Travis Black - December 2018





Before my daughter-in-law Amy celebrated Christmas with my family, the whole concept was entirely new to her. Her parents didn’t celebrate the holiday because they’re from China, so she never had a chance to experience what it was like. The first time she observed the holiday with us was jaw-dropping for her. She was like a little kid in a candy store. During this time of year, local craftspeople head up to Apple Hill and hold a large craft fair, allowing people to browse their goods. Many of themmake Christmas decorations that you can hang on the tree or put on your mantle. There’s one booth where a craftsman puts the date on his beautiful Christmas ornaments, and my family makes sure to visit his booth each year to get a new one. When I brought Amy to this fair for the first time, I bought her a special Christmas ornament that said “Amy’s First Christmas” on it, which she still has today. Amy was also enthusiastic about getting her very first Christmas tree. Every year, my family goes out to the Christmas tree farm and cuts down our very own tree. Amy was thrilled to pick out a tree for her and my son’s place. She ran around to look at each one before finding the perfect tree. Amy wanted to cut it down by herself, but she understandably needed a bit of help. So we all pitched in and cut the lovely tree down and hauled it back to their car. Once they arrived home, Amy was really excited to decorate her Christmas tree for the first time ever. That initial Christmas for her was memorable for all of us. Amy had such an exciting time, and the rest of us enjoyed seeing the traditions through a fresh set of eyes.

Years ago when my son was still pretty young, we went out and cut down a huge, monster Christmas tree for our home. Our living room had a ceiling that was around 30 feet high, and my son wanted to fill that space as much as possible. When we were out looking for a tree that year, he spotted the gigantic pine and declared that it was the one for us. We had quite a time chopping it down and then had to wrestle it onto the truck. Once we got it home, we could hardly fit it through the door, but once we got it through and upright, it looked amazing. “We had a few weeks to enjoy the tree, and then came the hard part — getting it back out of the house.” We decorated it as a family, and the pine was surprisingly pleasant given how large it was. We had a few weeks to enjoy the tree, and then came the hard part — getting it back out of the house. After Christmas, the needles dried up and the branches became stiff and hard. Try as we might, we couldn’t fit the thing back through the door. We ended up having to cut it up in the living room and take it out in pieces, making a mess of branches and dry needles in the process. It was a nightmare! But even with all the work and horrible mess, I couldn’t imagine Christmas with a store-bought tree. Besides engaging in all of the usual Christmas traditions, my son and I participated in something very similar to the Angel Tree

program every year for a long time. Our church gave out the names of families or people in need who were going through a hard time. My son, who was eight at the time, would play Secret Santa to these families. We’d go to church, find the family whose name was given out, and see what they might need. My son had so much fun going out and picking Christmas presents for these people, bringing them home, and wrapping them up. He always wanted to be involved with the process as much as possible. It was a great teaching moment. My son even came up with an idea to put all the presents into an enormous box and take it to their house on Christmas Eve. We would go over as a family in our SUV, and my son and I would carry the box and lay it on the porch. My son would knock, and then we’d head back to the truck and watch. He got so much joy out of watching these people open their Christmas gifts, and it would be fulfilling to see them the following week in church wearing their brand- new clothes. Whether this year is your first Christmas celebration or your one-hundredth, I encourage you to find a way to give to someone in need. A small act of kindness can truly put the holiday into perspective.

Merry Christmas,

-Travis Black

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My family moved to Northern California in 1992, in the first part of November. Our neighbors told us about this place called Apple Hill and about the fun of exploring the many great apple orchards, and sampling the apple pies and freshly baked donuts. We also learned that everyone would cut their own Christmas trees! In Southern California, Christmas trees were purchased in grocery store parking lots, so this was a new experience for us! If you purchased a tree after Thanksgiving, you would have a pile of brown needles on the floor before Christmas. That was the norm! Our new tradition was to take our truck up to Apple Hill and spend a whole day looking for the perfect tree! Of course, we would have to stop for our hot apple cider and donuts. The first year, our son, Ryan, was eight years old, and we left it up to him to find his tree. As soon as we parked, Ryan and his yellow Labrador retriever, Josh, would take off running into the trees. We followed, and we would hear him talking to his dog about the trees he would find. His mom would carry red ribbons with her so that she could mark the trees that he found. Every year was a different adventure with heated debates about the perfect tree. Several years we got snow. One year it snowed so hard we didn’t spend a lot of time picking trees, but it was a great time. We made enough time to have a snowball fight in the parking lot! Shoppers flock to retailers every Black Friday in hopes of securing the best deals on the year’s hottest products. There are many nasty aspects of Black Friday — the long lines, the overzealous shoppers, the limited stock of items — but phony pricing and fake sales shouldn’t be among them. But that’s exactly what happened to folks in Los Angeles during the 2016 holiday season, leading to the biggest Black Friday lawsuit in history. In December of 2016, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office sued J.C. Penney, Sears, Macy’s, and Kohl’s for a practice called “false reference pricing,” a nefarious tactic whereby retailers lie about the original price of an item to make a discount appear bigger than it actually is. For example, Sears sold a Kenmore washing machine at a “sale price” of $999.99, compared to a “regular price” of $1,179.99. The problem was the so-called sale price was actually the price that product was offered at every day. Therefore, it wasn’t actually on sale. Duping your customers is a bad business practice, but what makes it illegal? Well, California law requires that retailers post a retail price no higher than what the product was sold at within three months FAKE DISCOUNTS AND ANGRY SHOPPERS CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

