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Kendrick Carmouche Is The First Black Jockey In The Kentucky Derby Since 2013 

Kendrick Carmouche is set to become the first Black jockey to participate in the Kentucky Derby in eight years, however, that’s only part of his story, and he’s ready to tell the rest of it. 

Carmouche grew up the son of a jockey in Louisiana, so he was exposed early on in his life to the culture and lifestyle. He would wake up at 4:30 in the morning and follow his father into the area bush tracks where he would watch and help him practice. 

When he was 16-years-old, back in 2000, he began riding professionally himself. Ever since he’s enjoyed a long 21-year-long career that moved him from Louisiana to Texas to Philadelphia, and now he’s positioned as one of the best jockeys in New York. Back in September 2018, Carmouche suffered a painful leg injury that forced him to endure a lengthy six-month recovery. However, his return to the tracks has given him some of the greatest achievements in his career. 

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In the fall of 2020 he earned the riding title at Aqueduct and his first Grade 1 victory back in December 2020. Now, on May 1st of this year, he will be riding in the Kentucky Derby for the first time. 

“If you don’t dream it, it’s never going to happen. I dreamed it. To be here at this point and how long it took and the hard work that I put in to get to this point, going to the Kentucky Derby, this is icing and everything on the cake.”

When asked about advice that he would give to young jockeys who will be watching him compete in May, Carmouche claimed that “You have to polish yourself. You have to ride smart. You have to do all the correct things and grind it out until that happens. This is where I want to be.”

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Carmouche is the first Black jockey to compete in the Kentucky Derby since Kevin Krigger, who finished in 17th back in 2013. Originally, Black jockeys were the majority of competitors in the derby, winning 15 out of the first 28 races in the beginning of the Derby’s history. Now, Carmouche marks one of the very few Black jockeys in the United States, and he says he hopes to inspire many others to follow in his footsteps. 

“I think people just need to open their eyes and realize it doesn’t matter what color you are. You work hard. You’re an honest person. You want the best for you and your family and the team you’re putting together at the track so you can win races. It’s no black or white. It’s just purple or green, whatever you want to call it. We all bleed the same.”

Carmouche said his confident attitude comes from his father, who pushed him to leave home and pursue this career when he was younger. “My parents told me to get the hell out of Louisiana. They told me, ‘Go make yourself your own home.’ People get it twisted. They try to make their home where they’ve been at all their life. You can’t do that. You’ve got to go make your own home with your own family, your own kids.”

Sylvester Carmouche, his father, and several other family members are planning to make it to Louisville on Derby Day to watch Kendrick ride.

Holiday Zoom Call

Using Technology To Keep In Touch Over The Holidays 

The holidays are obviously going to be much different this year. As most of us have already experienced with Thanksgiving, taking advantage of the multitude of digital tools out there that keep us connected with our loved ones has been the best way to keep the holidays alive this year. Since we won’t be able to celebrate Christmas and all the other holidays normally this year, it’s time to start planning some digital festivities to keep the positive spirit up!

First, choose a good medium to use to connect you with your loved ones. As most of us know at this point, Zoom is one of the best platforms for video-chatting with multiple individuals at once, however, for most users they’re limited to a 40-minute time-stamp for video calls which then prompts users to create a new room and send out the link again. On Thanksgiving, Zoom removed the 40-minute limit so that families could talk for an unlimited amount of time, and while they will likely do this again at some point for Christmas, there are other platforms one could easily use too. 

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Google Meet doesn’t require any additional software to be downloaded onto your device, you just need a Google account. FaceTime also allows for over 30 individuals to be in a call at once, so if you and your loved ones all own Apple devices this is another great option for you to connect. 

Next, make a nice set up for your device. Chances are you don’t want to spend the whole night sitting at a table or desk and talking with your family, so set it up in a comfortable spot in your home that makes it feel as though your entire family is in the room with you. If you have a smart TV or streaming box of any kind, you likely will be able to stream your device’s screen onto the television. By setting up your computer where the TV is as well, it will seem as though your entire family is at the center of your space.  

If you’re alone for the call, or can manage it with multiple people, wear headphones for the call. This way you’re able to move throughout your space and still hear everyone clearly, assuming you own wireless headphones. Additionally, most video-chatting platforms work better when the users wear headphones in terms of audio feedback. 

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For most platforms, when one individual is speaking, everyone else’s mics are typically muted, so sometimes the audio can sound really choppy when multiple people are trying to speak at once. If everyone’s wearing headphones, this problem is much less persistent. 

Make it a full on event and sync up a cocktail hour, appetizer, and dinner time with your family. By having and sticking to a schedule, it will really feel like you’re all together and celebrating at once. If you want to take it a step further, try to sync up the entire menu so that everyone is eating and enjoying the same meal. This is a great way to keep any holiday traditions alive in terms of the meal and what you and your family tend to create together. 

Finally, have fun with it. Maybe set up some digital holiday games that everyone can enjoy within their living rooms, or set up a secret Santa drop off so that everyone can open their gifts to one another on screen in front of the individuals who got them the gifts. Just because our holidays are looking different this year doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice any of the joy and spirit that makes this time of year so magical.

Halloween Movie

Classic Halloween Movies To Get You In The Spooky Spirit 

Halloween in 2020 definitely looks a little different than what the world is used to, however, just because there’s a global pandemic happening outside of our doors that doesn’t mean we still can’t enjoy all the fun festivities the holiday has to offer. And what better way to get you and your quarantine crew in the mood for spooky season than some classic Halloween entertainment? 

