educate and inform.

Productivity

  1. Become more organized: Much like a financial budget helps you retain more money, organizing your professional and personal schedules can maximize your time and help you find more of it.
  2. Be on time: If you have a problem with tardiness, start telling yourself that if you’re not at least ten minutes early, then you’re late.
  3. Rearrange schedule/habits: People who say they don’t have enough time to do something aren’t properly budgeting their time. You can still have your personal time, but after you work out first.
  4. Be the first to arrive and the last to leave: Try going above and beyond your next obligation. Instead of just being “one of the crowd,” be a leader by showing up first and leaving last.
  5. Take your lunch break later: I found out early in my work life that as the day wears on, I’m less productive. So, I decided long ago to burst out of the starting gate and work longer and harder at the beginning of the day, then take my break and get refreshed for the shorter home stretch.
  6. Leave the house early to account for traffic: Why does traffic have to be so stressful? It doesn’t. People get stressed because they have to be somewhere on time — or on their own desired time. If you leave earlier, you become less stressed or pressed for time to get where you’re going.
  7. Write goals each month and then evaluate at the end of the month: Try writing down goals on the first of each month that you want to achieve for the upcoming 30 days. Then, on the last day of the month, recap what those goals were and analyze why they did or did not get achieved.
  8. Finish what you start: Have you ever started something that you just couldn’t — or didn’t want to — finish? Of course you did. You’re human. Resolve to finish something no matter how poorly it comes out. Just as writers re-write drafts, you can go back and amend what you finished.
  9. Give yourself more time in the morning: This is hard for people who crave their sleep, but by giving yourself more time in the morning, you can have a better breakfast, take your time getting ready, and be places on time.
  10. Assess priorities: Priorities often are set purely by one’s own desires and wishes rather than written plans. This is purely out of habit, but it doesn’t have to be. Make a resolution to write down what’s important to you in your life and budget your time and money accordingly.

Entertainment & Culture

  1. Find a new favorite song each week: Is your New Year’s resolution to keep up with the latest trends in the music industry? Each week, visit the Billboard 100 and find a new song that you like. 52 weeks later, you’ll have quite the collection.
  2. Visit a neighboring town: You never know what is around your town until you do a little investigating. Visit the websites of neighboring towns to find out what local events are coming up, and attend them.
  3. Go to one game for every sport: Make it a priority to attend at least one game for every sporting event in the calendar year.
  4. See one movie per month and write an analysis: You can become the movie critic of your social group. Resolve to attend one new movie each month and then write your thoughts about it. Post it on social media.
  5. Go to a nearby big city and partake in its culture: Similar to the neighboring town goal, drive to the nearest big city and expand your boundaries a little bit. Spend a whole day — or a weekend — immersed in its culture.
  6. Go to a museum: Museums just have a negative connotation surrounding them, don’t they? They don’t have to be boring, though. Go and walk through at your own pace and find something of interest. Take pictures and read more about them online.
  7. Go to an aquarium: Perhaps you’re less a museum person and more into aquariums? Make an effort to go see the marine life.
  8. Attend a new local play each month: If you don’t have a lot of money but still want to expand your culture, go attend a local play put on by an amateur cast.
  9. Try a native dish each week: If you’re willing to give new foods a try, research the native dishes from around the world and give a new one a try each week.

Lifestyle

  1. Cut down on procrastination: We all love pleasure more than pain, which is why we put off unpleasant tasks in favor of pleasurable ones. Make a New Year’s resolution to do a little bit of work at a time to make it seem less overwhelming.
  2. Watch less TV: I wish I had the statistics for it, but the amount of time we spend in front of the boob tube — especially watching reruns or movies we’ve already seen — is sickening. Don’t waste so much time in front of the TV.
  3. Adopt a pet: Every pet needs a good home. If you are responsible, go out and find a new furry little friend and give him a good home.
  4. Vacation more: There’s a reason why most jobs give vacation time off. It’s because we need a break from the hard work. Don’t fight this formula. Go on vacation more.
  5. Live intentionally: Do you ever feel like you’re that feather from Forrest Gump, just floating around aimlessly? In all that you do in life, make a resolution to put effort and drive into it.
  6. Find a better financially-personally rewarding job balance: Money is an important part of living in a society, but it’s an awful thing if you worship it. If you have a really financially-rewarding job that you’re miserable at, take a more pleasing job for less money. And vice versa.
  7. Simplify; become a minimalist: While not for everyone, sometimes reducing the amount of junk in your life frees you from stress. Why do we collect so much junk? Get rid of it.
  8. Find a new hobby: Never has it been so easy for someone to develop a new hobby. The amount of resources that are available to us on the internet is staggering.
  9. Find a new pastime: What do you do to pass the time between appointments and meetings? If you mindlessly check your cell phone, maybe it’s time to think up something else.
  10. Sit at the table when eating: Once upon a time in our society, it was proper for families to gather around the table at dinner time. Now we eat in the living room on couches in front of the TV. So much wasted valuable time together.
  11. Remove clutter from your home: As we accumulate new personal possessions, sometimes we just stick them in a corner wherever there is free space. Why not go through old clutter and remove it? You’d be surprised by how much space you can save.
  12. Set up – or amend – your will: If you don’t have a will yet, you might want to consider a resolution of getting one. Death is not pleasant to think about, but what happens with your estate after you die is important.
  13. Have a social media fast and journal it: We spend entirely too much time on social media. Choose to go a day, a week, or a month without it. You can journal your thoughts and experiences without it, and then post it online when the fast is over.
  14. Improve wardrobe: If you’re not a fashionable person, chances are you have room to improve your wardrobe. Donate old clothes, return some Christmas gifts, and go out and buy some new threads.
  15. Dress like a mannequin: No, I don’t mean have a plastic, chiseled physique, although that certainly would help. I mean that store mannequins are a good source for finding the latest fashion trends. Pick an outfit that it’s wearing, and buy it.
  16. Rearrange furniture or décor: Maybe you’re like me, and you enjoy changes in scenery. Maybe your resolution is to change up your living room and buy some new décor.
  17. Take time to enjoy overlooked beauty: God’s wonderful creation is full of beauty that we so often overlook. Take a walk around town or a forrest preserve and take in all the beauty.
  18. Make your bed daily: A simple, yet effective way to lead a healthier lifestyle. The difference in how you feel based on whether you see a made or unmade bed is small but noticeable.
  19. Rise and set with the sun: Get out of bed and go watch the sunrise. Sit outside and watch a beautiful sunset. Not only is it pleasant scenery, but it gives you time to think and reflect.

