We all know that the holidays are not supposed to be about the presents you give and get, but about the more important things in life like peace, love, joy, family and friends. But let’s be a little realistic here, it’s called the holiday shopping season for a reason. Santa delivers a lot of joy to good girls and boys all over the world and it’s usually wrapped up in a big box with a bow.
The National Retail Federation forecasts that this year’s holiday sales are going to be bigger than last year, up 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion for November and December. However, consumers say they plan to purchase two-percent less this year, $737.95 on average per person.
But those holiday shoppers looking for true love, may have to spend a little more than that. According to something called the Christmas Price Index, to buy all the gifts that my true love gave to me in the classic Christmas carol “Twelve Days of Christmas,” it will cost 7.7% more money this year than last year. From One Partridge in a Pear Tree to Ten Lords a-Leaping, that’s a total of $27,393.17.
This year’s biggest price increases are for Nine Ladies Dancing (twerking? probably not) and Ten Lords-a-Leaping. The least expensive item on the list, and the only one to drop in price this year, is the partridge with its very own pear tree for $204.99.
But if you want to buy it all in cyberspace it’s going to cost $12,300 more. Shipping can get pretty expensive on Swimming Swans, Pipers Piping and Drummers Drumming.
The Xmas Index has been around for 30 years, and although it’s a comical take on the cost of Christmas, it’s been pretty accurate when compared to the rate of inflation in the United States. PNC Wealth Management, which puts the index together, says that year-over-year increases have averaged 2.9 percent, the same number as the U.S. inflation index.
Who says you can’t put a price tag true love?
Peace Love Profits & Partridges,
Hope your Thanksgiving is filled with family and fun.
(Here’s me and my dad at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. My mom and brother are there too.)
Peace Love Profits,
I love the smells and the sounds of the season – the turkey roasting in the oven, the bands marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade - it’s all that and our family traditions that thankfully, I get to look forward to all year. What makes Thanksgiving one of the best times of the year for me? It was hard to narrow it down, but here are my top five reasons.
I’m proud to be an American and on Thanksgiving I am reminded of the incredible people, past and present, and the sacrifices they endured to help make this country the best place on earth. From the founders of Plymouth Colony who had the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621, to George Washington who in 1789 issued the first national Thanksgiving proclamation calling upon all Americans to be thankful for our country’s independence and for the U.S. Constitution. To Sarah Josepha Hale who campaigned to get Thanksgiving established as a national holiday, and to President Lincoln who in 1863 during the Civil War asked all Americans to “heal the wounds of our nation” and proclaimed Thanksgiving the last Thursday in November. And, to our troops who help keep our country safe all the days of the year.
Being surrounded by family and friends. Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time of the year. There’s no traffic jam, nor check-in line too long to keep family and friends apart. An estimated 25 million people will travel by air this year, that’s 1.5 percent more than last year, with 80 million more more travelling by roads and rails. It’s a day to give thanks for the love we share and to realize how fortunate we are to have one another in our lives.
The turkey and all the trimmings. I’m talking stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, and my personal favorite pumpkin pie. About 46 million turkeys are served at Thanksgiving, and 50 million pumpkin pies are eaten. And in case you’re counting, 3,000 to 5,000 calories are consumed.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. 87 years and counting. Even if you can’t get there to see the parade in person, turn the TV on, sit in your pajamas, and watch the floats go by. More than 50 million people will be doing the same thing. And, after Santa and his sleigh have made their way down the two and a half mile parade route, there’s another holiday tradition to tune into at my house, Thanksgiving Day football.
It’s the kick-off of the holiday season and who doesn’t love that. In fact this year, the holiday season starts the night before Thanksgiving with the first night of Hanukah. And with just four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, you can bet that eager holiday shoppers will finish their meal and head to the mall to get a jump on their holiday shopping.
Here’s one more reason why Americans may say pass the pumpkin pie a few more times this year. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for ten is $49.04, that’s down 0.9 percent from last year.
Peace Love Profits & Pumpkin Pie,
Today, Veterans Day, and everyday we need to honor and thank all armed service veterans who help keep our country free and safe.
Peace Love Profits,
Is SpongeBob SquarePants a hero for the Conservative Party?
In an episode scheduled to appear tonight (Nov. 11th), SpongeBob gets fired from his job at the Krusty Krab but doesn’t want to accept any government assistance. Instead, he wants to work. His sidekick Patrick, however, thinks unemployment may be the greatest gig ever.
It’s not the first time (and won’t be the last) that cartoon characters have had a starring role in politics. Liberals partied with Big Bird during the last Presidential election after Mitt Romney said funding to PBS would be cut, even organizing a Million Muppet March on the Mall in Washington.
Don’t miss tonight’s episode on Nickelodeon at 7pm ET, will SpongeBob get caught in the safety net or not?
