Tag Archives: happy holidays

A Message Of Hope (And Resilience) For Christmas 2021

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It is a special Christmas message of hope, motivation, and gratitude to help celebrate the season. Enjoy!

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Why You Should Watch “Klaus” On Netflix This Christmas

Klaus' Director Reveals How Netflix Landed 2D Animation Film

Every year, once the holidays come around, I make it a point to check out at least one new Christmas special. Regardless of whether it’s a TV show or movie, I think it’s important to supplement your holiday collection.

There will always be a place for classics like “It’s A Wonderful Life” or “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” but we can’t be afraid to give other holiday specials a chance. Otherwise, we wouldn’t experience unexpected gems like “The Christmas Chronicles,” a wonderful Christmas movie from Netflix that I recommended last year.

I can attest that those who have seen this movie are grateful for that recommendation. My mother even checked it out and she thought it was delightful.

In that same spirit, I’d like to recommend another holiday gem that really flew under the radar. I actually watched it last year, but it kind of got overshadowed by “The Christmas Chronicles.” However, in re-watching it again recently, while I was wrapping presents no less, only made me realize how great it was.

That movie is called “Klaus,” an animated feature that’s also on Netflix and one that you’d never expect to be so great. That’s despite the rather impressive voice cast, which include the likes of J. K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Jason Schwartzman, and the late Norm MacDonald.

It’s one of those movies that, if you just saw the trailer, you’d think it’s just some sub-par Pixar or Dreamworks wannabe. You know it’s a Christmas movie, but it’s not clear what kind of Christmas movie it’s supposed to be. I remember putting it on because I just wanted to have something on in the background while I wrapped presents.

Much to my surprise and delight, “Klaus” turned out to be so much more. What starts as a somewhat quirky story about a lazy, self-centered, self-absorbed postal worker quickly evolves into a unique kind of Christmas story, one that captures the spirit of the holidays in all the right ways.

The story begins with Jesper, the aforementioned postal worker who has largely coaxed his way through life because he was born in a privileged family. Then, his father decided to teach him a lesson and sends him to the postal station in Smeerensburg, one of the least jolly places in the world. It’s a harsh lesson and one he resents to the utmost.

While there, he meets Klaus, a mysterious recluse from the woods who makes toys in his spare time. His reasons for doing so aren’t clear at first. He even seems menacing, as tends to be the case with characters who sound like J. K. Simmons. However, as we learn more about him, we also learn the tragic nature of his story.

I won’t spoil it. I’ll just say that it’s one of those tragedies that serves as the foundation for something that’s genuinely heartwarming. It doesn’t happen all at once. The motivations involved aren’t even that noble at first. Then, as the story unfolds, the true spirit of the movie becomes clear.

You see selfish, arrogant people eventually become selfless, sincere, and genuine.

You see someone go from a liar and a fraud to someone willing to sacrifice all his comforts to do the right thing.

You also see someone turn their loss and heartbreak into something positive and beautiful.

There’s just so much more I could say about this movie. The last few minutes alone will bring a tear to your eye while enriching your Christmas spirit. While I still think “The Christmas Chronicles” is the better Christmas movie, “Klaus” is not that far behind.

If you’re going to try another Christmas movie this year, make it this one. It’s a uniquely heartwarming story that perfectly embodies the spirit of the season. After the past couple years, we could all use more of that.

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It’s December! Here Are Some Holiday Themed Background Ambience Videos To Relax And Invigorate Your Christmas Spirit

We’ve made it to December! That means 2021 is in the home stretch. It also means that the holidays are here and Christmas is just around the corner. As kids, it can’t come soon enough. As adults, it always seems to come faster than we expect.

I’ve already made my love for the holidays known, so I won’t belabor that. Instead, I’d like to offer something to improve the holiday ambience.

For a couple years now, I’ve grown quite fond of using YouTube Ambience videos to play in the background while I work. Whether I’m editing a YouTube video for my channel or writing a sexy story, I often find it helpful to play something in the background.

