by Max Barry

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Region: Texas

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen of Texas!

Today is:
National Christmas Movie Marathon Day
National Roots Day

Quotes of the Day:

“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.”- Thomas S. Monson

“I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included.”- Bernard Manning

“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six: Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.”- Shirley Temple

“Impossible is for the unwilling.”- John Keats

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.”- Christopher Reeve

“Keep going. Be all in.”- Bryan Hutchinson

“My life is my argument.”- Albert Schweitzer

“Whatever you do, do with all your might.”- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Music of the Day:

A Christmas Song for 2020: Let the Light In (Peter Hollens Original)

Why [Steve Cash’s] kitty cat hates Christmas: I dont give a damn about Christmas - A Song by Sylvester

On This Day In History:
1954 The first human kidney transplant is performed by Dr. Joseph E. Murray at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts
1968 Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders become the 1st men to orbit the
1975 US Congress passes Metric Conversion Act
1997 A Channukah candle is officially lighted in Vatican City for the 1st time to celebrate Hanukkah and to reconcile Roman Catholics and Jews
2016 United Nations Security Council adopts a landmark resolution demanding a halt to all Israeli settlement in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967. Resolution 2334 was moved by New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela and passed 14-0 with a US abstention.


Festivus is on December 23 and it’s perfect for those who don’t have a traditional holiday to celebrate. Although it sounds paradoxical, its purpose makes a lot of sense. Not everyone has a major holiday to celebrate like Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa and they can feel left out. This holiday gives many people a non-denominational and non-commercial holiday to call their own. Festivus is for everybody!

The world was made aware of Festivus in a “Seinfeld” episode. TV Writer Dan O’Keefe’s father, Daniel O’Keefe, found a reference to an obscure holiday and celebrated it in 1966. At the time, he was doing research for his book “Stolen Lightning” which explored astrology, cults, and paranormal activity. He chose the date of December 23 to celebrate it because it was the anniversary of his first date with his wife.

In the 1997 episode of “Seinfeld” titled, “The Strike” George Castanza is the one who celebrates Festivus. The holiday was created by his father Frank and they celebrated it throughout George’s childhood. Instead of a tree or menorah, an aluminum pole was the symbol of Festivus. They’d have a dinner of meatloaf as the main course and afterward, they had “Feats of Strength” and “Airing of Grievances” traditions. In the latter, people could bring up what disappointed them about the previous year’s gifts.

Because of the show’s popularity and the catchphrase “A Festivus for the rest of us,” Festivus took on a life of its own. People related to the message of inclusion and the zaniness of it all and created their own traditions from it. In 2004, Dan confessed that the real tradition was even more peculiar than on the show. There wasn’t a pole, but there were airings of grievances that they recorded on a tape recorder.

In 2009, Dan O’Keefe gave further insight into the famous catchphrase. “A Festivus for the rest of us” was a family Festivus motto. After the death of his paternal grandmother, it took on the positive meaning of looking towards the future and a reminder to appreciate life and the living.

The First Festivus

Daniel O'Keefe celebrates the anniversary of his first date with his wife and the day became known as Festivus based on an obscure holiday.

TV Sensation

An episode of “Seinfeld” features Festivus, written by Daniel’s son and the public is introduced to the holiday.

Secrets of Festivus

TV writer Dan O’Keefe reveals that there are more peculiar traditions left out of the episode like using a tape recorder to record the grievances.

Let the dead bury the dead

Dan O’Keefe reveals that the Festivus catchphrase is meant as a reminder to look to the future in his family.

What does Festivus mean?

Festivus is a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 as a religious holiday season alternative. The name most likely is a combination of “Festive us”, you know, like “for the rest of us.”

Do people really celebrate Festivus?
Ever since “Seinfeld” brought the holiday to the masses, many people participate in celebrating Festivus as a Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza alternative.

Who came up with Festivus?
The original idea of Festivus was created by author Daniel O’Keefe, father to “Seinfeld” writer Dan O’Keefe.