Peace Love Profits,
I wish I could say that it stood for fabulous or fantastic but I didn’t. My first big fat “F” stood for what it always stands for Fail. How could this happen? I knew the material, I had studied hard, I even went to see the teacher a couple of times before the test just to make sure I knew what I was doing. The practice problems were a breeze. I was prepared.
I’m not going to say I wasn’t nervous – I’m always nervous before a test, especially an algebra test. Grades mean a lot to me, and they mean a lot to my parents also. To say I was a little nervous is probably putting it mildly. I was anxious – very anxious. My brain kept asking me a lot of “what-ifs?” What if I blank out and forget how to do anything? What if I get every problem wrong? What if my bad grade hurts my grade point average forever? What if there isn’t any extra credit? What if I bring home an “F”, what will my parents think?
My confidence was definitely compromised. Looking back it’s safe to say I was doomed from the start. Negative thoughts are never a good thing. I suffer from what is called test anxiety and I’m not alone. According to the American Test Anxieties Association about 20% of students have high-test anxiety which can reduce working memory, confuse reasoning, increase mistakes and lower test scores. Yep, I’ve got a bad case of it.
I had to find some help fast. When you’re in middle school, tests come fast and furious. And with the end of the quarter coming, I had to find a quick fix if I wanted to make the grade. The Internet was going to be my fastest, least expensive and best resource. After scouring through test anxiety web searches, I compiled a list of techniques to help me with my problem. Yes, I was anxious (there I go again!) to try them.
Firstly, I need to recognize that a little anxiety is a good thing. It gets your adrenaline going, which can help you power through a test, provided you know the material. Preparation is key.
Secondly, I need to get rid of all those negative thoughts. If I think I’m going to do something bad, chances are I will. Focus on the positive things: I’ve studied, I’m prepared, I’m a good student and I know I can do it. Visualize doing well on the test.
Then, I also need to accept that nobody is perfect. Everybody makes mistakes. When a mistake is made, use it as a “learning opportunity” and figure out how to not make the mistake again. One bad grade is not the end of the world nor is it even the beginning of the end. Not even close. Basically, keep it all in perspective.
When taking a test, experts suggest starting with the easiest question first. If you get stumped on a problem, skip it, tell yourself that you know how to do it, and then try it again a little later. Practice some relaxation techniques, close your eyes, take some deep breaths, give your mind a chance to reset. Trust me, it works.
I may not be wearing my big fat “F” like a scarlet letter anymore, but I am mentally carrying it around with me. It’s a reminder of all that I am capable of: the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve since taken another algebra test and am happy to say I got an “A.” Which in this case stands for absolutely amazingly awesome. I can do it.
Here’s to the power of positive thinking.
Peace Love Profits,
Go see Gravity. You won’t be disappointed. No space aliens or even a love story needed for this space adventure starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Just good heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat fun. You’ll have a new appreciation for earth’s beauty from space and the astronauts and scientists who put it all on the line to research the world around us.
But after seeing it I can tell you that I’m not heading into space anytime soon.
Which is probably a good thing because the American astronaut program may not be going anywhere fast or far anytime soon either. President Obama cancelled NASA’s Constellation program in 2010, grounding any plans to take a trip to the moon. And now, NASA, which celebrated its 55th birthday on October 1st, has problems hitting closer to home. Some 97 percent of NASA’s workers have been furloughed and its website shutdown, just like the government.
However, there is some good news for people who still want to shoot for the moon. All you need is a billion dollars and a big appetite for adventure.
A group of billionaires are all claiming their space among the stars, funding cargo vehicles, rockets and other private space exploration, hoping to get in on what could be the next big financial frontier.
If anybody is going to do it, an entrepreneur might just be the perfect person to get the job done. By nature, entrepreneurs are determined and ambitious, with an incredible desire to succeed. History books are filled with wealthy visionaries, as Roger Lanius of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space museum noted in a USA Today article: Howard Hughes with airlines, Henry Rockefeller with the oil industry, and auto pioneer Henry Ford.
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic Airlines, hopes to start commercial trips into space in 2014. His vision is “to democratize space, eventually making commercial space travel affordable and accessible to all” according to a recent statement. And just last week, NBC announced plans for a competition series with Richard Branson called “Space Race” with a grand prize being a trip into space on Virgin Galactica’s SpaceShip Two.
Hopefully, these new-age space explorers won’t lose their will or their wallets. Costs can get out of control and skeptics caution that the bigger the project, the bigger the cost miscalculation.
But these entrepreneurs aren’t only on a money mission; they’re on a mission for mankind. “This is smart money investing in one of the largest commercial opportunities ever: going into space to gain resources for the benefit of humanity,” says space “ranger” and X Price Foundation chief Peter Diamandis.