Certain music can be distracting, but other sounds and imagery can be very relaxing. During certain times of the year, I like to have videos of thunderstorms and rain falling in the background. During others, I like to have videos of blizzards and wind. It really does depend on the mood I’m in.

For this time of year, though, I go heavy on the holiday themes. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of YouTube ambience videos that offer amazing holiday imagery and soothing background noise. Some even play soft holiday themes. They both relax me and get me into the Christmas spirit.

Regardless of the work you do or what you do to de-stress, I encourage that you try playing these videos in the background. They’ll help you relax and embolden your Christmas spirit. Enjoy!

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Happy Black Friday Shopping (And Why I Love It)

Black Friday 2019: What You Need to Know - The New York Times

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Some of you may still be emerging from your food coma, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. That just means you had a damn good meal. That’s exactly what Thanksgiving is all about.

Now, it’s the day after Thanksgiving. For some, it’s just another day after a holiday. It usually involves cleaning up the messes your relatives made, giving your stomach a much-deserved rest, and sleeping off a hangover, if necessary. There’s certainly a place for that sort of thing, especially after a holiday like Thanksgiving.

For me, though, the Friday after Thanksgiving is Black Friday. It’s all about Christmas shopping. I know it’s weird for a straight guy like me to say this, but I love Black Friday Christmas shopping. Even when I was a broke college student with no car, I still loved it. There’s just something about it that puts me in the holiday spirit.

I know that’s not a feeling shared by everyone. I don’t doubt that Black Friday is a joke to a lot of people. I also don’t deny that the commercials for Black Friday deals are annoying as hell. I don’t like them, either. I still tolerate them because just getting out there and enjoying the Black Friday experience is worth it.

That experience used to be a lot more pragmatic. As I’ve noted before, I take Christmas gifts very seriously. I’m one of those guys who has his decorations up by Halloween and does as much of his shopping as possible before Thanksgiving. Before the days of reliable internet shopping, that was a lot more challenging.

I actually needed to go out on Black Friday in order to complete my shopping list, picking up whatever I couldn’t find online. It could be stressful at times, especially for certain relatives who are hard to shop for. I also needed some of those Black Friday deals because for years, I had to be very careful with my shopping budget.

Believe me. You learn how to stretch a budget when you try to buy gifts when you’re still in college or just graduated with a sizable amount of loan debt.

Say what you will about those annoying commercials, but some of those Black Friday deals ensured I could get quality gifts for my loved ones that didn’t look overly cheap. It made Christmas morning that much more rewarding. It showed the people I love that I’m willing to go the extra mile for them on the holidays.

These days, I’m not quite as broke. I’m not rich, but I have a somewhat larger budget to work with and that has helped make my holiday shopping a lot more efficient. Thanks to a bunch of lists I maintain on Amazon, I’m usually able to get at least 80 percent of my shopping done before Black Friday. On rare occasions, I get all of it done.

Even so, I gladly venture out on Black Friday. Even if I don’t buy much, I just love taking in the holiday spirit and décor at every mall and shopping center I go to. Plus, going out and actually shopping is very different from just browsing online. When you’re walking around in a mall, it’s a lot easier to randomly come across something that would make a perfect gift that you never would’ve found otherwise.

Some of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever gotten for my family were a direct result of me just randomly browsing stores at the mall. I see them as small Christmas miracles. Last year, it was a lot harder to find those kinds of gifts because of the pandemic. This year, it’s still not completely back to normal, but I genuinely look forward to having a more traditional Black Friday shopping experience.

Hopefully, I find another special gift to give to a friend or loved one.

Even if I don’t, I’m just going to enjoy the holiday ambience that comes with Black Friday. I hope others do the same.

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, Christmas is coming up fast. Today is one of the best possible days to get started on your holiday shopping or finish it. That way, you can spend the rest of December just enjoying the holidays.

In that spirit, Happy Black Friday shopping, everyone! I hope you find something special for someone you love.

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A Thankful Message For Thanksgiving 2021

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s just a brief message of thanks for all those who have helped my channel grow so much over the past year-and-a-half, as well as a personal story to help get everyone in the Thanksgiving spirit. Enjoy!

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My Christmas Tree Is Up And My Christmas Shopping Is (Mostly) Done!

