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July 15 2008







Mastering Dreaded Holiday Conversations
by Darren Hardy
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Did you know that “Jingle Bells” wasn’t originally a Christmas carol, that “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was written by a Montgomery Ward advertising copywriter, or that you can find printed versions of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” dating back to 1780?

Many of the Christmas songs we grew up with have fascinating back stories, though they’re not always historically accurate. In celebration of the holiday, we offer an assortment of the Christmas-carol origin stories and legends we’ve had occasion to research. Enjoy!

Dan Evon

Dan Evon is a Chicago-based writer who has been sifting through the sludge of social media since 2009. Prior to joining the editorial staff at Snopes.com, he was the editor-in-chief of Social News Daily, a senior writer for The Inquisitr, and covered motorcycle racing for All About Bikes Magazine.


Regardless of precisely where and when “Jingle Bells.” was written, it is clear it was not intended as a Christmas song (and indeed, it contains no reference to Christmas or December, its only association with either of these being a mention of snow). While there are several origin stories about the song “Jingle Bells,” the most popular has it that Pierpont wrote the song for a Thanksgiving program at his father’s Sunday school; the song proved to be so popular the children were asked to the sing the song again at Christmas, and it has been tied to the latter holiday ever since.

“Jingle Bells” didn’t start out as a Christmas song, but now, more than 150 years after its publication, it has become staple of the winter holiday season. Historian Roger Lee Hall noted the song was first recorded by the Edison Male Quartette in 1898. “Jingle Bells” was later recorded by Benny Goodman in 1935 and Glenn Miller in 1941, but the song didn’t truly become a Christmas staple until after Bing Crosby waxed a jazzy version of it with the Andrews Sister in 1943:


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created by a man whose wife was dying of cancer.


To most of us, the character of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, immortalized in song and a popular holiday television special, has always been an essential part of our Christmas folklore, but Rudolph is in fact a mid-twentieth century invention whose creation can be traced to a specific time and person:

However, the glurgified account of that event reproduced above, while essentially correct in its broad strokes, erroneously inverts a key aspect of the process: The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was not developed by a man who was seeking to bring comfort to his daughter as her mother lay dying of cancer and who subsequently sold his creation to a department store chain. Instead, the Rudolph character and story was developed for commercial purposes by a Montgomery Ward copywriter at the specific request of his employer, and that copywriter then tested the story out on his own daughter during the development process to ensure it would appeal to children.

Rudolph came to life in 1939 when the Chicago-based Montgomery Ward company asked one of their copywriters, 34-year-old Robert L. May, to come up with a Christmas story they could give away in booklet form to shoppers as a promotional gimmick — the Montgomery Ward stores had been buying and distributing coloring books to customers at Christmastime every year, and May’s department head saw creating a giveaway booklet of their own as a way to save money. Robert May, who had a penchant for writing children’s stories and limericks, was tapped to create the booklet.

The post-war demand for licensing the Rudolph character was tremendous, but since May had created the story on a “work made for hire” basis as an employee of Montgomery Ward, that company held the copyright to Rudolph, and May received no royalties for his creation. Deeply in debt from the medical bills resulting from his wife’s terminal illness (she died about the time May created Rudolph), May persuaded Montgomery Ward’s corporate president, Sewell Avery, to turn the copyright over to him in January 1947, and with the rights to his creation in hand, May’s financial security was assured. (Unlike Santa Claus and other familiar Christmas figures of the time, the Rudolph character was a protected trademark that required licensing and the payment of royalties for commercial use.)

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was reprinted commercially beginning in 1947 and shown in theaters as a nine-minute cartoon the following year, but the Rudolph phenomenon really took off when May’s brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, developed the lyrics and melody for a Rudolph song. Marks’ musical version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (turned down by many in the music industry who didn’t want to meddle with the established Santa legend) was recorded by cowboy crooner Gene Autry in 1949, sold two million copies that year, and went on to become one of the best-selling songs of all time (second only to “White Christmas”). A stop-action television special about Rudolph produced by Rankin/Bass and narrated by Burl Ives was first aired in 1964 and remains a popular perennial holiday favorite in the U.S.