Relationships

  1. Become a big brother/sister: There are lots of kids out there in desperate need of a positive role model. Go be that difference in their lives.
  2. Give credit to others first: Be a humble, selfless person and deflect all praise from others. Give others the due credit they deserve for the roles that they play in your success.
  3. Mail birthday cards with handwritten sentiments instead of sending Facebook messages: Facebook has made communication plentiful, but far less personal. Instead of a one-liner birthday wish on somebody’s wall, mail them a birthday card with more thoughtful sentiments.
  4. Start a selfie photo album and collect photos with loved ones: Selfies are the big deal these days. Don’t fight it; embrace it. Put together a photo album containing selfies of yourself with friends, family, celebrities, and even strangers if you so dare.
  5. Share or retweet more of other’s posts on your timeline: Everybody has something to say, hence they have their own social media accounts. But why not give props to your friends and followers by sharing their thoughts and feelings?
  6. Seek specific advice from friends: Every peer of yours has something unique to offer. Find out what they know or do best and ask them for advice on those topics.
  7. Apologize more: Nobody likes to be wrong, but we often stick to our guns and want to blame others. It started with Adam and Eve and continues to this day. Take responsibility and vow to apologize more.
  8. Say I Love You every day: Tell a different somebody every day that you love them. Make a reminder on your phone if you need it, but share the love.
  9. Offer a compliment each day: You have no idea how powerful a compliment is. Make it a priority to compliment someone for something big or small, whether it be someone you know or a total stranger.
  10. Call somebody instead of texting: Phone calls occur less each day due to the ability to text someone. But if you have a question for someone, give them a quick call instead.
  11. Use snail mail for personal touch: Make a New Year’s resolution to send a letter in the mail each month. It’s a pleasant surprise for the recipient and is much more personal than email.

Social

  1. Meet new friends: You may think you don’t have time for new friends — and you could be right — but you shouldn’t stop meeting people because a new one just might push a “fringe” one out of the picture.
  2. Find significant other: If you’re single and lonely, this year is your time! Don’t get frustrated by your lack of progress in this area. Just keep a positive attitude and enjoy meeting new people.
  3. Join Twitter: If you don’t already have an account, join Twitter and start following people with similar interests. You can enjoy the conversations with them and also keep updated with the latest news in the world.
  4. Join Instagram: Get an Instagram account, snap pictures, and post them for all to see. There is so much beauty in the world that is worth sharing.
  5. Thought of the day: Looking for something to say on Twitter or Facebook? Start with something simple by resolving to share one thought every day that may be on your mind.
  6. Picture of the day: Similar to the thought of the day, snap a photo of something that appeals to you and post it each day.
  7. Have purposeful conversations: Small talk is fine and dandy when you don’t have a lot of time, but leave that type of conversation alone otherwise. Each time you talk to someone, resolve to learn something about them. It doesn’t have to be something new, either. It can be additional info about something you already knew about them.
  8. Teach someone something: If you have a particular skill or knowledge of a certain topic, don’t be afraid to share that with someone who is seeking it.
  9. Organize a regular game night: Have a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly game night with friends and family. It’ll be good social time and loads of fun.
  10. Chat with one random stranger every day: Often we like to keep to ourselves, but you’ll find that if you converse with someone random each day, you can not only learn something — possibly make a friend — but you can also brighten their day.
  11. Set up rotating movie night with friends: You can save money and have fun by hosting a movie night with your friends.
  12. Post more positive things on social media: Do you ever look at your Facebook timeline and see nothing but complaints and whining? There are so many negative thoughts that people have to share that it often overshadows positive stories and comments. Resolve to stick to the positive.
  13. Throw potluck holiday parties: Parties can be expensive, so choose a potluck where everyone brings food and enjoy the company of your friends and family.
  14. Don’t ever feel excluded from a conversation: Do you ever sit at a table where people are having a conversation about people or things you don’t know? Don’t feel left out! Just ask them to explain who these people or things are, and I’m sure they’ll happily oblige because you’re showing interest.
  15. Have a “New Year’s Resolution” recap/kickoff party next New Year’s with friends: As sort of an incentive for keeping your New Year’s resolutions, have a party at the end of each year and see which of your friends have stuck to, or achieved the most resolutions.
  16. Participate in a theme day: If you’re a student, a teacher, or an everyday worker, there’s a chance you’ve been presented the opportunity to participate in a theme day at your office. Resolve not to skip out on these!

