I ’m just going to be honest and tell you from the start that I’m not the world’s biggest Christmas fanatic. You won’t catch me listening to Christmas music non- stop or lining up to see “Home Alone” or “A Christmas Story” for the umpteenth time. Maybe it’s because of the insane amount of Christmas-themed commercials and promotions, but I’m usually tired of all the red and green by the time Dec. 25 rolls around. That being said, I don’t want to come off as a total Grinch. There have been many moments throughout my life when something or someone has cut through the noise and hit at the true spirit of the holidays. When those moments happen, I forget all my reservations and remember that Christmas really can be the most wonderful time of the year. The first person to inspire such a feeling in me was my sister. At the time, which had to be about 10 years ago at this point, I was a recently divorced single parent. These were lean years and not always easy ones. We always spend the holidays back in St. Louis with my folks, and one of the city’s big attractions I’d never visited was the City Museum. So when my sister bought tickets for each of my kids and me to go visit the museum, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. But it was what happened when we were there that really blew me away. The City Museum is basically a mix between a traditional museum, an exploratorium, and an obstacle course. At one point, we were tunneling through a hole in the floor. All of the kids managed to make it through just fine, but I wasn’t so lucky. As I was crouched down, struggling to figure out how the heck I was going to get out of there, my kids were eating up every second of it. Then, in a moment that’s etched into my mind to this day, my son looked down at me and said, “Mommy, we’re never going to forget this, are we?” Sure enough, he was right. That moment, provided by the kindness of my sister, showed me what a meaningful gift could do. A few years later, I had the chance to give such a gift — this time to a total stranger. Our church had an Angel Tree, which is a charity that provides gifts to needy families. They mentioned that one family in the program had a son who HOLIDAY CHEER LIVES YOU JUST HAVE TO KNOW WHERE TO LOOK FOR IT
was technically too old to qualify for a gift. This young man was into art, which was a passion of my daughter’s as well. Somebody asked if I’d be willing to pick up a gift for him. Doing so started a tradition of sponsoring a family during the holidays that hasn’t stopped since. Every year, we work with local schools to support families who need a little help to enjoy the holidays. Last year, I even took a member of our Client Advisory Panel with me to shop for our chosen family. As you can probably guess, shopping for gifts is not normally a joy for me, but in this case, it was nothing short of incredible. We had so much fun and knew we were doing something that would brighten Christmas morning for kids in need of a pick-me-up. We may never know the kids receiving the gifts or see the looks on their faces on the big day, but knowing they have a present to open is more than enough for me. I hope you and your family have a way to escape all the commercialism surrounding the holiday season and enjoy the time on your own terms. For me, doing so has entirely changed my opinion of Christmas — just don’t expect me to don a pair of reindeer antlers anytime soon. -Melissa Emery
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According to the Pew Research Center, Christmas is the most celebrated December holiday in the U.S. Yet, like the melting pot it is, the U.S. contains many cultures from across the globe, each with their own traditions. Teach your kids about some of the holiday celebrations from different cultures this season. KWANZAA Created in 1966 by black studies professor Maulana Karenga during the Black Nationalist Movement, Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration and reflection period for African Americans. The week offers African Americans the opportunity to connect with African culture and history by celebrating the seven principles of African heritage, which include unity, self-determination, and creativity. HANUKKAH Hanukkah pays homage to a two-year Jewish rebellion against an oppressive Greek-Syrian government that took them captive in an attempt to eliminate Judaism. The tradition of the eight-day celebration and the lighting of the December is always a “year in review” month. You’ll find lists rating the year’s best movies, songs, sports moments, etc., featured in your favorite magazine or on your favorite websites. While the recaps make for a fun read, one of the most important year-end reviews you undertake this year should be of your auto insurance policy. To help people feel more comfortable with their insurance, we offer free reviews of policies. Finding the weaknesses in your coverage after an accident is not ideal, so a review could be very beneficial for you. The two areas where policies are most often lacking are uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. These types of coverages enable you to still receive a settlement in the event of an uninsured motorist being at fault; or additional settlement funds in the event of the at-fault motorist not having enough coverage. They only kick in when the accident is not your fault. In Kentucky, UM coverage is standard on every policy, but you’d be surprised at how many people waive that coverage unknowingly. LET US REVIEW YOUR AUTO INSURANCE POLICY TEACH YOUR KIDS ABOUT WINTER HOLIDAYS
menorah candles comes from the story of a miracle that happened during the rebellion, when a one-day supply of oil burned for eight days in a temple.
DIWALI Though celebrated in late fall, Diwali is a Hindu holiday that’s known as the festival of lights. Its main purpose is to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, and the five-day festival includes the lighting of candles or lamps, feasting, and giving gifts to family and friends. Diwali also celebrates the Hindu new year and is the largest, most widely celebrated festival in India. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but educating your children about holiday practices other than Christmas will give them a broader worldview and inspire them to gain further knowledge about cultures outside their own. Your local library is a great resource for children’s literature on these holidays, and there are also TV programs from PBS that feature episodes on these traditions. Enjoy the winter holiday season, however you decide to celebrate! FOR FREE At this point, you may be wondering if there are situations where somebody has too much insurance or a coverage they don’t need. The most common occurrence we see is when a client has collision coverage — coverage for damage to their car regardless of fault — but can’t realistically use it because of the high deductible. If you drive an older vehicle or cannot afford to pay a large deductible, you may want to consider restructuring your policy. In our reviews, we analyze every aspect of your policy. We show you what you have, suggest options for improving your coverage, and, when appropriate, can provide you with the contact information for several insurance agents. Our consultations are totally free and take about 30 minutes to complete. We ask that you schedule an appointment and bring your policy declarations page with you, which can be obtained from your insurance agent. Call us today to find out what holes may be hiding in your auto insurance policy. Disclaimer: I am not licensed to sell auto insurance, nor do I benefit in any way from providing policy suggestions. My goal is simply to review your policy and make sure that you have the best coverage for your needs.