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The holidays are fast approaching. Chances are you’ve already heard Christmas music on the radio. You probably started Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” the day after Halloween. Some people whine about it, claiming Christmas festivities are popping up way too early. They’ll even go so far as to say it undermines the season.

I say to hell with those people. I love it! I love that Christmas decorations start going up as soon as the calendar turns to November. I’ve always loved the festivities and aesthetics of Christmas. Talk to anyone in my family. They’ll tell you the same thing. I love Christmas and I always go the extra mile to make it more awesome.

As such, it should surprise absolutely nobody that I already have my Christmas tree up and decorated. Actually, I’ve had it up for a couple weeks now. I put it up the day after Halloween. I’m sure there’s a healthy debate to be had about when the appropriate time is to put up your Christmas decorations. I would not do well in that debate. I’d get a bit too passionate about my right to put up a Christmas tree on Halloween.

So, rather than debate the merits of having your tree up this early, I thought I’d just take a moment to acknowledge that I take Christmas more seriously than most. I’m the kind of guy who will always want to have his tree up the day after Halloween. If I ever meet that special someone, I’d want them to be part of that tradition, as well.

In addition, I’d also like to acknowledge that this year presents some unique challenges for the holidays. I know that’s a relative statement, given how crazy last year was. Even I had to adapt. I still had all my decorations up early, but my family had to modify their usual holiday activities to work around the pandemic. We still made the most of it. This year, we hope to have some more traditional festivities.

There will still be challenges. There are currently some ongoing issues with respect to supply chains and retail. That’s why I encouraged everyone to do their holiday shopping ASAP. I’ll even belabor that for good measure.

Do your shopping early.

Get your Christmas lists completed now.

You’ll save your Christmas spirit plenty of strain in the long run.

To that end, I’d also like to state that I’m not just blowing smoke. I really practice what I preach here. As of a few days ago, I’ve pretty much completed all my Christmas shopping. Now, I say “pretty much” because I don’t shop for Christmas presents like a normal person. Like I said, I go overboard and I’m proud of it.

My standard practice is that I make a list of all my family members. I then ask them if there’s something specific they want me to get them. Most don’t respond, but those that do get priority. For those that don’t, I try to guess as best I can to get them something they would like. I try to make it personal and sentimental. Some of the gifts I bought years ago still get used today. Those are the gifts I love giving.

However, I rarely stop at one gift. I’ve often been inclined to buy two for each person, often as a hedge in case something I get them doesn’t land. It’s the on time of year when I’m not that frugal with my money. I really make an effort to go the extra mile for the people I love.

Part of that is always being on the lookout for more and better gifts. Even when I’ve got my shopping done, I’ll occasionally go to a mall and just browse. If I ever see something that would just be too perfect, I get it. Every year, it seems, I find something unexpected that makes for a great gift.

So, even though my shopping is done on paper, I’m still on the lookout for other awesome gifts. I don’t know if I’ll come across any. I certainly hope I do. It’s been a rough year and the holidays are the best possible time to make it better. Even if you’re not a big Christmas person like I am, I encourage you to make the effort.

It’s not too late. If anything, the time is perfect to make the holidays this year even more festive.

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I’ve Officially Made Holiday Travel Plans This Year And I Encourage Others To Do The Same!

100 Personal Finance Tips for Holiday Travel - Credit Sesame

Last year sucked for everyone and everything. I know I’ve said that a lot over the past year, but it’s worth belaboring. The COVID-19 pandemic ruined a lot of things and it’s still doing so today. Even though we have vaccines and treatments, the disease is still raging, thanks largely to idiots who refuse to follow science.

However, I don’t want to bemoan that prolonged tragedy.

I want to be a bit more positive this time around. After all, the holidays are upon us. We should try to be more positive, if only to get into the spirit. We have even more incentive than usual. Unlike last year, we’re more able to travel and enjoy traditional holiday activities. If you were stuck at home last year for the holidays and had to change your traditions, that’s a big deal.