Acts of Kindness

  1. Be more courteous: We have a courtesy problem in America. We often get lost in our own world and forget that there are other lives that matter. Think of others before doing certain things in public.
  2. Give the benefit of the doubt: When we see someone do something we don’t like, or hear them say something we disagree with, our first inclination is to judge them. Try giving them the benefit of the doubt first, as if there are factors weighing on that person’s heart and mind.
  3. Buy a drink for a stranger: When you’re out at a bar, try buying someone a drink just for the fun of it. And no, I’m not talking about that cute girl you’re interested in, although that’s fine, too. Just spot someone random, buy them a drink, and leave with no questions asked.
  4. Hold the door open for strangers: Chivalry is dying thanks to the rise in feminism. But it doesn’t have to be. Make a resolution to always hold the door open for anyone around you who is headed for the same building as you are.
  5. Bring doughnuts – or a healthy alternative – to your office: Spread some good workplace morale and bring in a snack for your coworkers.
  6. Leave a surprise holiday gift on neighbor’s doorsteps: You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Buy a pack of candy canes, print out a generic goodwill note, and leave them at your neighbors’ doorsteps.
  7. Follow the rules of the road more closely: This one personally affects me, as I think it’s a general lack of courtesy for other drivers when people break the rules of the road. Resolve to change that.
  8. Write a positive — or, an insult-free negative — review for a product: Did you make a recent purchase that you like? Log online to that company’s website and write a positive review for it. Or, if you didn’t like it, you can be honest but do it without hurling insults.
  9. Post a positive comment on an article you read online: Do you ever read the comments section on articles? I don’t, because the vast majority of them are from keyboard bullies who exist just to insult people. Try changing that up and spreading some goodwill to others with positive comments. Even if you hate what they wrote, find one thing that you liked and focus on that.

Financial

  1. Get a part-time job: Looking to improve your finances? The best place to go is to work.
  2. Cut up your credit cards: I’m in the Dave Ramsey school of thought that credit cards are a bad thing. They’re a slippery slope and make it way easy for you to overspend.
  3. Home brew coffee: Do you realize the addiction our country has to coffee? And what’s worse is that it’s the expensive, foofy stuff sold at Starbucks and other coffee retailers. We spend way too much money there. Stop going there and start brewing at home.
  4. Get out of debt: Debt is a huge problem because it slows your ability to make money in investments. Make a resolution to get out of debt this year.
  5. Save more: There’s a staggering number of Americans who either live paycheck to paycheck or spend a disproportionate amount of their income. Resolve to put away a little bit of each paycheck you get into a savings account.
  6. Tip more: Make a resolution to go above and beyond what you normally tip. Can’t figure out the percentage? Just take 10% of the check, multiply it by two, and round up to the nearest dollar. Every now and then, drop a $20- or $50-bill on an unexpecting waiter or waitress.
  7. Make money with your hobby: Do you do something for fun that you absolutely love? Why not investigate if there’s money to be made with your talents?
  8. Increase your 401k contribution: Most Americans do not save enough for retirement because they’re too interested in “living in the now” with their paychecks. Don’t be poor in your senior years! Increase your 401k right now, even if it’s just one percent.
  9. Start a budget: If you thought you spent too much money last year, make your resolution this year to budget where every dollar is going.
  10. Have a garage sale: I think it’s safe to say that nearly every middle class person has something in his or her house that he or she doesn’t need anymore. Why keep it? Sell it and get some extra money.
  11. Resolve to live below your means: In our society, we have this obsession of “keeping up with the Joneses.” What our neighbor has, we’ve gotta have. Enough of that. Cut down on your expenses, save money, and pay for it when you can actually afford it without debt.
  12. Substitute movies at home for theater: Movie theaters are still very expensive and it can put a strain on your budget. Instead, dive into the $5 bins at Walmart for a cheap movie you may not have seen — or haven’t seen in a while — and watch that for much cheaper.
  13. Make a shopping list and only buy what’s on it: Rid yourself of the impulse buying at the supermarket, and instead make a list before you go, buying only what is on the list. You’ll save much more money.
  14. Save – and cash – loose change: It’s amazing how much money we accumulate in pure change. And we treat this change as if it were little value. If you save all the change you collect throughout the year, you can have a big New Year’s resolution bash next year.
  15. Support – and save at – small shops: Small businesses need your help! They often have good deals and you can help save yourself and them.
  16. Bring lunch to cut down on restaurant costs: People spend too much money eating out each month. Start bringing your lunch from home.
  17. Carpool: Cut down on gas costs and increase communication with your peers by organizing a carpool.
  18. Buy cheap, bulk greeting cards: Do you ever look at the back of greeting cards when you’re in the store? Prices are ridiculous. You can save by buying generic cards in bulk or writing your own.
  19. Learn to love leftovers: Need to save money and eat healthier? Cook big meals, divide them up into proper portion sizes, and eat the leftovers later.