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HAVE A LAUGH!
LOCAL HOLIDAY EVENTS
• 10 cups popped popcorn • Salt, to taste • 3 tablespoons sweet cream salted butter • 3 1/2 cups mini marshmallows Sweet, salty, and delicious — this Grinch Popcorn will be popular with kids and adults alike at your “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” movie night. INGREDIENTS 1. Salt popcorn and set aside. 2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. 3. Add 3 cups mini marshmallows to pan and stir until melted. 4. Turn off heat. 5. Add yellow food coloring to the marshmallow mixture. 6. Add a small amount of blue food coloring to the mixture to get the perfect shade of Grinch green. GRINCH POPCORN Inspired by twosisterscrafting.com DIRECTIONS
FESTIVE FUN IN AND AROUND LOUISVILLE
Holidays are times to spend at home with your loved ones, but too many activity-free days can cause cabin fever in a hurry. Luckily, there’s no shortage of awesome events to get you out of the house and into the spirit. Here are a few of my favorites.
LIGHTS UNDER LOUISVILLE When: Seven days a week, beginning Nov. 16 Where: 1841 Taylor Ave. Louisville, KY 40213
• Yellow Wilton Color Right Food Coloring • Blue Wilton Color Right Food Coloring • Red M&M Candies
Billed as “the ONLY underground holiday light show in the world,” Lights Under Louisville gives you a chance to drive your own car through a network of underground passageways that have been illuminated for the season. You’ll have to turn your headlights off, but you won’t need them since the route features more than 3 million lights! Head to lightsunderlouisville.com for a full list of activities, ticket prices, event times, and more.
7. Coat popcorn with
FESTIVAL OF THE NATIVITIES When: Dec. 6–8, 6:30–9:30 p.m. Where: 6401 Westwind Way Crestwood, KY 40014
marshmallow mixture, to taste. 8. Spread coated popcorn on a prepared cookie sheet. 9. Drizzle remaining marshmallow mixture over popcorn. 10. Add 1/2 cup mini marshmallows and red M&M’s while popcorn is still warm. 11. Allow to cool; serve.
Just a short drive from the city, Crestwood’s Festival of the Nativities is a unique chance to see nativity scene displays from all over the world. Put on by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the festival features displays created in Asia, South America, and Europe. In addition to the incredible gallery, there are live nativity reenactments, concerts, activities for kids, and more Christmas cookies than you can eat. The best part is that it’s all totally free. THE BROWN-FORMAN NUTCRACKER Where: Whitney Hall at The Kentucky Center, 501 W. Main St. Louisville, KY 40202 When: Dec. 8–23 If you want to watch a show fit for the holidays, you can do no better than the Louisville Ballet’s version of the Christmas classic “The Nutcracker.” With jaw- dropping sets, beautiful music, intricate costumes, and dancers who seem to defy the laws of physics, it will melt the hearts of even the biggest Scrooges in your family. Visit louisvilleballet.org to buy tickets. Act fast if you’re interested; these shows consistently sell out.
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THE REAL SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS 1 TEACH YOUR KIDS ABOUT HOLIDAYS A FREE REVIEW OF YOUR AUTO INSURANCE 2 LOCAL WINTER WONDERS AND HOLIDAY FUN GRINCH POPCORN 3 EVERYTHING YOU’LL NEED FOR AN UGLY SWEATER CHRISTMAS 4 INSIDE
UGLY SWEATER PARTIES
A FUN TREND YOU CAN EASILY FOLLOW!
I t’s speculated that the first ugly sweater party took place in Vancouver, Canada, back in 2001. Since then, the trend has become one of the most popular holiday party themes. Come Thanksgiving, you’ll start to see racks in all types of clothing stores lined with hideous sweaters. If you’re ready to jump on the ugly-sweater-party bandwagon this Christmas season, here are a few things to keep in mind. YOUR VERY OWN UGLY SWEATER
themed games that should be on the agenda include an ugly gift exchange, which is similar to the white elephant exchange, except with the gaudiest gifts you can find; an ugly photo booth, complete with terrible, tacky props; and, of course, an ugly sweater contest. This is the only time of year when slipping into a lurid red sweater with a stuffed Santa sewn on the front is considered trendy. So adorn yourself in the frumpiest, tackiest sweater you can find, and have some fun this December!
Ugly sweaters come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. You can head to H&M or a local thrift store to pick one up. However, if you have a sweater that’s been cozied up for years in the back of your closet or a drawer, now’s your chance to give it new life. Arm yourself with a hot glue gun, thread, and needle, and patch Santa, Rudolph, or Frosty on it. And let it be known that an ugly sweater isn’t complete without sparkles, beads, and sequins galore.
WHAT EXACTLY IS AN UGLY SWEATER PARTY? It’s rather simple — slip on your favorite
Christmas sweater, gather all your friends and family members, make sure there are plenty of refreshments and games, and you’re guaranteed to have a top-tier party. A few ugly-sweater-
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