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EVERYTHING CHRISTMAS
presented by AzPuppies.com

History - Cards - Gifts - Crafts - Recipes - Ornaments - Antiques - Party Ideas

The History of Christmas
Christmas Recipes
Craft, Decorating, Party Ideas
Romantic Gift Ideas
Christmas Music, Movies, Books
Fast Gift Ideas



CHRISTMAS SURVIVAL TIPS
Creative Holiday Roast Ideas
Take the Christmas Budget Challenge
How To Decorate A Christmas Tree
Play Station III: Don't Have It? Don't Worry!
Make a Deal with Santa
Holiday Stress Management: Four Tips
Tales for Kids: Rudolph & Frosty
Get the Best from Your Credit Cards
Presents for Pooches
'Tis The Season To Stay Safe
Conquering The Holiday Blues
Don't let the Grinch Steal Your Christmas
5 Simple Secrets to Low Stress Holidays
A Survival Guide For The Holiday Season



TOP 10 AMERICAN CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

Every family has different traditions during the holiday season. For some families, one holiday tradition may include an uncle getting dressed up as Santa Claus. In another family, Christmas Eve dinner may top the tradition list. Some traditions are passed on from generation to generation, while others are created as families grow and change. While there is no way to create a comprehensive list of traditions, the following list highlights ten traditions that are representative of American families celebrating Christmas.

Number 10: Caroling. This tradition may not be as popular today as it once was. Perhaps it’s because too many people live in the suburbs, where houses are far away and neighborhoods are not as close knit as they used to be. But singing among family members and classmates still tops the hearts of many folks. Many of us can remember caroling around the nursing home with our friends or bundling up to hit the streets on a cold winter’s evening.

Number 9: Greeting Cards. What American holiday would be complete without greetings cards? The first Christmas card appeared in London in 1843 and became popular in America around 1875. Today many families send Christmas cards to their friends and family across the United States and even around the world. Some busy families include personalized letters reviewing the past year for their loved ones, while other families prefer to send cards featuring a recent family photo.

Number 8: Shopping. Christmas shopping season officially begins the day after Thanksgiving and continues until Christmas day. To some folks, it’s the most enjoyable part of the season. To others, shopping is one big necessary headache. Internet shopping has recently changed the face of holiday shopping forever, and men across world have been cheering! But no matter how popular internet shopping has become, nothing can compare to an old fashioned holiday shopping trip to see the lights, hear the bells, and smell the holiday excitement.

Number 7: Movies. For many families, the month of December becomes one long trip through Christmas movie nostalgia. Not only do the TV channels rebroadcast all of the old favorite Christmas movies, but the true movie-fan family also has DVDs and tapes of all their own favorites. Whether you fancy Rudolph or George Bailey, movies help families gear up their Christmas spirit in the days leading up to the festive day.

Number 6: Party. Christmas parties have become an essential part of the American holiday season, and the office Christmas party is a notoriously good time. The Christmas party can be one of two things. One, the party can be the chance to see old friends and colleagues, and make new ones under the mistletoe. Or the Christmas party can be a chance to create stories for the rest of the office to share over the New Year.

Number 5: Eggnog. This holiday treat is often linked to Number 6, and perhaps is a lot of the problem with Number 6.

Number 4: Cookies. For children and grownups alike, this may be the best Christmas tradition of all. Every holiday season, children of all ages bake up an assortment of their Christmas cookie specialties, while the rest of the family anxiously waits to taste their wonderful creations.

Number 3: Stockings. Each Christmas season, stockings can be found throughout American homes. Stockings may include gag gifts, like coal, or little gifts, like candy, CD’s, and socks. Either way, hanging a stocking from the fireplace mantle is as much of a part of Christmas as Santa Claus and Rudolph.

Number 2: Christmas lights. Speaking of Santa and Rudolph, how else can they find your house on Christmas Eve without a little help from decorations all over your abode? The brilliant colors and cheer of Christmas decorations on a home is enough to warm the heart of even the biggest Grinch. Just be careful not to pull a “Clark Griswold”!

Number 1: Christmas Tree. Besides the manger scene, there is not a better known symbol of Christmas than the Christmas tree. Trees around the United States are fully decked out in lights, ornaments, and a star on top, waiting for Santa to come and fill the underneath with presents for the entire family.

Whether your favorite Christmas tradition made our list or not, the most important thing to remember this holiday season is to make cherished memories with your loved ones. Celebrate deep-rooted traditions and continue to create new holiday traditions to share with your family and friends.

- Thomas Easterday is the Director of Marketing for Letter By Santa. Create a new tradition with your children by ordering a memorable letter from Santa Claus. For more information about Letter by Santa please visit www.letterbysanta.com.


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The Legend of Santa Claus
By J Gardener

OK-it's that time of year, again, when you're no longer The Most Influential Adult in your kids' eyes. You've been replaced, at least temporarily, by The Fat Man, The Jolly One, The Old White Beard, himself. In some ways, it's actually a good thing, because as Christmas approaches, you find it a little easier to enforce your rules and affect some unexpectedly good behavior:

"You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm tellin' you why…"

That song alone can shut down a five-year-old's tantrum faster than cotton candy. You even find yourself, at times, wishing that Christmas would come around, at least once a month. Who's the genius that invented this guy?

He's only part invention, and you've probably heard this at some point in your life, but chances are, you've forgotten.

The modern version of Santa Claus can trace his lineage back to Bishop Nicholas of Smyrna-in what is now Turkey-who lived in the late 3rd century, AD. Legend has it that he was very wealthy, and dedicated to helping the poor, especially poor children. Supposedly, he often tossed toys and gifts in through the windows of their homes. After his death, he was named by the church as the patron saint of children and seafarers. St. Nicholas's name day is in December, and in Europe during the Middle Ages, he came to be associated with the Christmas season, and with bringing gifts to children.