What exactly is eggnog, and what part of the egg is the nog?

What the heck is eggnog made of, and which part of the egg is the nog?

As I sit here enjoying my cold, delicious eggnog in front of the Christmas tree, that little random thought just happened to pop into my head — which has become quite a weird habit as of late.

Eggnog has essentially become synonymous with Christmas and I can’t go a season without tossing back a glass of it. Maybe you’re the same? But whether you love eggnog or hate it, have you ever actually wondered what you’re drinking?

Try observing it as it sits in the glass. Not to ruin it for anybody, but it’s a weird, discolored goo that looks as if someone cracked open six eggs and poured some milk into it.

So, as my inquisitive mind often prompts me to do, I Googled the topic and came up with the answer.

According to the all-knowing, never deceiving Wikipedia, Eggnog is a “dairy-based beverage traditionally made with milk and/or cream, sugar, whipped eggs and…” for the adults out there “…spirits such as brandy, rum or bourbon.”

Basically, what I just described is accurate: it’s a bunch of raw eggs mixed up with milk, topped off with sugar and cream.

And yet, somehow that still sounds appetizing to me. Go figure.

But why “nog?”

Wikipedia goes on: “The ‘nog’ part of its name may stem from the word noggin, a Middle English term for a small, carved wooden mug used to serve alcohol.”

So take the alcohol out of the recipe, and if you’re drinking nonalcoholic eggnog, you’re basically chugging eggs like Rocky Balboa.

Bottoms up!

Gluten-free Christmas cookies and desserts

Christmas is my favorite time of the year! We celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, bask in the joy and comfort of our families, cheerfully give gifts and deck our houses with lights and decorations.

And, let’s be honest, the majority of us pack on the pounds. How can we help it? There is too much good food and too many occasions where we sit down and eat large meals.

But perhaps the greatest offender of all this time of the year is the delicious Christmas cookies and desserts that we gorge ourselves on. I’m guilty of that as charged!

This year is a little different for me. This is the first Christmas season that I’ve been aware of my gluten intolerance. Feeling ill after eating is one sure way to avoid eating all these fatty foods to begin with! But … where’s the fun in that?

So, I set out to compile a list of gluten-free Christmas cookies and other dessert recipes to help others (and myself) get through the holidays with full bellies!

Choose by Category:

Frosted Sugar CookiesGingerbread CookiesTrufflesEggnog DessertsHolly/Wreath CookiesPeanut Butter BlossomsRum BallsSpritz CookiesChristmas FudgeBrownies and BlondiesToffee Squares and DessertsPeppermint DessertsCinnamon DessertsCranberry TreatsChocolate Peanut Butter BarsCaramel DelightsWalnut DessertsLemon SquaresChocolate CookiesPeanut Butter Cookies

The List:

Frosted Sugar Cookies

Delicious sugar cookies with a tasty frosted design, these have long been my favorite cookie of the season! The softer the better.

Gingerbread Cookies

Who doesn’t love gingerbread cookies!? Well, I guess there are plenty of people out there who do not. But this cookie is synonymous with Christmas desserts!

Truffles

Definitely a holiday and party classic, there are dozens of varieties of truffles out there for enthusiasts of all flavors.

Eggnog Desserts

Eggnog is one of those drinks I’d get sick of if I had it year round, but since it’s part of the Christmas season, I absolutely love indulging in it.

Holly/Wreath Cookies

If you like corn flakes and marshmallows, you’ll love these holiday treats, designed specifically for the Christmas season!

Peanut Butter Blossoms

You cannot give or receive a tray of Christmas cookies without spotting a few of these! Peanut butter flavor with a chocolate kiss — definitely a good combination.

Rum Balls

For the adult audience out there, a yummy confection of chocolate and rum. How can you go wrong?

Spritz Cookies

A classic, traditional buttery sugar cookie of German origin, this cookie is just enough to satisfy the appetite for a sugar rush, but not filling enough to spoil your appetite.

Christmas Fudge

My mouth waters at the mere mention of fudge! So rich and delicious, there are dozens of great choices. For the Christmas season, I have to say my fudge of choice is peppermint.

Brownies and Blondies

Not exactly limited to a Christmas dessert, brownies and blondies are a classic choice for the sugar craving. They can be given a special holiday flavoring to fit the season.

Toffee Squares and Desserts

I didn’t grow up much of a fan of toffee as a dessert, but it has really grown on me as an adult, and now, try keeping me away!

Peppermint Desserts

I’ve already mentioned my love of peppermint fudge, but the holiday taste isn’t just limited to that. There are plenty of opportunities to savor the flavor.

Cinnamon Cookies

Aside from Cinnamon Toast Crunch, rolls, and golden brown French toast, there’s no better use for cinnamon than in cookies!

Cranberry Treats

Tis the season for cranberries! I enjoy cranberries throughout the year, but it seems like from Thanksgiving through the new year, I can’t help but have extra servings of it.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

There’s no better combination of ingredients than peanut butter and chocolate — sorry, peanut butter and jelly enthusiasts! So naturally, this would be a top choice to reach for on Christmas cookie trays.

