VanDyk Mortgage - December 2017

Dec 2017

Letters From The Hart Give us a call! 239-437-4278 or visit Corporate NMLS #3035

Every year, when my wife and kids ask me what I want for Christmas, I draw a blank. I know it’s not useful to them, but really — and this is going to sound cheesy — I feel like I already have everything I need. Ever since about high school, I’ve never much gone for the “stuff-centered” parts of the holiday season, at least for myself. All I care about is that my wife and kids have a blast and that we set aside some time to all hang out together. These days, Christmas is a lot more relaxed than it was in the past. We used to have to cruise all over town, from my parents’ house to my in-laws’ to everywhere in between. Now, my mom and the in-laws make the trip out to us. My mom spends the night on Christmas Eve and joins us for the following day’s celebrations. Then, we’ll all take turns opening gifts throughout the day, just ambling around, chatting, and laughing. That way, we avoid the “pack of hyenas” strategy where everybody just falls on the pile of presents in a frenzy like it’s a downed caribou and you can’t tell who’s opening what or who received what from whom. The tricky part nowadays is to avoid spoiling the kids. Come mid-October, Amazon packages start showing up on our porch nearly every day, and it gets to the point where we’re practically on a first-name basis with the neighborhood UPS guy. But, of course, the kids love it. My middle son was literally putting together his Christmas list in late July, just adding anything interesting that came into his line of sight. When you’re shopping, you need to find that delicate balance between getting the kids bigger-ticket items and having enough small stuff that nobody feels shortchanged on the big day. Admittedly, this job is mostly up to my wife — if anything were to happen to her, my kids’ Christmas would be a complete disaster. And when it comes to gifts for her, I’ve learned a few lessons. Namely, never get her anything that involves the kitchen without asking her if it’s something she really needs. EVERYTHING I COULD POSSIBLY WANT What I Love Most About Christmas

Last year, my mom gave perhaps one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever seen. For each one of the kids, she gave them a little photo book with a story about my late dad, chock-full of pictures of each kid and their grandpa. Not only was it emotional for me — I’ll be the first to admit that I cried like a baby when I first saw the books — it was unreal for the kids, as well. I still see my oldest pulling it off the shelf and flipping through it every once in a while. When you’re a little kid, memories of your loved ones can easily blur and distort, so it was just so meaningful for all of us to have those little mementos. I can’t even imagine how emotional it must have been to put the books together for my mom, too. I deeply appreciate all of the work she put in. But whether it’s a steamer basket I get for my wife that quickly turns into the butt of an ongoing Christmas morning joke, or an incredibly thoughtful and meaningful gift from my mother, we all have fun spending time together. For me — and I’m sure many parents will agree — the gifts are secondary to being able to sit down in a room together to enjoy each other’s company. Call me cheesy, but that’s what the holidays are all about.

– Tim Hart NMLS #354676

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What’s there to do in Fort Myers this time of year? Well, we may not get snow, but what we lack in white powder we make up for with plenty of holiday entertainment. Whichever of these festivities you go to, experience our holiday spirit on display throughout December. The first stop we recommend is Holiday Nights at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, where you’ll be dazzled as you stroll amongst historic buildings decorated with thousands of lights. Year-round, the Estates show off the actual labs of one of America’s foremost inventors, but they really pull out all the stops Nov. 24 through Dec. 31 when the buildings and gardens are illuminated

“dashboard, the technology that powers his sleigh during his around-the-world journey.” Featuring “the latest and greatest … in sleigh engineering,” the app displays a Google Maps window that tracks each of Santa’s stops, gives status updates from Old Saint Nick, and tells kids how far he is from their city. It’s a colorful, fun adventure for the whole family. Of course, Google’s not the only kid on the Santa-tracking block. There’s also NORAD Tracks Santa , operated by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the same organization that tracks nuclear missiles for the government. Similar to Google, includes a variety of fun games and activities leading up to Christmas. But unlike Google, NORAD has a dedicated Santa-tracking app for your phone, where you can see a 3-D view of Santa’s location during his trip. The app also features videos, so you and your little ones can see clips of Santa flying around major landmarks and world cities. Just don’t stay up too late watching them. You don’t want Santa to skip over your house! Kicking off the weekend after Thanksgiving, the Captiva Holiday Village captures Fort Myers’ unique, tropical flair during three weeks of celebration. From Nov. 25 to Dec. 24, the small island community becomes a winter wonderland, and they put on so many great events that you might have to visit more than once. A tree lighting ceremony begins the celebration, followed by fireworks. Throughout December, check out the beach bonfires, Sunset Arias, and a Luminary Stroll that includes free goodies presented by local merchants. For the crescendo, watch the parade of decorated golf carts, live bands, and dancers as they march off into the beach sunset.

spending Christmas Eve curled on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa as radio reports tracked Santa’s trip around the globe. But these days, kiddos have gotten a little more high-tech in their search for up- to-date, GPS-driven Kringle updates. First, there’s the Google Santa Tracker (, a full-fledged holiday hub for your browser powered by Google Maps, including, of course, an up-to-the-minute GPS tracker for the big man. The application arrived in 2004, and it’s been updated every year since. During the countdown to Christmas, there’s a colorfully animated advent calendar of sorts, where buildings around Santa’s village “thaw out” and reveal a host of fun games and activities. There’s even a section titled “Santa Tracker for Educators,” which includes kid-friendly coding games, information on international holiday traditions, and a translation app to “learn the Santa lingo from around the world.” by thousands of Edison’s inventions. Here’s another reason to go this month: Holiday Nights is the only time of year the grounds stay open past sunset. Live music, refreshments, carriage rides, and Santa himself are just a few of the reasons you’ll want to visit. If you prefer to go coastal, the Christmas Boat Parade on Dec. 2 showcases the beachside beauty of Fort Myers. This “back bay” celebration takes place in Estero Bay, where they go all out with marine decorations. Boat owners adorn their decks with lights and Christmas decorations to create a glowing bayside scene. We suggest you grab a bite from one of the local restaurants or bars that line the harbor and enjoy the spectacle of all the decorated boats.


