Friday, December 29, 2017

New Year's Eve Safety Tips


You may be out late celebrating the New Year. Welcome it in safely with these tips.
Do: plan a ride in advance
On average, driving accidents rise during the holidays, so it's crucial to have a safe ride on a night when so many people are out and about. Don't assume you'll be able to hail a cab. Know your options in advance and decide whether you'll take public transportation, use a ridesharing service or carpool with your friends.
Don't: leave your car overnight
New Year's Day is the second most active holiday for car thefts. If you must leave your car somewhere overnight, be sure it's locked and try to pick it up as early as possible the next day.
Do: plan for guests' safety
If you're hosting a party, you'll want to be sure your guests get home safely. One option might be to hire a driver for the evening to provide people a way to get home.
Don't: use fireworks or firearms
Both guns and fireworks frequently make 'celebratory' appearances at New Year's Eve parties. But it might not be a good idea with the holiday crowds.
Do: make a plan with your kids
Set a reasonable curfew with your kids for their New Year's Eve festivities. If they're old enough to drive, be sure they understand the dangers of driving on the holiday. Encourage them to stay in one location instead of hopping from party to party.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Meaning of Kwanzaa...



Kwanzaa is a Swahili word that means "first" and signifies the first fruits of the harvest. From December 26 to January 1, many people of African descent in America-celebrate Kwanzaa.
In Africa, there are many customs that are common among the various ethnic groups found on the continent. One of these is the celebration of the harvest. At this time of the year, people of the community/village come together to celebrate and give thanks for their good fortune. Working towards a successful harvest is a communal effort, as is the celebration.
Here in America in 1966, Maulana Ron Karenga and the U.S. Organization adopted the basic principles of the harvest celebrations in Africa to create the observance of Kwanzaa. Karenga recognized that on the whole, African Americans do not live in an agricultural setting. Nonetheless, he sought to emphasize that the basic principles found in producing the harvest are vital to building and maintaining strong and wholesome communities.
In this-way, Kwanzaa was developed. Kwanzaa is that time when we reflect on our use of the basic principles, share and enjoy the fruits of our labor, and recommit ourselves to the collective achievement of a better life for our family, our community, and our people.

Symbols of Kwanzaa
There are symbols which have a special meaning to the celebration of Kwanzaa. The mkeka is a straw mat which symbolizes the tradition as the foundation on which all else rests. The kinara is a seven-space candle holder, representing the original stalk from which the African people originated.
The mishumaa saba (seven candles) stand for the Seven Principles. The muhindi are the ears of corn which represent the offspring (children) of the stalk (parents of the house). The zawadi (gifts) represent the fruits of the labor of the parents and the rewards of seeds sown by the children.

Kwanzaa Customs
During the celebration of Kwanzaa, it is customary to greet friends and family with the Swahili phrase, "Habari gani", meaning, "What is the news?" To respond, answer with the principle of the day. (Umoja, for example, is the response given on December 26th.)
Fasting, or abstaining from food, is often done during Kwanzaa, as a means of cleansing of the mind, soul, and spirit.

The Candlelighting Ceremony
The candlelighting ceremony, central to the celebration of Kwanzaa, takes place at a time when all members of the family are present. Children are encouraged to take an active role in all activities.
The ceremony begins with the TAMBIKO (libation), an African form of praise which pays homage to personal and collective ancestors. To begin, the elder of the household pours wine, juice or distilled spirits from the KIKOMBE CHA UMOJA (unity cup) into the earth or an earth-filled vessel. While pouring, the elder makes a statement honoring departed family members for the inspiration and values they have left with descendants. Friends are also remembered.
After the TAMBIKO, as a gesture of unity, the elder drinks from the KIKOMBE CHA UMOJA and then passes it for all to share. The elder leads the call, "HARAMBEE" (Let's pull together), and everyone participates in repeating the phrase seven times. Candlelighting, central to the ceremony, reinforces the meaning of the principles. The placement of the mishumaa saba (candles) in the kinara is as follows: Black, for the color of African peoples everywhere, is located in the center. Three red candles, represents the blood of the ancestors, are placed to the left. Three green candles that symbolize the earth, life, and the ideas and promise of the future, are placed to the right. Beginning December 26 with the black mushumaa, a different candle is lit for each day, alternating from left to right. After the candlelighting, the principle of the day is discussed.
The evening of December 31 (Day 6) is the KARAMU, a joyous celebration with food, drink, dance, and music for the collective family and friends. It is a time of rejoicing, reassessment and recommitment.