Caramel Delights

I like caramel on sundaes and in my chocolates, but there are certainly other good uses for it!

Walnut Desserts

Whether it be because of allergies or personal preference, desserts with nuts are not for everybody. But I like my protein — I’m a guy, after all.

Lemon Squares

A classic, year-round dessert, these remain a tasty treat for lemon fans.

Chocolate Cookies

There’s a wide variety of different types of chocolate cookies to fill out your cookie trays.

Peanut Butter Cookies

For those who can’t get enough peanut butter, you’re in luck! There are plenty of desserts to choose from.

Thanksgiving thoughts on blessings, turkey, and football

Thanksgiving is the start of my favorite time of the year — and no, it’s not just because we stuff ourselves and watch football. It kicks off the Christmas season and a time of togetherness and thankfulness. And as I reflect on my life and get ready to indulge in the holiday season — and in turkey — I realize how thankful I am for the many blessings in my life.

More than anything, I’m thankful for a God who loves me and a Savior who redeemed me, without which, I would be nothing and have nothing.

I’m thankful for my health, for the ability to wake up each day and have another chance at doing something meaningful and being somebody special. I pray I make an impact on others and do more with the time I’m given than simply let it pass by.

This is my first Thanksgiving as a husband, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the loving wife with whom I’ve been fortunate to share my life. It’s also the first Thanksgiving in which she is pregnant and the last one before I’m a father. I’m grateful for that special gift from God.

I’ve been blessed with a wonderfully large family, the immediate ones with whom I grew up and the in-laws I was fortunate to inherit upon marriage. These are the people — along with my wife, of course — who most shape my life, and I’m grateful for the impact that they’ve had.

I’m thankful for my employment, for my home and the shelter it provides, and for the other necessities of everyday life.

As I think about some of the great issues that our country and our world face, I pray for resolutions to those, but also offer thanks for the comfort and security in my life, for which so many have fought and died.

It’s all too easy to let life roll on and to be consumed by the everyday challenges that we face, neglecting to remember all that we have to be thankful for. So, I not only offer a prayer of thanks today but one that hopefully serves as a reminder for the days that lie ahead.

Now … it’s time for some turkey and some football!

Things to do for New Year’s Eve

What are you doing New Years … New Years Eve? Those aren’t just the lyrics of a popular song, they’re actually an annual question most people find themselves asking. Do I dine out? Do I eat in? Do I travel? Do I stay home? Do I play games? Do I explore the city?

Deciding what to do isn’t always easy and often requires deciding what best fits your personality. I know a night of hitting the bars and partying isn’t necessarily for me. I prefer a bit more quality time spent ringing in the new year with those I love.

Here are a few ideas for those seeking some help filling their schedule.

  • Plan a getaway

    Do you enjoy traveling? Do you have a list of places you’d like to visit in your lifetime? Do you just “wanna get away” from the hassles of drunkards on New Year’s Eve? Then maybe planning a getaway is the New Year’s activity for you. Ring in the new year from a different city or state every year and make a tradition out of it.

  • Host a dinner party

    Do you have a close group of friends with whom you’d prefer to celebrate the new year? Spice up your celebration by having a dinner party at your house. It can be something classy with candles, music and fancy attire, or something more relaxed with a potluck buffet. Be sure to serve these wings if you choose the latter!

  • Have a romantic dinner

    Are you a romantic at heart? Does the idea of fruit, wine and cheese by the fireplace appeal to you? Do you have a special someone who means more to you than any New Year’s party ever could? Turn down the lights, get the ambient glow going, and pick from hundreds of rom coms to set the mood.

  • Attend a sporting event or concert

    Maybe the idea of celebrating the new year has little to no effect on you at all. Perhaps you’d rather enjoy the ambiance of a professional sporting event or a rock concert. Instead of cheering the turn of the calendar year you can root for a big play by your favorite team or the awesome lyrics from your favorite band.

  • Host a game night

    If you enjoy playing board games, card games, video games, party games, drinking games, or even computer games, then spending New Year’s Eve locked into battles with friends, either casually or competitively, might be the activity for you.

  • Watch a movie marathon

    If you’re a movie buff like me, you might be more interested in watching some of those new movies you got for Christmas, or old classics that bring back good memories, rather than the New Year’s countdown on network TV. It might be a good opportunity to invite the friends over and watch a good, epic movie saga.

  • Have a support group meeting

    Have you had a rough year? Do you feel you might need a little reboot of the system before you start a brand new year? Call up members of your church community, a support group you might be in, or otherwise close friends whom you can confide in, and spend the evening sharing your thoughts and feelings and helping each other brainstorm ideas for having the best new year of your life.

  • Visit a local pub

    Do you prefer to cut loose, surround yourself with loud music and merry company while ringing in the new year with an alcoholic beverage in hand? If shouting until your voice is hoarse and there is a ringing in your ears sounds appealing to you, then this might be the choice of activity for you.

  • Plan a wine tasting party

    Are you a wine enthusiast? Do you enjoy your reds and whites, sweets and drys? There are countless wines in the world and not enough time to try them all. Call up your friends and family and have everybody bring a bottle of wine they’ve never had nor heard of before, plus as many shot glasses as they can round up. Pour a sampling of each wine and enjoy the tasting with some cheese and chocolates.