In the early versions of his legend, he wore red bishop's robes, and rode through the sky on a horse, often accompanied by an elf named Black Peter, whose task was to punish bad children.

In the Netherlands, St. Nicholas's name was shortened to Sinter Klaas, a name brought to the Dutch settlements of New York in the 17th century. Author Washington Irving, in his 1809 "History Of New York" described the Dutch version of the saint, but it was undoubtedly Clement Clarke Moore's 1823 poem, "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" (commonly known as "Twas The Night Before Christmas") that cemented the relationship of the "jolly old elf" with Christmas Eve. It was also the first time the Big Guy's reindeer, and his use of the chimney as his entrance, were mentioned in print.

From the 1860's through the 1890's, illustrator Thomas Nast produced a series of illustrations of St. Nick for Harper's Magazine, which included details such as Santa's workshop, the elves who made toys, and Santa's "list" of children who'd been naughty and nice.

Our modern Santa was certainly "born" in the series of illustrations used by the Coca-Cola Company, beginning in the 1930's. Along the way, someone ingeniously decided that Santa lived in a remote, nearly inaccesible location, the North Pole, presumably to discourage inquisitive children from persuading their parents to take them for a visit.

It's always a bittersweet moment for parents, when they realize that their children no longer believe in Santa Claus. But every parent's dirty secret is that it's not just a moment about lost innocence and growing up too fast. It's also a moment that presents a new challenge:

"Oh no. Now what can I use to get them to behave?"

Brought to you by Imaginary Greetings, a regular contributor of valuable family oriented content. Learn how to truly light up your child's eyes this holiday season like never before with a personalized phone call from Santa.



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Keep Your Dog Safe During The Winter Holidays

It's the most wonderful time of the year for people, but not dogs. Thousands of our furry friends end up lost, injured or sick during the winter holidays. Take a few moments to learn how you can easily make this holiday season a safe and happy one for dogs and puppies.

The best way to keep pets safe over the holidays is to think of them as children. Like children, the dangers to your pet depend largely on their age, training and ability to follow simple commands. A new puppy is more at risk because they lack the training and experience to deal with increased holiday activity in a household.

Untrained pups tend to 'bolt' out of an open door or gate and may not be missed for hours. Pups can easily be stepped on while trying to navigate their way through all the extra feet. Children can accidentally injure a puppy during rough play if adults are too busy to monitor them. Prevent injury to your pup by setting up a playpen or using a child safety gate to create a safe place for your pet to access food, water and a potty area away from all the activity.

Dogs of all ages tend to be overfed during the holidays. It's natural for dogs to 'beg' for food. With all the extra cooking and eating, people feel guilty and give their pets lots of human food. This can make them sick and will add to the problem of obesity in older dogs. Never give chicken or turkey bones to dogs. They can splinter causing serious throat or internal damage.

Holiday plants such as mistletoe, poinsettias, lilies and holly can poison or make your dog very sick. These should be placed in areas that cannot be reached by dogs or younger children. Most kids instinctively pluck at plants, taste leaves and petals or offer them to pets.

Dogs that like to chew will try and make a meal of extension cords and electrical wires. Help your pet avoid a shocking experience by purchasing wire and cord protectors. Use pre-assembled Christmas Tree Light Sets. These easily wrap around the tree, tuck just inside brances and allow for connection to electrical sources near the top. This helps eliminate the danger of dangling light wires or loose extension cords under the tree.

Pet Owners that prefer traditional light sets should string their lights from the bottom of the tree up. Connect them to power sources near the middle or top of the tree. Dogs love to lay under or behind Christmas Trees. It's easy for them to become entangled in loose wires causing strangulation, injury to extremities or worse as they try to get loose. If they pull hard enough, the tree will probably fall on top of them.

If you decide on a real tree instead of an artificial one, you will have to pet-proof the area around it. Dogs tend to chew on or eat pine needles and drink tree water. The needles can cause internal damage. Freshness treatments contain chemicals or fertilizer and stale water is a breeding ground for bacteria.

Artificial trees pose a risk because of the decorations we place on them. Broken Christmas ornaments and light bulbs can get stuck in a dog's paw or mouth if they are chewed. If eaten, the sharp pieces will probably cause internal damage. Tinsel can cause an intestinal blockage.

Creating a safety zone between your dog and a Christmas tree can be accomplished in several ways. You can cut a real tree down to fit on a tabletop. Artificial trees assemble in sections and can be sized to fit on top of a table. Use gifts to fill in the space below. If you prefer the traditional floor to ceiling tree, screens or portable fencing can be used to keep pets and children away from the tree and gifts.

Most holiday pet problems involve strangers. If holiday visitors are unfamiliar with your pet situation, you cannot blame them when dogs are accidently let out, given unhealthy treats or allowed to do things they shouldn't. If you're going to allow your dog to mingle, let holiday guests know what is and isn't allowed when it comes to your pet.

Now let’s discuss the B word. Despite the best training in the world, it’s almost impossible to predict how a dog will react to someone new. A dog BITE can cost you a lot of money and end up being a death sentence for your pet. Think twice before you allow your dog or puppy to roam freely in an area filled with strangers. Apart from biting, young children can be mangled or clawed by larger dogs that are suddenly frightened.

The holiday season is the time for wishful thinking when it comes to gifts, not pets. If you’re not sure how your dog will react to seasonal changes in the home, take steps to protect your pet. As every parent or experienced pet owner knows, you only get one chance to protect and care for those you love.

- Bill, AzPuppies.com



Everything Christmas
Christmas Recipes
Craft, Decorating, Party Ideas
Romantic Gift Ideas
Christmas Music, Movies, Books
Fast Gift Ideas