The Importance Of Seeing The Good In All


There is a perceptible energetic shift that takes place when we choose to see the good in all.

Our perception shapes the lives we lead because the universe adjusts itself almost instantly to our expectations. When we look for negativity, we are bound to come across it in abundance. Conversely, we create positive energy when we endeavor to see the goodness around us. As easy as it is to criticize the people and situations that frustrate or hurt us, we do ourselves a disservice in the process. It is important to see the good in all as there are blessings hiding in every aspect of our outer-world reality, and the potential for grace exists in all human beings. When our lives are flooded with challenges, grief, and pain, we may be tempted to believe that some individuals or incidents are simply bad. But if we look for the good in all, good reveals itself to us, easing our doubts and reminding us that the universe is a place of balance. 

There is a perceptible energetic shift that takes place when we choose to see the good in all. The unnecessary tension that came into being when we dwelled on negativity fades away and is replaced by sympathetic tolerance. We can forgive those that have wronged us because we recognize in them traits we admire, and we may even discover that we can bring out the good in one another. Though loss still grieves us, we recognize the beginning of a new phase of existence that abounds with fresh opportunities. Each new challenge becomes another chance to prove ourselves, and we learn to show great patience in the face of difficulty. There are few pleasures greater than gazing outward and seeing beauty, wisdom, and harmony. These are the attributes of the universe that help us to cope when we encounter their opposing forces. 

Since you create your reality, you make your world a better place each time you acknowledge the good in your circumstances and in the people you encounter. As you draw attention to the positive aspects of the world around you, your understanding of the affirmative nature of all existence will grow. There are few lessons you will learn in this life that will prove as instrumental to your happiness and satisfaction. In appreciating the all pervasive goodness that exists in the universe, you internalize it, making it a lasting part of your life.







Updated: October 24, 2018                         

Published: June 17, 2016

Adult Coloring Books: Silly Trend or Serious Benefits?

Johnna Kaplan


Coloring books for adults are inescapable these days. You’ve probably noticed them for sale everywhere, from the bookstore to the craft store to the drugstore. Their recent rise to ubiquity is underscored by this graph of Google searches for “adult coloring book,” which spiked dramatically in the last year.

According to Nielsen BookScan, 12 million adult coloring books were sold in the U.S. in 2015, and the coloring craze is a major contributor to the recent rise in print book sales. Some of these new, more mature coloring books–which range from intricate and artistic to humorous and edgy–have even popped up on Amazon’s Best Sellers List.

And the obsession seems to be universal. Already huge in Europe and the United States, coloring books are now becoming popular in Asia. Publishers Weekly reported that over 500,000 were sold in a six-month span last year in Taiwan.

If you need more proof that people really love coloring inside the lines, the Facebook group Coloring Books for Adults has over 43,000 members, another called Adult Coloring Worldwide has over 24,000, and there are dozens of smaller groups with narrower focuses like coloring competitions or coloring for people with chronic illnesses. And the trend shows no sign of stagnating – recently, Woman’s Day noted the release of a new product: coloring wine bottle labels.

But is the seemingly sudden proliferation of grown-up coloring books just a fad and a waste of time? Or, could returning to a favorite childhood hobby mean real health benefits? Many adults say there are good reasons to develop a coloring habit, and scientific evidence is beginning to suggest the pastime can help reduce stress, improve mental health, and even treat physical illness.

The Start of the Coloring Craze

Coloring books for grown-ups are not new. Subversive coloring books intended more as political statements than artistic exercises had a moment in the early 1960s. Dover Publications claims to have created the first real “coloring book targeted at an adult audience” in 1970, featuring antique cars.

The next year, they brought out similar books on flowers and the alphabet. And, of course, no one knows for sure how many parents, teachers, and babysitters have appropriated a page from the coloring book of a child in their care to use for their own amusement.

