365 Canal Street, Suite 1680, New Orleans, LA 70130
THAT SPECIAL CHRISTMAS FEELING I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE MY BOYS’ FACES CHRISTMAS MORNING
‘Tis the season of giving, which makes it both a fun and challenging time to be a parent. Aside from trying to give to the less fortunate, you also have kids who spend sleepless nights wondering what surprises Christmas morning has in store. You don’t want to disappoint them! My boys, Jude, 6, and Luke, 4, are both old enough to get excited about Santa’s visit. It’s the best time of the year to them — and the longest, as they wait. They enjoy hot cocoa evenings, “Charlie Brown” on T.V., carolers at the door, and every sighting of Santa Claus himself at the mall. Of course, it all culminates in one exciting morning. “We don’t love Christmas for the gifts, food, or parties. We love it because of how it feels, and I’m not just talking about the pleasant Louisiana winters.” Both boys are into typical stuff for kids their age, so they aren’t difficult to shop for. Jude is starting to love playing sports. A new mitt or soccer ball would be a thrill for him. He also likes Pokémon cards and anything related to superheroes, as long as it’s the Lego version. Sometimes I wonder if he even realizes Batman and Superman exist outside the Lego world! Luke is also pretty easy to shop for. Lately, he’s been into something called “Paw Patrol.” If you have young boys, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. We’re looking at their trucks and plush toys for Christmas gifts. I’m sure any of those will light up Luke’s face on Christmas morning. There’s nothing like bringing joy to others during the Christmas season. I hope my boys learn that as they get older. There’s a change that happens sometime during adulthood, when Christmas becomes much more about what you give than what you receive. Luckily, they already have a great example for that. My father-in-law owns Melba’s, a nice little restaurant here in town. For many years, he’s hosted a toy drive for kids in less-affluent neighborhoods. Kids can come by and choose from about $5,000 worth of toys, some donated and some paid for out of my father-in-law’s pocket. He also delivers them in a neighborhood in the ninth and seventh wards. Most
years, he invites my boys to help.
It’s a great lesson for them. They don’t just get taught the importance
of giving; they get to experience it for themselves.
Early in the season, my wife hosts a Christmas party for family and close friends. She’s an amazing hostess and starts planning it in October. On Christmas Eve, we usually go to church with her parents before having a nice holiday meal.
Before I had kids and a business, Christmas was different. Now, it’s all about giving and spending time with family. I don’t always get to see my family, so Christmas is the time to rekindle those special relationships and come together in the spirit of love. When I say “spirit of love,” I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. It’s that special Christmas spirit — the spirit that makes people around town kinder and more forgiving. It’s the spirit that warms hearts and minds and causes people to be more generous. We don’t love Christmas for the gifts, food, or parties. We love it because of how it feels, and I’m not just talking about the pleasant Louisiana winters. As we reflect on the year that was and the year that’s coming, I hope we can end strong by giving as much as we can. There is always someone less fortunate who could use our help.
From all of us at Smiley Law Firm, merry Christmas!
504-894-9653 • 1
A Boutique New Orleans Law Firm Resolving Your Legal Matters
Santa Tracking Goes HIGH-TECH
How many books have you seen with the word “happiness” in the title? A lot, right? It’s such a popular topic because the pursuit, journey, and, ultimately, achievement of happiness is supposed to be the key to a fulfilling life. Happiness is the ultimate human condition; reaching it is our purpose and will bring us contentment. But before you pick up that guide to happiness, there’s some new data you need to pay attention to. Turns out, we’ve been focusing on the wrong goal. More and more research is supporting the benefit of pursuing a meaningful life over a happy one. Viktor Frankl could be called a leading expert on the topic. Frankl lived through the Holocaust in a concentration camp and saw firsthand how humans deal with unhappy circumstances. As a respected psychiatrist, his observations became the basis for his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Frankl found that the people who stood the best chance of surviving the horrific experience were those who saw some sort of meaning in their lives, even under the bleakest circumstances. For Frankl, this meant providing therapy to others in the camp. As Frankl puts it, once a person finds meaning, they know the “why” of their existence, and they will be able to bear almost any “how.” 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 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 (santatracker.google.com), 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.” When the eve of the big day finally comes, Google promises a showcase of Santa’s “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, noradsanta. org 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!