Entrepreneurs living their dream and paying their own way. What in the world, or galaxy, could be better than that?
Peace Love Profits,
Have you ever read the United States Constitution? It’s 4,543 words long including the signatures. Some of the language may be old fashioned and difficult to understand because it was written 225 years ago. But, after reading it there’s one thing that should be absolutely clear: we, as Americans, are the luckiest people in the world.
Reading the United States Constitution is not an everyday thing for me. It’s actually a onetime thing for me thus far. Last week, my eighth grade history assignment was to explain Article V of the U.S. Constitution, which states how the Constitution is amended. From there, my interest in the document became unstoppable.
The United States Constitution was written in 1787 in Philadelphia during a one hundred day period from May 14th to September 17th known as the Constitutional Convention. There, a group of 55 delegates from twelve of the thirteen states, known as framers, met in secret to come up with a plan for America’s government and its laws. The framers wanted to draft a perfect plan to give the government enough power to govern, but not too much power so that individual rights and liberties would be compromised.
It was signed on September 17th, which is now known as Constitution Day. The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, weren’t introduced until 1789. It is a document revered all around the world. More than 100 countries use it as a model for their own government. And, despite the fact that it was written more than 225 years ago, it’s only been amended 27 times.
Sure, the document is up for debate a lot and why wouldn’t it be? The Constitution was written two centuries ago when the population of the United States was only four million people who rode around in a horse and buggy. But that’s the brilliant thing about the United States Constitution; it can de discussed and debated for hours on end and even for years, but the words of our forefathers printed on the page still stand the test of time.
I recently read an article in The Atlantic titled The U.S. Constitution Needs You. The article suggests why it is important that we have a connection with the Constitution and offers five ways to help get that connection. The first way is to just read it.
Ben Franklin was the oldest person at 81 years of age to sign the Constitution and as he did he had tears running down his face. As he left the Pennsylvania State House after signing, the wife of Philadelphia’s mayor asked him what type of new government the United States would have. Ben Franklin replied, “A republic, madam. If you can keep it.”
Peace Love Profits,
I am the leader of a great and powerful nation – The Procrastination. I’m going to finally admit it. I could wait until tomorrow, because well, as a procrastinator, that’s my nature, but instead I’m going to take ownership of it today.
There are a couple of reasons for my confession. First being, summer is over and looking back on it, I really didn’t accomplish everything I said I would. I had high hopes, some big lofty goals and some pretty basic plans. There’re the songs on my guitar I didn’t learn to play, the healthy eating plan I didn’t start, the daily mile runs I didn’t take, and the ice hockey I didn’t learn to play. I didn’t watch every Disney classic movie, nor did I read a book a week. My ears are still not pierced, and my legs have never been shaved, just to name a few.
However, I’m happy to say there’s one goal that I did accomplish this summer and that was to have the time of my life.
I need to set something straight on behalf of the Great Procrastination, a nation that numbers about 20 percent of the population in the United States. While some say we are a lazy bunch of people, with low self-esteem who may be afraid to make a decision or even incapable of it, I’ve got a more positive spin on why we procrastinate.
While we may not be doing what we originally set out to do, we are doing something even better, maybe a bit more creative and maybe more fun. The Creativity Research Journal studied a group of intelligent people, winners of the Intel Science Talent Competition, and concluded that procrastinators can actually be quite clever. They’re not just sitting around not doing what they’re supposed to do; instead they are “procrastinating efficiently and taking care of other areas of their life.” The study also found that this particular group used procrastination as a tool; a “thought incubator” to develop a plan thoroughly before jumping into it, and a stress inducer “to ignite positive action.”
Here’s the other reason for today’s confession. My parents may have learned to embrace my procrastination, although they don’t always approve of it, my teachers are another story. A good procrastinator does not make a good student. Although we may be a clever and creative bunch, clever does not get your homework handed in on time.
So, this year, (no, not next year), I’ve decided to change my procrastinating ways. No more Sunday night homework, no more Monday morning studying. I’ve managed to find a four-step process to Stop Procrastinating and Get the Job Done thanks to some highly organized productive people at About.com.
1) Make a List. You need to list all the necessary steps to get the job finished.
2) Make a Schedule. Decide when you are going to finish each of the steps listed above.
3) Begin Each Step on Time. You’ve decided when you need to finish the job, so you better start it on time.
4) Plan Your Deadline Before the Deadline. If you really do this, you’ll finish your work before it’s due, and then you can go back and make it even better.
Good news for me; I get to put my Procrastination Plan in motion. I just got my first social studies project of the year, A Study on the Restructuring After the Civil War. Can’t wait to get started… tomorrow… right after I get my ears pierced.
Peace Love Profits,