Reenact the traditions from the show

The traditions of Festivus in “Seinfeld” are good for a laugh. Construct an aluminum pole and display it prominently as you have meatloaf on a bed of lettuce with your family and friends. Show off your strength with an (arm) wrestling match then playfully air your grievances. If you’re uninterested in any of these games, per the rules you can decline participation as long as you have something better to do.

Make your own traditions
The best thing about Festivus is that by its very nature it doesn’t subscribe to any one set of traditions. This gives you the right to celebrate the holiday however you’d like. Instead of meatloaf, you can make your favorite meal, and instead of airing your grievances, everyone can tell their favorite joke. No tradition is too ridiculous for Festivus.

Have a “Seinfeld” Marathon
Since “Seinfeld” is responsible for its massive appeal, it seems only fitting to honor the show itself. Have a marathon of your favorite “Seinfeld” episodes, making sure to include Festivus, and share it with your loved ones. Be warned, afterward, you’ll probably be quoting the characters for days.

Google it

Google introduced a custom search result in 2012 for the term Festivus with an unadorned aluminum pole.

O, aluminum pole
You can purchase your own Festivus pole on Amazon.

Florida recognizes Festivus
A resident of Deerfield Beach, Florida, petitioned for a Festivus pole to stand next to the Capitol building’s Christmas tree and nativity scene and he won.

“Seinfeld” gets social
The #AiringofGrievances hashtag has been used to complain about various issues on social media.

What might not have been
Dan O’Keefe didn’t originally want to include an episode about Festivus, but he was convinced otherwise.

The pressure is off

So many other holidays require a lot of hard work in order for them to be successful. From the gift-giving to the expectations of dress, it can be a time that people dread for fear of failure. Festivus has a very casual and playful charm where you can relax and treat it more like a game than an obligation.

You can customize it
Traditions can be fun, but they can also be limiting. With Festivus, you can keep what you want and throw out what you don’t want. There are no rules against including some of the traditions that you’re fond of, and that makes it more personal.

The meaning of Festivus
While it might seem like a long-running joke, it’s truly a meaningful holiday. Holiday traditions can feel exclusive to certain groups. This opens the holiday season to those that would prefer to celebrate secular holiday traditions. Festivus is inclusive.

National Christmas Movie Marathon Day

National Christmas Movie Marathon Day is celebrated annually on December 23. Get ready to snuggle in your warm blanket with a mug of hot chocolate and your favorite holiday snacks! There are so many ways to get into the spirit of Christmas and we just love curling up on the couch for a movie marathon with our favorite Christmas movies. Whether you are in the mood for a classic or a rom-com, it is surprising just how many genres are covered by Christmas centered movies. Anyone up for a Christmas horror flick?

Just like we all start listening to Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ in December every year, we all have our favorite Christmas movies that we return to over and over again. It’s such a great way to get festive! Whether it is the mischievous Grinch or the heartwarming stories in ‘Love Actually,’ Christmas movies come packed with warm nostalgia.

Christmas movies have been around for a long time and range over a number of categories from romance to comedy to horror. The world’s first Christmas movie was a silent short made in 1898, titled ‘Santa Claus.’ Directed by George Albert Smith and at just over a minute long, this was the first time that Santa Claus graced the screens. The film was about two children who are eagerly waiting for Santa Claus to make his appearance but are ordered to sleep. During the night, Santa slides down the chimney and leaves presents for the children. With jump cut scenes, double exposure, and superimposition, the short movie was ahead of its time.

A lot of the early Christmas films were short movies. Following a couple of adaptations of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and a few war centred Christmas flicks, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was a breakthrough Christmas movie in 1946.

Since then, Christmas has been the backdrop for many movies; kids movies like ‘Gremlins,’ the 1990’s blockbuster ‘Home Alone,’ and ‘Elf.’ The choice of what to watch has expanded and you won’t be short of options on National Christmas Movie Marathon Day. Whether your go-to is Elf, Home Alone, A Muppets Christmas Carol, or all three, this is a holiday that is all about putting your feet up and enjoying your favorite Christmas movies back to back.