  • Organize a cookie exchange and sampling

    Are you a baker? Do you enjoy testing your mettle in the kitchen? Or, perhaps you just have leftover Christmas cookies that you want to get rid of. Have all your baker friends bring a batch of cookies and spend the evening tasting the sugar rush while ringing in the new year.

  • Have a post-Christmas White Elephant gift exchange

    Did you get a gift for Christmas that just isn’t going to make the cut? A t-shirt that’s too small? An ugly pair of socks? Yet another new tie? A movie you already own? A gift card to a restaurant you don’t like? A book you don’t intend to read? Well, wrap that sucker back up and bring it to a party with friends and family — just make sure the person you received your gift from isn’t there! Play the white elephant gift exchange and take home an overtime Christmas gift.

  • Do something artistic or crafty

    Do you have a hobby simmering somewhere below the surface? Have you been hoping to start one but just haven’t found the time? Maybe your upcoming New Year’s resolution is to build something creative? Why wait for the calendar page to turn? Why not start your hobby a little early instead?

  • Go to, or have a costume party

    Who says costumes have to be for Halloween alone? Do you enjoy dressing up and showing off your intelligent costume ideas? Perhaps you wanted to attend a party back in October but couldn’t make it for one reason or another. Here’s your second chance.

  • Decorate for a staycation

    Maybe you’d like to take a getaway or even a full-blown vacation for New Year’s, but you just don’t have the money to do so right now. Why not decorate your house and make it as close to the real thing as possible? Wanna go to Mexico? Make a fiesta out of New Year’s. Feeling Italian? Play some Italian music and break out the pasta dinner. Have a sausage and beer for Oktoberfest. Break out the beads and costumes for Mardi Gras. Wear a lei and have a luau in your Hawaiian home. Let your imagination run wild have a ball.

  • Cross an item off your bucket list

    Do you keep a bucket list? Are you hoping to accomplish as much as you can in life? You should have the attitude that you’re not going to put things off another day. Scan your bucket list and pick one item (or more) that you’d like to accomplish this calendar year. Do something adventurous, learn something new, taste something different, alter your appearance, have a little fun! You can make a tradition out of crossing off one thing every New Year’s Eve.

Whatever you decide to do for New Year’s, make it a safe, fun and memorable evening!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special turns 50

Do you recall the most famous reindeer of all? He had a very shiny nose and got bullied by all the other reindeer because of it.

First created by Robert L. May in 1939 and later written into a song by May’s brother-in-law, radio producer Johnny Marks, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was turned into a stop motion Christmas television special which first aired Sunday, December 6, 1964.

Now 50 years later, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the longest-running Christmas TV special of all time and has become synonymous with Christmas tradition and Christmas programming.

My Top 36 “Christmas spirit”-inducing Christmas songs

I love music. I love everything about music. It’s fuel for the soul, a source of energy when you’re feeling drained, a remedy for what ails your heart or mind, and above all else it’s a means of creative expression whether you have the talent to play a single note or a complete song.

Christmas music is one of my favorite music genres because its particularly expressive and motivating. While the sights and smells of Christmas are equally as important to the joy of the season, the sounds help set the tone for just how much Christmas spirit you have this time of the year.

I compiled a list of 36 of my favorite songs, arranged by how much Christmas spirit they inject into my life. Just to preface my list, these aren’t necessarily what I think are the 36 “best” songs. For instance, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” is perhaps my favorite of all time. But instead, these are the ones that give me the greatest boost of Christmas spirit. Also of note, this list has fluidity; the order may change and new songs may come and go.

The criteria I used for ranking these include, but are not limited to: Nostalgia: do they make me fondly reminisce of Christmases past? Entertainment: does the tempo and rhythm of the song pique and keep my attention, perhaps stirring me to turn up the volume? Meaning: do the lyrics, history and/or context of the song have deep roots or purpose? Inspiration: does the song give me goosebumps, warm my heart, and perhaps even bring me to tears?

  1. Little St. Nick (Beach Boys)

    I’m not the biggest The Beach Boys fan there is. I don’t like all the “oohing” and “ahhing” laced throughout their songs. I realize that’s their sound, but it’s not for me. However, this one is a catchy tune with a fun chorus.

  2. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Bruce Springsteen)

    The live version of this song is what makes it as good as it is. The fun that “The Boss” has while up on stage, engaging with the band and his audience and the energy hovering over the venue are nice to hear.

  3. There’s no place like home for the holidays (Perry Como)

    A classic old school Christmas song, this one has a nice upbeat rhythm to it, and with Perry Como’s smooth, soothing tones you can’t help but sing along and tap your feet.

  4. Happy Holidays (Andy Williams)

    Another old school foot-tapper, these older Christmas songs all have the same characteristics. The band in the background on this one help make the song what it is. Andy Williams really punctuates his notes.

  5. Holly Jolly Christmas (Burl Ives)

    This one is truly a Christmas sing-along. With simple but effective lyrics, you can’t help but try to hit certain phrases with a little more emphasis each time — such as the “Have” in “Have a holly jolly Christmas”, and the “kiss her” in “kiss her once for me”.