It’s almost Christmas, and if you have small kids, you know what that means: prepping for the arrival of a jolly man in a red suit and his confusingly named reindeer. Some of us may remember

When the eve of the big day finally comes, Google promises a showcase of Santa’s

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3 CREATIVE Gift Wrap Alternatives

designs guarantee your gifts will be one of a kind. And don’t worry if there are notes scrawled across the paper. Old events or directions will add some unique flair to the presents. Furoshiki Fabric is an excellent substitute for wrapping paper. You can use a scarf to create two gifts in one or pull out scraps of fabric from old projects. The traditional Japanese practice of furoshiki is all about wrapping goods in fabric. Described as “functional fabric origami,” you’d be amazed at how a few well-placed folds can turn your gift into a work of art. Learn how to wrap anything, from boxes to bottles, at You don’t have to follow the same gift wrap habits year after year. After the effort you put into finding just the right present, you should be able to make your gift wrap just as special. Find a method that’s uniquely you and get started!

garbage. What if we told you there are countless ways you can still enjoy wrapping and unwrapping presents, without all the waste? Here are a few creative gift wrap alternatives to consider this holiday season. Brown Paper Bags With the holiday season comes holiday shopping, and if you opt out of plastic grocery bags, you’re sure to have a surplus of brown paper bags in the pantry. Drop a present into the bag, tape it shut, and you’re good to go. Add some simple lace or a ribbon for an old-timey feel or get creative with stamps and hand- drawn artwork. This wrap job lets your imagination run wild. Old Maps and Calendars These days, pretty much every phone has a built-in GPS, so you probably won’t need the map from your 1999 road trip anytime soon. If you still have an old map, why not use that for wrapping? The unusual

There’s something magical about seeing a stack of presents wrapped in bright, multicolored paper. However, that enchanting scene quickly evaporates a few hours later when all those wads of wrapping paper and plastic bows are chucked unceremoniously into the


VanDyk Testimonials Here’s what some of our homebuyers have to say about their experience with us at VanDyk Mortgage: “Tim and his team provided us with outstanding service. We are very pleased we selected them for our financing. They guided us through the entire mortgage process, answered all our questions, and communicated very well. We closed on our home without a hitch thanks to Tim. He also worked seamlessly with our Realtor.” – Daniel and Christine Burnell

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Answer the question on Page 4 and win dinner for two at Zaxby’s!

Give us a call! 239-437-4278 or visit

Inside This Issue 8280 College Parkway Suite #101 Fort Myers, FL 33919

Christmas With the Harts PAGE 1 See the Holiday Delights in Fort Myers Santa Tracking Goes High-Tech PAGE 2 Stop Wasting Gift Wrap! Testimonials Train Your Brain! PAGE 3 Florida’s Finest Christmas Trees with Bobby Blanchard PAGE 4

THE BEST CHRISTMAS TREES in Southwest Florida Forty-five years ago, farmer Robert Heath traveled all the way from his home in frigid Wisconsin to southwest Florida to escape from chill, armed with a truckload of Christmas trees. Since then, Fort Myers locals have flocked to Heath’s Christmas Trees every winter to meet manager Bobby Blanchard and his crew and take their pick from the most beautiful trees in the state. Born and raised right here in Fort Myers, Blanchard joined Heath’s team 20 years ago and never looked back. Since then, Bobby and Heath’s Christmas Trees have become a community staple of the Christmas season. But what makes their trees so special? It all comes down to the painstaking care Bobby and his team take with each and every tree that comes through their lot. “We keep them sell on a particular day — the rest stay fresh in the shade,” Bobby explains. Besides that and the careful trims they do on every single tree, Bobby says it’s the friendly, local-business attitude on the lot that keeps customers coming back each year. “Our staff isn’t just out there to make a buck. We’re there to make the customer happy,” he says. To him, it’s all about “making somebody else’s holiday season a little bit more joyful.” To that end, Bobby and his team go to unparalleled lengths with their customer service, offering home delivery, handmade wreaths, and light installation, to name just a few of the ways they go above and beyond. Our own Tim Hart has been a long-time 15 years, and even played men’s softball together and served on the Board of Fort Myer’s Little League Organization. Bobby has a bit of sage advice for anyone buying a real Christmas tree for their home this season: “In order to keep the tree fresh, don’t put your tree in the water until you get it boiling hot on the stove — that opens up the ‘pores’ on the bottom of the trunk.” If you’re in the market for a gorgeous Christmas tree this holiday season, you can’t do better than Heath’s Christmas Trees, located at 13851 S. Tamiami TRL, Fort Myers, FL 33912 in The old Dwyers Pub/ Twisted Kilt building. Go say hi to Bobby, and tell him VanDyk Mortgage sent you!

friend of Bobby’s, and refers anyone looking for the perfect Christmas Tree to Heath’s. In fact, they have known each other for the past

in water, under a tent, and never unwrap more than what we’re projected to actually

TRIVIA QUESTION: How long has Tim known Bobby Blanchard? The first person to email the correct answer to thart@vandykmortgage will win two free dinners at Zaxby’s Fort Myers location.

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