The ZAWADI, handmade or similarly meaningful gifts for children, may be opened at the KARAMU, or on the final day of Kwanzaa, when Imani is observed.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Slow Down and Experience the Real Meaning of the Holiday Season



Amazingly, the holidays are upon us again. It feels as though this time of year comes so fast, turns our lives upside down and is over before we know it. Sometimes it’s hard to be fully present in the moment when we’re overwhelmed and stressed about gift giving, tons of parties to attend, and juggling our families through it all. It helps to step back and take it all in. Slow Down and enjoy the holidays.
Giving is better than receiving…
Make time for others. The good deeds you do will not only help others but really allow you to experience the true meaning of the holidays. Why not volunteer at a soup kitchen, organize a toy drive for underprivileged children or even make time at your child’s school for fun activities? Even simple gestures like baking cookies for your elderly neighbors or inviting those without families to visit during the holidays can be ways to give to others what they would have missed this year.
Peace on earth…
Do you and your neighbor have an ongoing feud concerning your property line or an overgrown tree? Do you not really know your neighbors at all because you work crazy hours? Haven’t seen the in laws in some time, and you’re sort of happy about that? Make the extra effort. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway as a peace offering. Introduce yourself to your new neighbors with a gift of cigars or homemade brownies. Extend the olive branch and offer to host at your home this year. Realize that you are also an x-factor that can change your relationships.
Goodwill toward man…
Spread the good cheer! A positive attitude in your professional and personal life can definitely bring out the best in people. Make the extra effort to find the positive angle in situations that may not appear to be so great. Involve your family and coworkers in decision making. Find what it is that they want to do and attempt to incorporate it into “the plan.” If your workmate feels that his approach toward a client or situation might be the best way, let him try before (or even IF) you need to use your own approach. Have your children decide on, and then plan for, a family outing. Enjoy spending time together and focus on just being with them, rather than whatever is on your holiday to-do list!.
Let it snow…
Stock up your cupboards with the fixings for holiday treats and cocoa. Enjoy the season… enjoy the snow and the early evenings. Go sledding and skating… warm up in front of the fire, and spend time with those that you love. Pull out the seasonal favorites:  It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, The Santa Clause… plan a movie night with your spouse or even the whole family! Pop popcorn, have a few hot toddies… find simple reasons to enjoy the season! If you are looking for the best custom ski boot fitting, Big Bear Lake, CA are the best in ski equipment sales and snowboard equipment for the winter season.
There’s No Place Like Home…
For the holidays, make an effort to get together with loved ones, near and far. Sure, the traffic might be terrific and maybe it’s been so long that you’d just as soon stay home. But it’s important to make the effort — especially with family, as they are the roots of who you are and where you came from. Reconnecting with cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces can be a refreshing and fun alternative to your daily grind.
Slow down and enjoy the holidays. Though they do come once a year… make this year count!
David Bohl

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

How The Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan Helps.




Every Holiday Season, we show our generosity and how much we care by helping those less fortunate. This year, we want to make sure local children have warm, comfortable beds to sleep in at night.  The Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan is a Pontiac-based charity that provides as many as 1,000 beds annually to kids who are living in poverty, transitioning from homelessness or working with child protective services. Main Street Bank is assisting in collecting for the charity!

There are two ways we can help:
  1. Donate bedding – By purchasing new twin sheets, blankets and/or comforters, the Furniture Bank will be able to provide a child with comfortable bedding in conjunction with the bed they’re receiving.
  2. Donate money to the Furniture Bank “Beds for Kids” fund – For every $100 the Furniture Bank receives, it is able to purchase a new twin bed that will prevent a local child from having to sleep on the floor.
The Furniture Bank provides beds and other items to 1,400 families annually. It offers free pickup to collect gently-used beds, dressers, sofas, and dining/kitchen table-chair sets from your porch or garage, taking smaller furnishings and housewares when they’re out.  Tell them you work at Main Street Bank, and their trained movers will carefully remove any donated items out of your home at no cost!

 All donations are tax-deductible and donors receive a receipt when their furniture is picked up. To schedule a pickup or learn more about the Furniture Bank, call 248-332-1300 or visit www.furniture-bank.org.

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