The first Christmas movie

‘Santa Claus’ was released.

Spooky Christmas

Silent Night, Bloody night broadened the potential of Christmas horror filmmaking.

Behold, ugly Christmas sweaters!

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation popularized the use of the term ‘ugly Christmas sweater.’

Frozen Fever

Disney released its 3D animation ‘Frozen’ which broke all records and created a sensation for years to come.

Something for everyone!

Hallmark Channel airs its first LGBTQ centered Christmas movie.


What channel has Christmas movies?

The majority of the popular TV networks like Freeform, AMC, ABC, Hallmark, Lifetime, as well as local cable channels, have Christmas movies. Check out their holiday movies schedule and plan your marathon ahead!

What is the most viewed Christmas movie?
Polls and online forums have declared that the most popular Christmas movie is ‘Home Alone.’

Will Hallmark have new Christmas movies in 2020?
Keeping up with its annual schedule, there will be a total of 40 brand new movies this holiday season on Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Binge on your favorite flicks!

Make a list of your favorite Christmas movies and watch them back to back. The holiday season can be hectic with shopping and social events, and so it’s great to have a day of chilled-out movie watching set aside for you and your family.

Host a watch-party
Virtual or in your living room, you can make this a part of your annual holiday traditions and host a Christmas movie watch party. Have it with your friends and family, or you can host a virtual party via in-browser extensions like ‘Teleparty.’

Try a new film
It’s great to revisit your old favorites, but try and throw something new into the mix. You never know, in five years time that may count as an old favorite too.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

George Bailey is down on his luck and an angel from heaven is sent to show him what life would have been like if he was never born. A wholesome, feel-good movie.

Home Alone (1990)
During Christmas vacation, eight-year-old Kevin is accidentally left behind by his family and ends up protecting his house against a couple of burglars. This movie is voted as the most popular Christmas film on many forums and polls.

Elf (2003)
After the revelation that he is a human and not an elf, Buddy travels from the North Pole to New York City to find his real father.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
The beloved Muppet characters re-enact their version of Charles Dickens’s classic novel ‘A Christmas Carol.’

Gremlins (1984)
A boy unintentionally breaks three rules about keeping his new pet, resulting in the unleashing of a horde of mischievous little monsters all over town.

Love Actually (2003)
The love lives of eight different couples are followed in interrelated stories all set against the beautiful backdrop of the Christmas season in London. With its star-studded cast, this movie is one of the best romantic comedies set around the holiday season.

Better Watch Out (2016)
If you are looking for something to send chills down your spine, this one’s for you. A babysitter must safeguard a twelve-year-old from intruders, only to find out that it is more than just an ordinary home invasion.

A Christmas Carol (1999)
If the Muppets are not for you, go for one of our favorite live version adaptations of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ with a spectacular performance from Patrick Stewart as Mr. Scrooge.

Die Hard (1988)
It has long been debated whether Die Hard qualifies as a Christmas movie, but hey, we want to give as many diverse movie choices as we can. When a Christmas party turns into a hostage situation by German terrorists, an NYPD officer must save the day.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
We love the weird and wonderful world of Dr. Seuss. This movie, based on the book of the same name, is about a quirky green character, The Grinch, who hates Christmas and is set on ruining it for the citizens of Whoville, for whom Christmas is the highlight of the year.

Bah, Humbug!

There really is no greater time of the year than Christmas. However, it can understandably be stressful for many. Feel-good movies are a great way to relax and unwind and beat that ‘Scrooge’ feeling.

Ongoing Traditions.
Times have changed, and we are grateful for classic Christmas traditions that are timeless. Bingeing on Christmas movies is a great way to connect with the young ones and introducing them to your favorite feature films.