prior to the ad. “Families today … are striving to get the very most they can get from an extremely hard-earned holiday shopping dollar,” said LA City Attorney Mike Feuer. “They deserve to make an informed decision.” After the suit was brought against them, the retailers all quickly moved to settle, promising to never engage in false reference pricing again. Most retailers offer discounts around the holidays to encourage shoppers to come into their stores or visit their websites. Promotions and sales are great tools in any business’s arsenal, provided they aren’t out to mislead customers. Big-box stores may try to manipulate innocent people, and it’s up to aggrieved customers to hold those corporations accountable. Nearly every year, you’ll read about a class-action lawsuit that develops in response to the shady tactics of businesses eager to secure those holiday shopping dollars. Are there great bargains to be had on Black Friday? Of course. But if something sounds too good to be true, it very well might be. Keep your eyes peeled and don’t let retailers trick you into a purchase you wouldn’t make otherwise.

When we found the perfect tree, Ryan then wanted to cut the tree down by himself. This process lasted about two minutes, until he was tired and would then let me help. Once the tree was cut, wrapped, and put into the truck, we started our drive home. I still have the picture of Ryan curled up on the backseat, sound asleep with his dog. After Ryan went away to college, the Christmas tree tradition sort of stopped. However, a couple of years ago, I got a very pleasant surprise. Ryan, now 34, and his wife came home and wanted to continue the tradition. His wife had never cut a tree before! We set off with my newest Labrador retriever, Ellie, and headed up to Apple Hill! Some things never change! Ryan and his wife went off into the trees with Ellie. You could hear them laughing and debating. We carried the red ribbons, and soon we had our perfect trees. Some things do change, though — now I let my son cut the trees! We stopped for our hot apple cider and headed home.


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UGLY SWEATER PARTIES A FUN TREND YOU CAN EASILY FOLLOW! It’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

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.

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-themed games that should be on the agenda include an ugly gift exchange, which is similar to the white

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!



INGREDIENTS • 1 small head cauliflower

chicken broth or vegetable broth • 1/2 cup heavy cream • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil • Salt and pepper, to taste

(about 2 pounds), cored and sliced

• 1 leek, chopped • 1 medium onion, chopped • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped • 4 cups low-sodium

INSTRUCTIONS 1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter into warm oil. Add onion and leek, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, about 10–12 minutes. 2. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add cauliflower, broth, and cream. Simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes. 3. Using a blender, purée in batches until smooth. 4. Top servings with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of pepper.

Inspired by Good Housekeeping

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1839 Iron Point Rd. #160 Folsom, CA 95630 Phone: 916.962.2896

INSIDE THIS ISSUE A First Christmas PAGE 1 The Biggest Black Friday Lawsuit in History PAGE 2 Christmas Traditions PAGE 2 Everything You’ll Need for an Ugly Sweater Christmas PAGE 3 30-Minute Cauliflower Soup PAGE 3 Local Events Just for You! PAGE 4


CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING WHERE: Folsom Historic District Plaza WHEN: Dec. 30, 6–9 p.m. ADMISSION: Free!

If you’re hoping to start up a new family tradition this year, here are some activities in the area for you to try!

FOLSOM CHRISTMAS CLASSIC WHERE: Vista del Lago High School WHEN: Dec. 15, 8–11:30 a.m. ADMISSION: See website for pricing. WEBSITE:

WEBSITE: This is an annual holiday tradition enjoyed by the entire community! Make sure to arrive early to enjoy singing, dancing, and a few treats. The lighting will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Christmas tree located in the middle of the ice rink in the plaza. Make sure to catch this festive celebration! BOTTOMLESS BEERMOSAS WHERE: Jackrabbit Brewing, West Sacramento WHEN: Every Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ADMISSION: Free! WEBSITE: brunch-all-day Head over to Jackrabbit Brewing for breakfast and bottomless beermosas, where you can feast on Cowtown Urban Eatery’s full brunch menu. Order a full English breakfast, chicken and waffles, chilaquiles, or traditional waffles with fresh berries and torched- mallow cream. Catch the event each Saturday this month or enjoy a brunch on the first Saturday of the new year!

Get up early to join the Folsom community for their annual run or walk! Come for this fifth-annual event and tackle the 5K or 10K down the paved Folsom trails. Kids 10 and younger can enjoy the Santa run, which is around 200 yards long. All funds will benefit Keaton’s Child Cancer Alliance, supporting children who have cancer and their families. Put on your reindeer antlers and slip on your Santa hat for a morning of early Christmas cheer!

PAJAMA PARTY CHRISTMAS EVE WHERE: Sacramento Zoo WHEN: Dec. 24, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ADMISSION: Free! WEBSITE:

Anyone with young children should be sure to catch this event. All families are welcome to the Sacramento Zoo for this free and exciting day. People of all ages are encouraged to dress in their finest and favorite PJs and spend time with the zoo’s many incredible animals.


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