But the current coloring book explosion is widely recognized as something new and noteworthy. Its origins have been traced by the Atlantic to France beginning in 2012 and by the Washington Post to “the work of Scottish author Johanna Basford, whose 2013 title, Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book, began burning up bestseller lists.”

Whoever started it, it is generally agreed that, as CNN says, the “first commercially successful adult coloring books were published in 2012 and 2013.”

The Appeal of Coloring Books

Coloring books for the fully grown are often extolled as relaxation aids. Stephanie, an archivist in Boston whose favorite coloring book uses the original illustrations from Alice in Wonderland, also likes books with abstract patterns that put her “in a Zen mode.” “Coloring gives my mind something to focus on when everything is chaotic,” she says. “It kind of zones me out.”

It’s also just good, simple fun. Elain, from British Columbia, Canada, loved to color as a child and grew up to be an art therapist and artist working in pen and ink. “When I add color,” she says of her own art, “I jokingly say I am ‘colouring’ it in.” She was recently given a Doctor Who coloring book, and says, “I loved it. I find it brainless, relaxing and fun and I can enjoy someone else’s graphics for a change.” She has already purchased another coloring book, this one with a travel theme.

And although some see coloring books as a solitary, introspective activity, others are using their coloring to connect on social media. The coloring book boom coincided with the massive growth of Instagram, and it’s no surprise that fans of the visually-driven social media platform are now sharing their coloring results as well as their photography.

The Instagram account of Adult Coloring Book (@adultcoloringapp), one of many apps that let people personalize pre-made designs without pencils or paper, has over 33,000 followers. Hundreds of thousands of people have submitted their own creations to be featured and have shared their coloring, both digital and old-school, through hashtags like #AdultColoring and #ColorTherapy.

The coloring book resurgence is part of a larger trend of adults returning to the experiences they first enjoyed as children. This pattern extends beyond books to adult summer camps and even adult preschool classes, complete with naps and crafts.

Mental and Physical Health Benefits

The health benefits of coloring books have not been studied extensively (yet), but the effect of coloring on the brain has been likened to that of other, more established therapies. Studies have shown that art therapy offers measurable benefits for cancer patients as well as those struggling with depression, PTSD, and other diagnosed mental health conditions.

Some therapists argue that coloring books, with their precise guidelines, are not a serious art therapy equivalent; still, they say, using the books can help an anxious or distracted person relax and focus. Other experts believe that coloring is similar to meditation and other mindfulness practices, and that coloring, like yoga, can help practitioners feel mentally and physically calm.

Coloring books have also been touted as a way to improve fine motor skills, stimulate different parts of the brain, and deal with both mental and physical pain.

So, if you’ve been eyeing the growing stacks of coloring books at Barnes & Noble or Target but feeling silly about picking one up, don’t worry. They’re worth trying out if you want to unwind or just add a little color to your day. Then again, if the last thing you want is to be reminded of first grade, there’s no reason you have to jump on the coloring bandwagon merely because it’s so popular at the moment.

Although the benefits of coloring books may be real, they can also be reaped by partaking in other leisure activities or forms of therapy. As your parents may have told you many decades ago, there’s nothing wrong with preferring to color outside the lines.

Ready to color? Get started by printing out a few pages from our coloring book Life’s Moments.









  Kris Carr

This season can feel like a minefield when you’re trying to keep up with healthy habits. Spiked ‘nog, indulgent holiday appetizers and gingerbread cookies are around every corner. Abnormal schedules take us away from our routines and out of the kitchen. And when the temps hit single digits, those hearty (perhaps not-so-healthy) comfort foods often seem like the only thing that’ll do.

Sometimes it seems like “healthy” and “holidays” barely belong on the same planet, never mind in the same sentence!

This also happens to be a time when many of us start thinking about our goals for the year ahead. Maybe we want to finally run that 5k, cook at home more often or make plants a bigger part of our diet. And when that collides with constant temptation, it can feel like we’re falling on and off the wellness wagon on a daily basis.

But contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. Cleaning up your diet so you can feel great doesn’t have to come at the expense of doing (and eating!) the things you love.

Healthy Holiday Appetizers: 3 Tips for Building a Perfect Platter!