  6. Sleigh Ride (The Ronettes)

    A nice, upbeat tune, I think what really gives this song pop is the backup singers (I can never fully make out what they sing, but I think it’s something like: “jing-a-ling-a-ling-a ding dong ding”). Plus, the sleigh bells, which are commonplace in many Christmas songs, really motivate me to want to jump on a sleigh ride.

  7. We Need A Little Christmas (Johnny Mathis)

    This is another song in which the voice of the singer — Johnny Mathis, in this case — is the driving factor behind what makes the song enjoyable. Between his voice, how he punches the notes, and the speed with which he sings it, how can you not “want” a little Christmas?

  8. The Most Wonderful Time of The Year (Andy Williams)

    This song always makes me think about my favorite Christmas movie, “Jingle All the Way”, when Arnold Schwarzenegger is running all over town trying to find a last-minute Christmas gift. In that movie, they use Johnny Mathis’ version, which is a good one, too. This is a good song for those cold days when you’re out and about shopping.

  9. Here Comes Santa Claus (Gene Autry)

    Featured in Christmas Vacation, this song has a nice rhythm to it and I can’t help but sing along to the chorus.

  10. White Christmas (Bing Crosby)

    I truly dream of White Christmases, so this song is right up my alley. Bing’s got a soothing voice and when I hear this song, I think about memories of the past as well as Christmases that predated me.

  11. The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole)

    Maybe one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time (I’ve seen it ranked that way), this is certainly one of the most recognizable. If somebody asked me to identify the single most depictive, illustrative song about what it means to be in a warm, cozy house surrounded by family on a cold winter’s night, this would be it.

  12. All I want for Christmas is you (Mariah Carey)

    If you can’t tap your foot, nod your head, or have some kind of involuntary body movement to this song, you must be sedated. An uptempo love song with a catchy beat, you can’t help but sing along while thinking about that special someone in your life (*cough* Rachel *cough*) who is worth more than any present Santa can deliver on Christmas morning.

  13. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (Mariah Carey)

    Another Mariah Carey song with a love theme, I just had to rank this and the previous one together. Believe it or not, I like this one slightly better than her more popular “All I want for Christmas is you”. You can feel the love and energy and the warmth of Christmas while listening to this one.

  14. I saw three ships (Blackmore’s Night)

    Released by Blackmore’s Night, a British group, in 2006, I first heard their version of this song within the last two years, but had obviously heard of this ancient classic before then. My favorite version of this song was actually done by a quartet of sisters who once played at my church with flutes, violins and drums.

  15. Snoopy’s Christmas (The Royal Guardsman)

    I love Snoopy and the Peanuts gang, but that’s only part of the reason why I like this song. The chorus is the most engaging part and I can’t help but sing out loudly: “Christmas bells those Christmas bells / Ring out from the land / Asking peace of all the world / And good will to man”. Also, each successive verse kicks up a notch.

  16. Wonderful Christmas Time (Paul McCartney)

    The Beatles are my favorite band of all time and the primary reason and source of inspiration for how I became interested in music. So, of course I’m going to enjoy a Christmas tune from one of its members. Yes, Sir Paul, when you belt out these lyrics, I’m having a wonderful Christmas time.

  17. Happy Christmas (War is Over) (John Lennon)

    Another Beatles member with another catchy, moving tune. This song has deep significance for its peace message, and it also has had a long-lasting affect on our culture of people of all ages, races, and income levels.

  18. Do They Know It’s Christmas (Band Aid)

    A song, like Happy Christmas by John Lennon, with a deeper meaning than the commercialization of popular Christmas tradition. This song draws attention to those in Africa (and other parts of the word, really) where those less fortunate are hungry and impoverished. A song to be thankful for what you have but to possibly move you to action.

  19. Mary Did You Know? (Pentatonix)

    A song that is relatively new by Christmas standards, I just heard this version of it recently. I have great respect for a cappella groups, those who can make sweet music and beats with just their voices. That alone gives me goosebumps, but the lyrics are powerful to boot.

  20. Hallelujah (Cloverton)

    Originally a moving song by Leonard Cohen, Christian band Cloverton turned it into wonderful story of the Nativity of Jesus. This is a more sentimental song about the real reason for the season, and if you close your eyes and imagine being in Bethlehem, you’re sure to get goosebumps and possible tears.

  21. Soldier’s Silent Night (James M. Schmidt)

    Not really a song, per se, but more of a recital of a spinoff of the popular poem, The Night Before Christmas. The words were written by a soldier, James M. Schmidt, and are spoken from the perspective of Santa Claus, who enters a house and notices it barren and undecorated. It was a soldier’s house, and Santa caught a glimpse of the sacrifice this soldier made to give us all freedom to enjoy such things as Christmas morning in peace and joy.

  22. Believe (Josh Groban)

    Josh Groban is becoming — has already become — one of my favorite Christmas singers. The power and emotion behind his voice are so moving. Believe is a song from one of my top Christmas movies, The Polar Express. Faith and belief are core principles to who I am as an individual.