The spirit of Christmas across borders.
Christmas may not be celebrated by everyone, but Christmas movies sure are loved by all! Whether it is Asia or Australia, Christmas movies are watched and enjoyed by people all over the world.

National Roots Day

National Roots Day on December 23 gives people a chance to delve into and reflect on their family’s heritage, history, and ancestry. The holiday season is the perfect time to learn about your ancestors and collect family information. There is always that one family member who has taken on the role of the family historian and eagerly shares memories and stories around the dinner table. While it is a tedious process (if you decide to really dig deep), it is worth tracing your lineage. You may be related to Elvis Presley for all you know, or someone who was part of an important historical event.

Family comes first, and the Christmas season is the ideal time for a traditional holiday like Roots Day, illustrating the significance of family, especially during these times. The festive season is the one time of year in which the whole family comes together, so it is only fitting that ancestral heritage is celebrated during this period. Although the exact origin of this day is unknown, Roots Day has been around for more than 40 years.

The United States of America has welcomed immigrants from all over the world. These settlers changed their names and adopted the local cuisine and customs, just like any other blue-blooded American. Such is the diversity, that the nation has been referred to as a melting pot of cultural assimilation. But as multiculturalism is becoming more and more widespread, we’ll naturally have an interest in our past.

As we learn about our family heritage, we often understand our parents and grandparents better, and even ourselves. National Roots Day celebrates this impulse to dig deeper into our ancestry.

On this day, memories are shared and assembled for a better understanding of our predecessors and their lives. Before these memories fade and the details start to get fuzzy, it is better to have them assembled and linked. The participation of every generation is encouraged in discovering the struggles and accomplishments of our families’ lineages. Stories of each generation whose efforts, successes, and failures have all contributed to shaping us as a person should be documented.

Immigration Numbers Peak

Immigration to the US peaks, with 1.3 million settlers entering through Ellis Island alone.

Gush of Immigration

After the U.S. War of 1812 against Britain, there is an explosion of immigration from Western Europe to the US.

Charles II of Spain

Charles II of Spain is born, the result of 16 generations of inbreeding, which leads him to suffer from many physical disabilities.

11th Century
Surnames Were Adopted

Last names or surnames are not in use until the 11th Century, starting in Europe.

When did start?

Starting from a compact-disc version and evolving into an online resource, was established in 1996.

How do I look up my ancestors for free?
Although not as thorough, there are a number of directories available online like RootsWeb and FamilySearch, for looking up your ancestors for free.

Why is family important?
From the time we are born, our family is the most integral and important influence in the formation of our personality and habits. Our parents and siblings are our first teachers and role models, laying the foundation for our behaviors and traits.

Make a family tree

Sirius Black’s family tree at 12 Grimmauld Place is the inspiration here. Ok, not really, but you get the idea. Collect as much information as you can from your grandparents, parents, and uncles and aunts, and create an interlinked family tree. You can even have one professionally made to be displayed.

Share stories with the young ones
Just like Ted Mosby made his kids sit and listen to how he met their mother, get the youngsters of the family together and fill them in on stories, not only of how grandpa met grandma, but also any significant historical events your family was involved in.

Research through a service
If your family findings are not sufficient or you’d like to really go into the nitty-gritty, make use of an ancestry service like where you can find everything you need to know about your genealogy.

There are four groups of surnames

Surnames are based on occupation, places or geographical locations, appearances or nicknames, or they are patronymic — derived from the name of a father or male ancestor.

An outbred family tree
Tracing back eight generations, the majority of people will have an astounding 256 ancestors

It’s in the name
Immigrants entering the United States through Ellis Island didn’t have their names changed. If the spelling of your surname was changed, it was shortened by your ancestor or translated into English.

Symbols on headstones
You must have seen symbols on some headstones in cemeteries. Most of them have meanings and are related to the family that the deceased person belonged to.

Age difference
If you ever research family members who served in World Wars, try inputting different birthdates. Ages were often exaggerated to meet the enlistment requirements.

