Blog December 2016

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NEW YEARS EVE THOUGHTS

Posted On: December 30, 2016


When did New Year's resolutions start?

Religious origins: The Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.

How long does the average person keep their New Year's resolution?

Surprisingly, 75% of resolutions will be continued through the entire first week of January, but only 46% make it past six months. University of Scranton also stated that 39% of people in their twenties will achieve their resolution each year while only 14% of people over 50 years of age will achieve theirs.

When did New Year's become a holiday?

In 1903, the Bank Holiday (Ireland) Act added 17 March, Saint Patrick's Day, as a bank holiday for Ireland only. New Year's Day did not become a bank holiday in England until 1 January 1974. Around the start of the 1900s, New Year's Eve celebrations in America started to appear. The first Ball drop in Times Square was held in 1907. Around the same time, special events to welcome the New Year started to be organized on January 1.

 

News Years Resolution Statistics

Data

Percent of Americans who usually make New Year's Resolutions

45 %

Percent of Americans who infrequently make New Year's Resolutions

17 %

Percent of Americans who absolutely never make New Year's Resolutions

38 %

Percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolution

8 %

Percent who have infrequent success

49 %

Percent who never succeed and fail on their resolution each year

24 %

People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don't explicitly make resolutions

 

 

  • Why do we Toast?


Toasts typically concern gratefulness for the past year’s blessings, hope and luck or the future, and thanking guests for their New Year’s company. In coastal regions, running into a body of water or splashing water on one another, symbolizing the cleansing, “rebirth” theme associated with the holiday.

New Year’s Song

The song, “Auld Lang Syne,” is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. At least partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700’s, it was first published in 1796 after Burns’ death. Early variations of the song were sung prior to 1700 and inspired Burns to produce the modern rendition. An old Scottish tune, “Auld Lang Syne” literally means “old long ago,” or simply, “the good old days.” The lyrics can be found here.

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DECEMBER 26

Posted On: December 26, 2016


THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS

The day after, it’s so befuddling. The day speaks to us all the same, but yet differently.

It’s confusing: Do I kick back and relax

It teases: Next year will be better. 

It lies: If you had only gotten what you wanted.

The crumpled paper and candy wrappers littered the floor like confetti. The living room looked like a circus. If you’re honest, it kind of was.

Still by mid-day, the house was clean and empty. Sterile, even. The tree, though still up, lacks its luster. Family has since gone home, and we are left with our trinkets, maybe some leftovers, and heaven forbid, the classic fruitcake!

The loneliness starts to creep in as soon as finish our coffee. We begin to lament.

The mixed emotions of this day can collide and cloud our vision. Was it the best day of the year, or the worst? Did we find the spirit of Christmas? Did we recapture child-like wonder? Or did we lose another piece of our innocence to the cynicism of adulthood?

We think back to the day that seems so far away, so unapproachable. We sang, we danced, but still wished for more. We feasted and napped, but found no rest.

We waited and waited. And still, we waited more. For Christmas morning — when a child comes into the world and we become children again. But when it came in all its glory, it still felt like we were waiting.

Maybe we were.

How do you handle it?

Play those games! Go to the movies! Try on those gifts!

Get up and live! 

Appreciate what you received, and thank whomever you pray too for another day!

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THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Posted On: December 23, 2016


                               nutcracker 'Twas the Night Before Christmas nutcracker

                                                                                                      by Clement Clarke Moore

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

horse

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap.

wreath

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.

bells

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the lustre of midday to objects below,
when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

wreath

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came,
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

"Now Dasher! Now Dancer!
Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all!"

horse

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky
so up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

bells

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

roof

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

wreath

His eyes--how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

bells

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

horse

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

sleigh

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

bells


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THE HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE

Posted On: December 19, 2016

The evergreen fir tree has traditionally been used to celebrate winter festivals (pagan and Christian) for thousands of years. Pagans used branches of it to decorate their homes during the winter solstice, as it made them think of the spring to come. The Romans used Fir Trees to decorate their temples at the festival of Saturnalia. Christians use it as a sign of everlasting life with God.