Give Up the Search for Happiness
… And Look for Meaning Instead
In the years since “Man’s Search for Meaning” was written, it seems we’ve forgotten a lot of its advice. The Centers for Disease Control found that 4 out of every 10 Americans do not have a satisfying life purpose, and yet, 60 percent of Americans say they are happy. What gives? It comes down to the pursuit of happiness versus pursuing meaning in life. It’s the difference between “I’m going to buy this dress because it will make me happy” and “I’m going to volunteer at a shelter because it will be meaningful.” Happiness involves satisfying an immediate need, whereas finding meaning focuses on making choices that give us a sense of purpose. Even more telling, the Journal of Positive Psychology found that meaningful acts usually involve giving, but reaching happiness often means taking. Because of this, leading a meaningful life, while often more challenging, is also more satisfying. Is it possible that the pursuit of a meaningful life will lead us to happiness? Absolutely. Just don’t expect it to be an everlasting condition. Think of happiness the way psychologist Frank T. McAndrew does: “Recognizing that happiness exists — and that it’s a delightful visitor that never overstays its welcome — may help us appreciate it more when it arrives.”
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A TOAST TO YOU Thank You for Referring Us
At the Smiley Law Firm, we treat our clients like family because many of you are family or have been referred by family. Almost every client we have can be traced back to our family tree. As a result, your case is not just business, it is personal. When you help us make a new connection, we are always sure to reach out with a phone call to thank you. That said, the holiday season is a time for reflection and giving thanks. It’s a time for family. This December, we raise a toast to you, our family, for helping us grow relationships founded on bonds of trust. We are humbled that our firm should deserve your confidence. We understand how difficult life can be when a loved one needs legal help. It’s hard to know what to do after a friend or family member is injured. That so many of you turn to us in this trying time speaks volumes. We practice law to help people, and your referrals let us know we are staying true to that mission. That’s why every referral you send our way makes a difference. We get to help even more people and grow our family tree. Thank you for your referrals and thank you for placing your
trust in us, not only to help you, but to help the people you care about. As the new year approaches, we at the Smiley Law Firm continue to earn the confidence you have placed in us. Here is to you, and the continued growth of our family. Cheers.
HAVE A LAUGH!
Easy Holiday Party CHEESE FONDUE
• ¾ cup dry white wine • 1 tablespoon cornstarch • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced Swiss cheese
• 1 clove garlic • Salt to taste • Foods to dip (apple slices, bread cubes, roasted vegetables, etc.)
1. In a large bowl, whisk together wine and cornstarch. 2. Chop cheese slices into small, uniform pieces. 3. Rub garlic clove all over the sides and bottom of a heavy-bottomed pot, then discard. 4. Heat wine mixture over medium-low heat in the pot until thick and bubbling. Add some cheese and slowly whisk. When nearly smooth, add more cheese and whisk gently. Repeat until all cheese is melted. If mixture seems too thick, add 1 tablespoon wine. 5. Season with salt and serve immediately. Keep pot on low heat to keep the fondue dippable.
504-894-9653 • 3
A Boutique New Orleans Law Firm Resolving Your Legal Matters
365 Canal Street, Suite 1680 New Orleans, LA 70130 Phone: 504-894-9653 Fax: 866-761-8934 www.SmileyFirm.com OPEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE
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There’s Something in the Air
Santa Tracking Goes High-Tech Give Up the Search for Happiness
Thank You for Referring Us Easy Holiday Party Cheese Fondue
The Origin of Santa Claus
The Origin of Santa Claus Santa Claus wasn’t always a husky, omniscient gift-giver who circumnavigates the world once a year, propelled by flying caribou and backed by an army of friendly elves. Though the historical St. Nicholas had many of the same generous tendencies as our contemporary “King in the North,” he lacked a high-tech sleigh that could exceed the speed of light. To be exact, St. Nicholas was a renowned Bishop of Myra — an old Roman town near modern-day Demre, Turkey — way back around A.D. 300. Even before he became the bishop, St. Nicholas was known for his generosity. The most famous tale of his charity involved a poor man who could not afford a proper dowry to marry off his three daughters. In those days, this generally meant the daughters would remain
century, the respect that many Catholic saints received diminished, and his popularity dwindled across Europe.
One area where he remained popular was the Netherlands. There, he lived on as “Sinterklaas,” a mythical figure who went house to house on the eve of St. Nicholas’s nameday, December 5, leaving treats and gifts for children. Sinterklaas traditionally wore red bishop’s clothes and employed elves, and he traveled with horses that could walk across rooftops. When the Dutch emigrated in droves to America during the 17th and 18th centuries, they brought this kindly icon to the new colonies. Over time, notably through Clement Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” and a famous 1930s depiction by Coca-Cola ad illustrator Haddon Sundblom, Santa evolved into the figure we see today.
unmarried, making it likely that they’d fall into prostitution. Wanting to help, but also wanting to spare the family embarrassment, St. Nicholas traveled to the house at night and threw three purses packed with gold coins through the window. After his death, St. Nicholas became a beloved patron saint, but during the Protestant Reformation of the 16th
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