Stubbins, Watson, Bryan & Witucky - December 2020



It’s a movie that takes place on Christmas Eve at a Christmas party. It’s about a man realizing the importance of reconnecting with his loved ones and going to extreme lengths to do so. It also features popular Christmas songs such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Let It Snow!” and “Jingle Bells” throughout its run time. I am, of course, talking about the 1988 action-adventure movie, “Die Hard.” I had you going there for a second, didn’t I? Depending on who you talk to, “Die Hard” is either one of their favorite Christmas movies or simply a fun action movie that has no place in the upper echelon of esteemed Christmas classics like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Story,” or even “Elf.” And while I could write an entire article about why “Die Hard” is or isn’t a Christmas movie, I think this debate illuminates a much larger question: What makes a Christmas movie a Christmas movie? To prove that this debate is still alive and well — and that it stretches far beyond the adventures of John McClane mowing down terrorists in Nakatomi Plaza — I want to throw out another movie contentiously trying to join the holiday film ranks: “Iron Man 3.” You might laugh, but first consider that last year, Marvel’s official Twitter account confirmed that the third installment of the “Iron Man” trilogy was, in fact, a Christmas movie. And who are we to disagree? Interestingly enough, it does actually abide by much of the same criteria that supporters of “Die Hard” use to make their Christmas movie claim: It takes place around the holiday season, and the final battle happens on Christmas Eve. It features Christmas songs, and there is a snarky reference to the movie “A Christmas Story,” made by king of quips Tony Stark. Stark even covertly dispatches terrorists at one WHAT MAKES A CHRISTMAS MOVIE A CHRISTMAS MOVIE ? Do You Think ‘Die Hard’ or ‘Iron Man 3’ Are Christmas Movies?

H ello everyone! Once again we are well into the busy holiday season. I hope that you will take a break during this time of year to spend time with family and friends. I know that it has been a crazy year for everyone. We’ve experienced COVID, lockdowns, riots, natural disasters and political unrest. I am not sure about you, but I am ready for 2021 to get here! Having said that, one thing I have noticed this year is the resilience of people and the ability to adapt. I have really been impressed with our attorneys and the rest of our team and their ability to take this year in stride. I think we have done an incredible job not only getting through these tough times, but still providing quality service for our clients. I would also like to compliment all of our clients as well. We could not do what we do without your patience, understanding, and loyalty. You make it easy to have a great experience. Thanks everyone!

I hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See you in 2021!


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point in the film, and while this detail doesn’t make “Iron Man 3” more of a Christmas film, it’s still an interesting parallel between it and “Die Hard.” Convinced as you might be about the status of these action- adventure movies as holiday films, they do have a few strikes against them. For starters, both of these films were actually summer blockbusters. Neither film was released during the Christmas season. But, if you think that disqualifies them, keep in mind that “Miracle on 34th Street” was also released during the summer, and I don’t think anyone is rushing to disqualify that movie — whose main character is Santa Claus — just because it wasn’t released in December.

Another possible reason why “Die Hard” and “Iron Man 3” might not be categorized as Christmas movies is that neither of their plots hinge on the holidays. You could take the holiday out of these movies without affecting any of the crucial plot elements. Christmas in these movies is like extra tinsel on a tree — it might make the final product a little more flashy, but it’s still just a superficial decoration. However, not even this argument is rock solid. Take a look at the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Only a fraction of the film actually takes place on Christmas Eve, but the film’s themes of regret and thankfulness, much like a well-rooted pine tree, are evergreen. If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to look at some of the homages to this holiday classic that don’t have any Christmas elements, such as “13 Going On 30,” Adam Sandler’s “Click,” and even “Shrek 4.” At this point, no matter which side of the Christmas movie debate you’re on, you might be throwing your hands up in the air. However, I don’t want to leave you without an answer to my original question, so let me just say this: A Christmas movie is whatever movie gets you in the Christmas spirit, which varies from person to person. So, whether that means watching Scott Calvin gripe about sliding down chimneys in “The Santa Clause” or watching John McClane gripe about sliding through air ducts, if it signals the start of the Christmas season and makes you feel festive, go ahead and throw it on the TV.

As a business leader, you’re likely well-versed in making decisions, but in the midst of a global health crisis, a political minefield, and environmental disasters, planning for the upcoming year is different territory for even the most seasoned business professionals. So, how do you make the right decisions for your 2021 plans? Start with these three steps. No. 1: Look at the data. Data has never steered you wrong before, so don’t stop using it now. However, you have to use the right data and contextualize it with today’s lenses. For example, when choosing a new marketing campaign or direction, continue looking at the cost, revenue, potential errors, and risk factors. Use those to make an informed decision about which step to take. For example, is the campaign empathetic to the needs of your clients, or will it come off as tone-deaf? ( Hint: Try split testing in 2020 before fully deploying a new campaign in 2021!) No. 2: Don’t go with the status quo. “This is how we’ve always done it” will kill your business. Nothing is the same as it was just one year ago. The entire world has transformed, and attempting to continue with what’s “normal” will only cause you to miss what could be . As you plan for 2021, consider the abnormal. Look at options you would have never considered doing and test their efficacy. If DECISIONS, DECISIONS Tactics for Making the Best Business Choices

one fails, move on. But there’s a big chance that you may stumble into something that is totally unique and completely worth your time.