Before we get into the recipes, I’ve got some tips to help you create a balanced, nourishing appetizer board that satisfies your taste buds and doesn’t wreak havoc on your body.

1. Healthy appetizer boards are full of color.

Forget monochrome, sweetheart—you deserve a rainbow! Include oranges, clementines, carrots, roasted red peppers, green olives, fresh herbs, edamame, non-dairy cheeses, berries, kalamata olives, and various nuts and seeds on your board. The more colorful your holiday appetizers are, the better!

“Vegan Appetizer Board

2. Mix indulgent with light and healthy.

Healthy holiday appetizers shouldn’t make you feel like you need a nap. So, instead of traditional salty, inflammatory meats and cheeses, opt for animal-free nut cheeses, hummus and other dippable delicacies. Add a mix of steamed, raw and roasted veggies like carrots, green beans, broccoli, peppers and Brussels sprouts. Bring in some sweetness with fresh and dried fruits (just watch out for added sweeteners and preservatives) such as berries, grapes, persimmon, oranges and apples. Top it all off with some whole grain crackers (or try these—made with the leftover pulp from homemade almond milk) for a savory crunch!

3. Include plants in unexpected ways.

Just like smoothies and sauces, dips are a great way to pack a whole lotta veggies into a small, delicious package. Try pairing today’s plant-powered vegan cheese ball and olive tapenade with this Spinach Artichoke Dip (made with 16 oz of spinach!) and this Mesquite Red Bell Pepper Dip (a yummy way to get your vitamin C!). Keeping the snack board and dips light and full of flavor will help you stay energized all season long.





! The Water Coolers 13th Annual Holiday Carol
































One-Pot Chicken Adobo Is the Most Delicious Way to Celebrate My Heritage


Living a half a world away, adobo—the unofficial national dish of the Philippines—can bring me home in an instant.

by Amelia Rampe

While I grew up mostly in the United States, I lived in the Philippines as a small child, and I have so many memories of my Lola (great grandmother) taking me on local adventures. We’d hop on the jeepney to visit her friends and family, or she’d take me to the market to buy things for dinner. Even today, when I’m walking through New York City’s Chinatown I’ll catch a whiff of something that brings me right back to holding my Lola’s hand. I hold on tight to those memories: the sights, sounds, and smells.



Sweet, salty, tangy, and ready in an hour...sign us up! PHOTO BY TY MECHAM

Now that I’m a cook and food stylist living in Brooklyn, I’m not only far away from the Philippines, but also far from my Filipino family in California. Despite this fact, or maybe because of it, I’m always looking for ways to preserve my culture for my own children. I take my kids to Filipino restaurants; I follow historical Filipino Instagram and Facebook pages; my youngest daughter practices kuntaw (Filipino martial arts). Every Christmas Eve, I cook them an elaborate Filipino meal of roasted crispy pork belly and pancit, and on Christmas morning, I make sisiglog for breakfast out of the pork belly leftovers.

But I’m just as likely to preserve my culture on a weeknight as I am on a special occasion. My absolute favorite way to do so is by making adobo. The beloved recipe has a long history: Before the Spanish colonized the Philippines, indigenous Filipinos used to preserve their meat in vinegar and salt. After the Spanish arrived, they chose the name “adobo”—which means sauce or marinade—to describe the dish.

There are countless variations on adobo. Technically you can use any type of meat or vegetables, but for weeknights, I like to use chicken thighs. It’s a meal that requires minimal shopping, and cooks in about an hour, which for me means it can be done any night of the week. (Also, leftover adobo is the best! I swear it gets even better the next day.) And as I discovered a few years ago when I was prepping for a party with a crowded stove top, there's more than one way to cook it, too. While classic recipes will tell you to simmer adobo on the stove top, you can actually braise it in the oven for just-as-tender results.

Since then, the oven-braising method has become my go-to. It keeps my apartment warmer in the colder months, plus when I prepare it this way, my stove top stays so much cleaner...probably thanks to the fact that I’m fussing with the dish less.

































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