Nobody is really sure when Fir trees were first used as Christmas trees. It probably began about 1000 years ago in Northern Europe. Many early Christmas Trees seem to have been hung upside down from the ceiling using chains (hung from chandeliers/lighting hooks).

Other early Christmas Trees, across many parts of northern Europe, were cherry or hawthorn plants (or a branch of the plant) that were put into pots and brought inside so they would hopefully flower at Christmas time. If you couldn't afford a real plant, people made pyramids of woods and they were decorated to look like a tree with paper, apples and candles. Sometimes they were carried around from house to house, rather than being displayed in a home.

It's possible that the wooden pyramid trees were meant to be like Paradise Trees. These were used in medieval German Mystery or Miracle Plays that were acted out in front of Churches on Christmas Eve. In early church calendars of saints, 24th December was Adam and Eve's day. The Paradise Tree represented the Garden of Eden. It was often paraded around the town before the play started, as a way of advertising the play. The plays told Bible stories to people who could not read.

The first documented use of a tree at Christmas and New Year celebrations is argued between the cities of Tallinn in Estonia and Riga in Latvia! Both claim that they had the first trees; Tallinn in 1441 and Riga in 1510. Both trees were put up by the 'Brotherhood of Blackheads' which was an association of local unmarried merchants, ship owners, and foreigners in Livonia (what is now Estonia and Latvia).

Little is known about either tree apart from that they were put in the town square, were danced around by the Brotherhood of Blackheads and were then set on fire. This is like the custom of the Yule Log. The word used for the 'tree' could also mean a mast or pole, tree might have been like a 'Paradise Tree' or a tree-shaped wooden candelabra rather than a 'real' tree.

In the town square of Riga, the capital of Latvia, there is a plaque which is engraved with "The First New Year's Tree in Riga in 1510", in eight languages.

A picture from Germany in 1521 which shows a tree being paraded through the streets with a man riding a horse behind it. The man is dressed a bishop, possibly representing St. Nicholas.

In 1584, the historian Balthasar Russow wrote about a tradition, in Riga, of a decorated fir tree in the market square where the young men “went with a flock of maidens and women, first sang and danced there and then set the tree aflame”. There's a record of a small tree in Breman, Germany from 1570. It is described as a tree decorated with "apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers". It was displayed in a 'guild-house' (the meeting place for a society of business men in the city).

The first person to bring a Christmas Tree into a house, in the way we know it today, may have been the 16th century German preacher Martin Luther. A story is told that, one night before Christmas, he was walking through the forest and looked up to see the stars shining through the tree branches. It was so beautiful, that he went home and told his children that it reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas. Some people say this is the same tree as the 'Riga' tree, but it isn't! The Riga tree originally took place a few decades earlier. Northern Germany and Latvia are neighbors.

Another story says that St. Boniface of Crediton (a village in Devon, UK) left England and traveled to Germany to preach to the pagan German tribes and convert them to Christianity. He is said to have come across a group of pagans about to sacrifice a young boy while worshiping an oak tree. In anger, and to stop the sacrifice, St. Boniface is said to have cut down the oak tree and, to his amazement, a young fir tree sprang up from the roots of the oak tree. St. Boniface took this as a sign of the Christian faith and his followers decorated the tree with candles so that St. Boniface could preach to the pagans at night.

There is another legend, from Germany, about how the Christmas Tree came into being, it goes:

Once on a cold Christmas Eve night, a forester and his family were in their cottage gathered round the fire to keep warm. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. When the forester opened the door, he found a poor little boy standing on the door step, lost and alone. The forester welcomed him into his house and the family fed and washed him and put him to bed in the youngest sons own bed (he had to share with his brother that night!). The next morning, Christmas Morning, the family were woken up by a choir of angels, and the poor little boy had turned into Jesus, the Christ Child. The Christ Child went into the front garden of the cottage and broke a branch off a Fir tree and gave it to the family as a present to say thank you for looking after him. So ever since them, people have remembered that night by bringing a Christmas Tree into their homes!