No. 3: Embrace change. You’ve set your course. You have your team in place. You’re excited to begin. Now, get ready to change everything. Sounds exhausting, right? But it can happen. Rather than being resistant to what isn’t working, admit defeat and move on. If there’s one benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that we were all given a crash course on how to adapt quickly. Take those lessons and apply them to your 2021 plan. Be prepared to admit when your original plan isn’t working because staying on an ineffective course can do more harm than good.

Don’t avoid it. Planning for 2021 is necessary — even if you need to change course quickly.

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Snowed In for Christmas? It’s Board Game Time! 3 New Games to Entertain You Through the Holidays

2. Half Truth: Brilliant Minds Meet Here If you’re a fan of Trivial Pursuit, you’ll love Half Truth. At its heart, it’s a trivia game, but it ups the stakes by giving players the opportunity to bet on how many correct answers they’ll get. Really though,

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the games are so delightful …”

Those might not be the exact lyrics from the famous Christmas carol, but it’s true that decks of cards and various board games get many families through the holiday season. You can only rewatch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” so many times before the jokes grow stale. While new movie

there’s only one thing you need to know about this game, and Thrillist said it best: “It’s the brainchild of legendary Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield and 74-time Jeopardy! winner Ken Jennings.” What a pedigree! Everyone 12 and over will want a seat at the table. 3. getCrewd: A Playground for Movie Buffs getCrewd is a card game that comes in a retro-style film can, and that single trait speaks volumes. In this PG-13- rated game, you play a film producer in search of the

releases can be fun, many have been stalled this year because of the pandemic. Luckily, board games are still coming out on schedule. If you’re on the hunt for alternatives to Monopoly, Clue, and Scrabble, check out these fresh 2020 games, which all come recommended by the experts at Thrillist.

1. The Alpha: A Nature Lover’s Dream Game If your childhood dream was joining a wolf pack like Mowgli in “The Jungle Book,” this is the board game for you! The Alpha is a beautifully illustrated strategic game where players act as pack leaders and compete with other players to acquire territory and snag the best food. Gameplay is done in rounds that include four stages: stalk, chase, resolve, and advance. The game is rated for 3–6 players ages 10 and up.

perfect actor, director, and crew to make your movie happen. However, the deck will keep throwing obstacles in your way, including everything from flash floods to writers’ strikes. If you have a competitive side, you’ll love this mad scramble to the finish line.

With these games in your cabinet, you won’t even notice the snowbanks outside!

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NOT YOUR GRANDMA’S FRUITCAKE Fruitcake gets a bad rap, but when made correctly, it’s delicious! Try this recipe to upend your preconceived dessert notions.


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1 tsp baking soda 1 cup sour cream

1 stick butter 1 cup sugar

3 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit of your choice, chopped 1 cup nuts of your choice, chopped 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

1 egg, room temperature

Zest of 1 orange

1 tsp salt



Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with greased baking paper. Ensure the piece running the length of the pan stands 1 inch above each side to form “handles.” In a small bowl, mix baking soda and sour cream. In a second bowl, combine fruit, nuts, and 1/4 cup flour. In a third bowl, beat butter and sugar

until fluffy. Add egg, zest, and sour cream mixture. Then, add remaining flour and salt. Mix, then add fruit mixture. Pour batter into lined pan. Fill up a separate loaf pan halfway with water. Bake both pans in oven for 1 1/2–2 hours or until a skewer leaves the cake clean. Use “handles” to remove cake from pan and cool completely on a rack before serving.








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INSIDE THIS ISSUE From the Desk of Mike PAGE 1 What Makes a Christmas Movie a Christmas Movie ? PAGE 1 Tactics for Making the Best Business Choices PAGE 2 3 New Board Games to Try This Winter PAGE 3 Take A Break PAGE 3 Not Your Grandma’s Fruitcake PAGE 3 Winter Road Trip Essentials You Didn’t Know You Needed PAGE 4

A DRIVER’S GUIDE TO SAFE HOLIDAY TRAVELS Winter Road Trip Essentials You Didn’t Know You Needed

On Sept. 24, 2019, more than 2.5 million people passed through TSA checkpoints at airports across America. On the same date this year, those terminals saw just 826,316 travelers — a nearly 70% drop. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Americans have been thinking twice about air travel, and this holiday, millions of would-be flyers will set out on road trips instead. Road tripping is a great way to avoid contact with a lot of people, but it can also be dangerous, especially in winter weather. Fortunately, you can take several steps to keep your family safe. Getting your car checked before you go, for example, can save you a lot of hassle on the road, as can investing in a set of snow tires. It’s also smart to take precautions such as letting a friend or family member know your route, predicted arrival time, and where you plan to stop for gas along the way.

Apart from that, one of the best things you can do is pack an emergency kit. AAA sells premade kits through outlets like Amazon, and you can find a basic kit with things like jumper cables, ponchos, rope, batteries, pliers, zip ties, and a first-aid kit at pretty much any Walmart or sporting goods store. You could even save a life by adding a few more essentials to your kit, like a blanket, snacks, and an extra cellphone charger.

driving, there are three more little-known items you should stash in your trunk: a shovel, a bag of sand or cat litter, and an extra bottle of windshield wiper fluid. If you get stuck in a snowbank, the shovel will help you dig your way out without risking frostbitten fingers. The sand or cat litter will boost your traction if you sprinkle it around your wheels in an icy spot, and the extra wiper fluid will make all the difference if you run out during a snowstorm.

At this point, you’re almost a safety black belt. But to take your kit to the next level for winter

Once you’re prepared, crank up the Christmas carols and get driving!

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