Honoring your family name and history

Your family has come a long way. There have been so many disputes fought, and great work done by our ancestors. It will truly be a shame if these events are lost to the sands of time and not preserved for future generations to look back on and learn from.

A chance for self-reflection
As we learn more about our lineage, we also discover more about ourselves and understand our traits and habits better. It is a wonderful experience to be able to reflect on our families and how their lives eventually shaped ours.

Bridging cultural differences
Although family trees and roots are personal, they are extended to other cultures. Perhaps a person’s origins are completely different from who they are today. Delving into our roots fosters respect and appreciation for different cultures and nations.

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Advent Calendar
Dec 23, 2020

It’s Not That Complicated
The Story:

There was once a very wise man living in ancient times. He was elderly and educated and held knowledge and books to the highest regard.

One day while on a walk, he realized that his shoes were really starting to wear out. Because he spent a lot of time walking on a daily basis, he knew he had to find the best shoes to support and protect his feet. But, back then, this wasn’t such an easy task, as he couldn’t jump online to do some research and have shoes delivered to his door.

The man didn’t want to make things worse by purchasing the wrong shoes and having inadequate protection, which would lead to injuries and the inability to leave his home and walk to find new books to read.

The man gathered all of the books he could that were written by only those that he admired the most to search for the answer to his question, “What do I do if my shoes have fallen apart?”

He read through several books for many hours before finding out that he had no choice but to go buy a new pair of shoes. He then spent a lot of time reading about how to know if a pair of shoes fits properly. Once he was satisfied with the answers he found, he was proud of himself for doing the research and he felt confident in his ability to buy a high-quality replacement for his old shoes. He figured if he hadn’t done his research, he probably would have gone barefoot for the rest of his life, as he had no one to tell him how to fix his shoes.

Following the books’ instructions, the man took a stick and measured his foot with it. He then went to the market and finally came upon a pair of shoes that he liked. However, he realized he had left the stick back at home, which was far away from the shop.

By the time the man returned to the market, the shop was closed. And, by that point, his shoes were completely split, so he had to return home barefoot.

The next morning, he walked back to the market with bare feet, but the shoes that he had chosen the day before had been sold. The wise man explained what had happened to the shopkeeper, who reacted with a sense of surprise, asking, “Why didn’t you buy the shoes yesterday?”

The wise man replied, “Because I forgot the stick that I had used to measure my feet back home. And anyone who knows anything about shoes knows that you have to have the correct measurements of your feet before you can buy shoes. I didn’t want to buy the wrong size, and I was following the normal instructions.”

Even more confused, the shopkeeper asked, “But your foot was with you, why didn’t you just try the shoes on?”

The wise man was equally confused in return and responded, “All the books say shoes must be bought with the exact same measurements of the shoes you already own.”

Laughing, the shop owner replied “Oh, no! You don’t need the advice from books to buy shoes. You just need to have your feet, some money, and some common sense to not complicate things.”

The Moral:

Sometimes you need to take action without overthinking things. Knowledge often comes in handy, but in some circumstances, if you lack experience or common sense, your knowledge will only get you so far. In fact, it could make things seem a lot more complicated than they actually are.

If you’re facing an issue, don’t forget to use your reasoning skills in addition to anything you’ve learned in a formal learning environment.


Yip Man wrote:Bingo!:


Nyah ha ha ha! We have a Winner! Yip Man has won this round of BINGO as well. Congratulations Buddy! :)

Winners do not go away empty handed - They must win a prize and for winning this round of Bingo, your prize will be one card from my deck of Trading Cards on my nations: Fort Verden, Elven King Thranduil, Little Thranduil and Verner Von Richthofen. Choose your prize and I will send it to you Buddy.

I am waiting for NewTexas to choose his prize. After Big Tex has chosen his prize, Yip Man will choose his prize.


Have an absolutely fantastic, healthy and safe day everyone!

Your Buddy Verner