To that end, I’m happy to say that I’ve actually finalized some holiday travel plans this year. They’re actually a bit bolder than what I usually do for the holidays. For both Christmas and Thanksgiving, I usually visit family and we usually have a large family gathering to celebrate the season. We couldn’t do that last year and it was rough. The holidays just didn’t feel the same.

This year, however, we’re trying to make up for it. We’re planning a big Thanksgiving gathering that will bring together family we haven’t seen outside a computer screen in nearly three years. That gathering will require more travel than usual. For me, that involves getting on a plane for the first time since before the pandemic.

Now, I’m not usually a fan of flying. It’s not the flight itself that bothers me. It’s navigating the airport that I find so frustrating. However, after last year, I’ll gladly endure it to be part of this gathering.

I also encourage others to do the same. Even if you’re not a fan of air travel or long car rides, make the effort to get away for the holidays. Visit family and interact with them in ways you just can’t match through a computer screen. Get out there and make the most of the holidays.

After last year, we all need it.

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Attention All Holiday Shoppers: Do Your Shopping EARLY This Year!

11 Best Christmas Shopping Tips - How to Do Holidays on a Budget

I love Christmas.

I love the holidays.

It has always been one of my favorite times of the year. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you the same. I take Christmas very seriously. I go out of my way to buy extra gifts and I often spend way more than I intend. However, I gladly pay that price because that’s how much I love the holidays.

Last year was a real challenge for obvious reasons. This year promises to be a bit more traditional and we should welcome that.

However, this year brings with it some new challenges, especially for those who just love waiting until the last minute to do their Christmas shopping. We all know people like that. You yourself might be like that. I understand that not everyone is inclined to be that proactive. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t think less of anyone who has a procrastination problem around the holidays.

That being said, you should make an exception this year. If ever there was a year in which you got your shopping done early, make it this one. The ongoing supply chain issues that we’ve all heard about will have an impact, regardless of whether you do your shopping online or go to a store.

This is not speculation.

This is a warning.

If you want to make sure you get all the gifts you hope to give, either for yourself or your loved ones, do your shopping now.

Don’t wait until Thanksgiving.

Don’t wait until the first week of December.

Do it now.

You family will thank you and your holiday experience will be less stressful overall.

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Happy New Year 2021!

Happy New Year, everyone!

We did it. We made it through 2020. A new year is now upon us.

Usually, New Year is just a formality. However, this time is different. I’ve already highlighted why. I don’t want to belabor it again. Most of us with news feeds already know why 2020 sucked so much.

Instead of harping on how rough the previous year was, I just want to look ahead to 2021. It’s definitely going to be a year of rebuilding. We have a long road ahead of us, but we definitely have the tools to make 2021 much better than 2020. The bar for improvement is very low, but let’s not settle for less.

Today, let’s all just take a step back, take a deep breath, and take some satisfaction in that we made it this far. Quite a few poor souls weren’t as lucky. Let’s acknowledge and honor those who didn’t make it by making 2021 the best year it can possibly be.

Again, the bar is very low. Let’s still put in the extra work. If every there was a year to overcompensate, it’s this one.

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New Years Eve: Just One More Day Of 2020!

It’s almost over, everbody.

The final day of 2020 is upon us.

In any other year, we would use this as an opportunity to wish everyone a happy New Year and to share our New Years plans. This is not just any other year. This is 2020 and it has been historically hellish for reasons that would take too long to list. Now, it’s almost over.

We’ve made it this far. We’ve endured horrible story after horrible story. We navigated times in which time seemed to slow to a crawl. For some, it’s been a special kind of terrible. Let’s at least acknowledge that doctors and front line health care workers have had it the worst.

Now, I know the end of 2020 doesn’t mean an automatic end to everything that made it so awful. There’s still work to be done. We’re still a long way from anything resembling a better world.

If nothing else, 2020 has set the bar so laughably low for improvement that 2021 has no excuses for being at least slightly better. As jaded and broken as I’ve become over this past year, I’m choosing to be hopeful. I really want to believe that 2021 will be a better year. The effort to make it better starts tomorrow.

For now, let’s just get through this last day. We’ve almost made it, people! Just hang in there a little bit longer.

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