  23. Christmas at Carnegie Hall: O Come, All Ye Faithful; O Little Town of Bethlehem; Silent Night (John Williams)

    This song ranking is more about “O Come, All Ye Faithful” than the other two, but my favorite version is part of a composition of the three songs together, which is why I included them all. The “O Come, All Ye Faithful” portion of this composition (the first 60 seconds) is heard in Christmas movies like Home Alone 2 and Christmas Vacation. I like this song best when played by an orchestra, but it is also very moving sung by a choir.

  24. Carol of the Bells (Trans-Siberian Orchestra)

    I have to admit, I had difficulty narrowing down my choice for this song between an orchestra version and a choir version. I have much respect and admiration for anybody with any kind of creative talent, and those who can sing this song right on the money will give you goosebumps. But I ultimately went with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra version of this song due to its energetic rendition.

  25. We Three Kings (Blackmore’s Night)

    “We Three Kings” is one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time. There are several good versions out there, but I chose this particular one because I love the Renaissance instruments used in their music. I can feel the energy and emotion behind the rhythm and tempo of the song, and it’s definitely a song that moves me to turn up the volume.

  26. Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy (Bing Crosby / David Bowie)

    This is the highest-ranked “old school” song I have on the list. I love the duo of Bing and Bowie as they sing together bringing Christmas cheer and “peace on Earth” to all who listen. It’s a comforting song that brings back memories of years past.

  27. Silent Night (Jewel)

    There are literally hundreds of versions of Silent Night, which is one of the best and most inspirational Christmas songs of all time. The song brings goosebumps to me all the time, and when sung a cappella by an entire choir or church congregation, it can move me to tears. I chose this particular version, though, because I think it’s beautifully sung by Jewel.

  28. What Child is This? (Jessica Simpson)

    Jessica Simpson has some pipes on her. Sometimes, she can get a little too — oh, let’s say “screamy” — but when she belts out these lyrics about the baby Jesus, it’s emotionally moving.

  29. The First Noel (Josh Groban / Faith Hill)

    As previously mentioned, Groban is fast becoming one of my favorite Christmas artists and when you throw in Faith Hill’s lovely voice as the duet sing this beautiful song, I can’t help but sing along with the volume raised.

  30. Do You Hear What I Hear? (Whitney Houston)

    This is my favorite Christmas song of all time, but it’s just a smidge below these other songs because they are a little more powerful and “Christmas spirit”-inducing than this one. Still, Whitney has tremendous ability to stir up your emotions about the birth of Jesus.

  31. O Holy Night (Celine Dion or Josh Groban)

    I could not decide which version of this wonderful song I like better, so I included them both. Really, it comes down to which type of voice you prefer to hear more, that of a female or a male. There’s something about this song that brings about a wave of emotions, and anybody who possesses the ability to hit these notes and draw them out is truly blessed.

  32. I’ll be home for Christmas (Josh Groban)

    Between Groban’s amazing voice and the sentimentality and emotional Christmas wishes from and for our soldiers, this song is emotionally stirring and makes you appreciate all that you have — especially the relationships — this time of the year.

  33. The Night Before Christmas (Amy Grant)

    I first heard this song while watching one of my favorite Christmas movies, Mixed Nuts. It’s got a touch of sentimentality because the title itself refers to Christmas Eve, which is my favorite day of the year. The chorus is moving and sends waves of memories through my mind, specifically family gatherings of Christmases past. The core message is in one of the final lyrics: “The heart of this Christmas is in you and me.”

  34. Where are you Christmas? (Faith Hill)

    This song is part of the How the Grinch Stole Christmas soundtrack. I think Faith Hill has a beautiful voice and the notes that she hits in this song are amazing. This song gets me every time and makes my eyes a bit misty. I think about those who have lost their Christmas spirit — or have otherwise a negative opinion toward the season — and I just think, hope, and pray they find it once more.

  35. The Christmas Shoes (Newsong)

    Sung by a Christian band, this song has tremendous meaning to me. Too often in our world and specifically our American society, our minds are consumed with more trivial things that deter us from remembering the more important things in life. This song, featured in a movie of the same title — is about a man who doesn’t have the Christmas spirit and is peeved by the busyness of the season. He encounters a little boy whose mom is dying and the boy wants nothing more than to buy a pair of shoes for her so she can look nice when she meets Jesus. The boy doesn’t have enough money and that’s when the spirit fills the man to the point that he buys the shoes for the little boy and he remembers “what Christmas is all about.” This song brings me to tears literally every time I listen to it intently.

  36. Christmas Canon (Trans-Siberian Orchestra)

    Two of my favorite events in life — Christmas and weddings — are brought together in this wonderful rendition. To say I get goosebumps or get emotionally stirred when I hear Canon in D would be a gross understatement. I love to see the union of two souls becoming one flesh in God’s eyes. But then when you throw a Christmas twist to the song, it’s all the more moving to me.

Christmas cookie recipes: Tis the season to pack on the pounds!

I’m no baker, that’s for sure. Send me into the kitchen to bake soft, round cookies and I’ll come back out with amoeba-shaped hockey pucks. But Christmas cookies are delicious and are one of my favorite desserts of the calendar year. I’d have to say my favorite are the frosted sugar cookies — clearly, one of the most popular kind there is.

Here’s a few resources for those with more luck wearing the chef’s hat than I do.