In Germany, the first Christmas Trees were decorated with edible things, such as gingerbread and gold covered apples. Then glass makers made special small ornaments similar to some of the decorations used today. In 1605 an unknown German wrote: "At Christmas they set up fir trees in the parlours of Strasbourg and hang thereon roses cut out of many-colored paper, apples, wafers, gold foil, sweets, etc."

At first, a figure of the Baby Jesus was put on the top of the tree. Over time it changed to an angel/fairy that told the shepherds about Jesus, or a star like the Wise Men saw.

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CHRISTMAS WREATHS

Posted On: December 16, 2016

Why do we hang wreaths?

Hanging a circular wreath of evergreens during the winter season seems to go back a very long way. It might have started as far back as in Roman times when wreaths were hung on their doors as a sign of victory and of their status. Rich Roman women also wore them as headdresses at special occasions like weddings and to show they were posh. Roman Emperors also wore Laurel Wreaths. They were also given to the winners of events in the original Olympic Games in Greece.

The word 'wreath' comes from the Old English word 'writhen' which means to writhe or twist. Christmas Wreaths as we know them today, might have started life as Kissing Boughs or come from the German and Easter European custom of Advent Wreaths.

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HEATERS AND YOUR BOAT

Posted On: December 12, 2016

Heaters and Winterizing

In parts of the country that don't usually get too cold, plugging in a heater in the engine area seems a lot easier than lugging gallons of antifreeze to the boat and filling the engine(s) with it. In fact, using a heater can destroy your engine. When these places do get cold, it's often accompanied by an ice storm that takes out the power. No power to the heater equals unprotected engine, which equals permanent damage and a new engine.

A destroyed engine may actually be much better than what else can happen when you use a heater for winterizing. An overloaded electrical system, a damaged extension cord, or a faulty heater can all cause your boat to catch fire and burn. Your boat neighbors are not likely to be happy to learn that your "shortcut" destroyed their boat, too. Take the time to winterize your boat properly this winter.

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MARINA LIABILITY

Posted On: December 09, 2016

Boat Marina Liability

If you assume that a marina will pay for damages, you may be in for a shock. It pays to read what you are signing.

 

Consider these scenarios ...

  1. The mechanic who works at your marina test drives your boat following engine repairs. Something goes wrong, he loses control, and the boat causes — and sustains — considerable damage when it bounces off another vessel and hits a dock.
  2. Party-goers on another boat wreak havoc at your marina, vandalizing several vessels, including yours. The marina's security guard failed to stop the mayhem.
  3. The dockhand your marina hired for the summer fills your boat's gas tank with water — and vice versa.

More and more, marina contracts include phrases such as, "The boat owner fully agrees and releases the marina from any liability for loss or damage to the boat, under any circumstance, including any negligent acts or omissions by the marina or its personnel." Besides shielding marinas and their insurers from having to dig deep to pay settlements for losses and damages, marinas can save considerable dollars by having customers sign "hold-harmless" clauses in rental agreements. These policies often have large deductibles and the premiums are going up every year.

Consumers who agree to hold-harmless clauses can find themselves between a rock and a hard place: a marina absolved of responsibility on one hand and their own insurance company that refuses to pay out claims on the other, because these clauses are often in conflict with the boat owner's insurance policy.

Always ask and consult with a professional.

With less protection from the marinas, can boat owners expect slip fees to go down? No. Marina customers find themselves in basically the same position as airline customers: The peanut packets are smaller and there's a lot less leg room, but ticket prices and baggage-handling costs are higher.

 

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NOT ALL SALVAGE COVERAGE IS THE SAME

Posted On: December 05, 2016

How Much Salvage Coverage Do I Have?


Salvage coverage is an important component of your boat insurance policy, but not all salvage coverages are equal. Some policies will pay for the costs associated with salvaging your boat out of the agreed hull or actual cash value portion of your policy. This can effectively leave little or no money left over to pay you (or your bank) for the loss of your vessel. A more thorough policy will pay for salvage out of a separate coverage up to an amount equal to the agreed hull or actual cash value. A policy written this way will pay to salvage your boat, and pay to replace it.

Choose wisely.

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