Scream: This classic teen-slasher film is a trailblazer for modern murder-mysetery scary movies. This cult classic follows Cindy Prescott, a year after her mothers murder, as she fights off an evil ghost-faced killer who’s hunting down her and all of her friends. 

Get Out: This newer film has already been highly regarded as a horror classic. Written and directed by Jordan Peele, this film follows a Black photographer who goes home with his white girlfriend to meet her family for the first time. Surrounded by comments of casual racism, the relationship and dynamics of the characters only gets more and more ominous as it progresses. 

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Beetlejuice: This Tim Burton horror/comedy classic follows a ghost couple who are working to haunt their prior home with the help of a devilish poltergeist spirit known as Beetlejuice. The 1988 film has had multiple modern adaptations, including a Broadway show, but nothing compares to the original classic. 

Halloween: It truly isn’t Halloween until you’ve watched the classic 1978 film of the same name. This movie was a part of that classic set of horror movies that were filmed in the 70s and 80s that set the standard for the horror movie genre as we know it today. While there have been multiple sequels, reboots, and spin-offs, the original film starring Jamie Lee Curtis has gone doesn in history as one of the best horror films of all time. 

Edward Scissorhands: This movie also comes from the unique and spooky mind of Tim Burton and stars Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder. This unlikely love story follows a man with scissor blades for hands who falls for your average girl next door suburban teenager. 

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Ghostbusters: If you’re looking for a more family-friendly Halloween movie to watch look no further than the 1984 classic Ghostbusters. Or spice it up with a marathon and watch the first, second and third film and top it off with the hilarious 2016 remake starring Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. 

Carrie: This Stephen King novel adaptation follows an introverted teenage girl with a complicated relationship with her mother, and an unexpected secret gift. After being bullied relentlessly all year Carrie finally decides to stand up to herself at the school prom and let’s just say it gets quite … messy. 

The Exorcist: You aren’t a real fan of horror movies unless you’ve seen this 1973 classic. This film set the standard for all demon possession type scary movies as it follows a young girl and her mother who attempts to save her daughter from demonic possession. After countless attempts she finally calls upon the church to perform an exorcism. 

Hocus Pocus: Another family-friendly classic Halloween movie, this film stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as three witches in Salem, Massachusetts who are resurrected on Halloween and spend the night trying to suck the youth out of all the trick or treaters as a means of staying young and beautiful. 

Child’s Play: This movie introduced the infamous Chucky doll horror character to the world in 1988. When Chucky gets possessed by a serial killer, he wreaks havoc on his new owners and changes the definition of “play time.”

Monopoly

Fun Board Games To Keep Your Family Entertained In Quarantine

Passing the time is beginning to get tougher and tougher as this quarantine/pandemic continues to linger in our world. Getting creative with your family is no easy feat after spending more than two months under the same roof together, however, when in doubt it’s never a bad idea to return to your roots. 

For example, what ever happened to sitting down together and playing a good old fashioned board game? Board games are easy, fun, and most importantly, distracting! Most of them can also be ordered online as well, so what should you and your family play first? Here’s a list of some of the most popular and classic board games out there today:

Monopoly: One of the most classic family board games that’s been on the market for decades, Monopoly has been known to cause some extremely friendly-competition in the household. There’s also a ton of specialized versions of the game that any kid would love, such as Disney themed Monopoly. Monopoly typically sells for about $20 as well. 

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The Game Of Life: This game is just as much of a classic as Monopoly. If you’ve been missing travelling during this pandemic, the Game of Life released a special version of the classic board game with TripAdvisor that allows all players to “go through life” while visiting some of the most unique vacation spots in the world along the way. The Game Of Life also typically retails for $20.

Pictionary: This classic board game allows you to release your inner artist as you draw pictures quickly while your teammates guess what it is! Pictionary is currently available at Target for $14, but this game can also be played easily by simply looking up different ideas to draw.

Mouse Trap: In this game players work to build an intricate “mouse trap” design to try to catch each player’s mouse while they go around the board collecting cheese. The game itself is 3D so it’s especially great for young kids who love to embrace their creative and tactile side. The game is currently on sale for $20

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Where In the World is Carmen Sandiego?: This game is based off the beloved TV series and computer game of the same name, and prompts players to embark on an international secret mission to find a missing Carmen Sandiego and recover all the precious treasures she’s stolen. The game retails for $10.

Cards Against Humanity: If you’re quarantined with your friends or other adults, you may want a game that’s made with your demographic in mind. Cards Against Humanity is an adult version of Apples To Apples that you’ll truly need to experience for yourself to understand all the hype. The game retails for $25 and you can also buy a ton of expansion card packs for endless playing options. 

7 Wonders: This game is for individuals who are 10 and up, so while kids can still play it, the directions are a little more complex than other classic board games like Candyland. In this strategy game, players become the leaders of seven great cities which will eventually be built into the seven wonders of the ancient world. This game is on the more expensive side due to its extensive and strategic nature, retailing for $45.

Scrabble: Many individuals are hesitant to play this game because of its more “academic” nature, however, this game is perfect for passing extended periods of time and using your brain muscles, which a lot of us aren’t really doing right now; I’m looking at all of you who are on their fifth reality TV binge of the pandemic already, myself included. The classic word-game is currently on the market for $28.

Kids Playing Freeze Dance

Activities To Keep Your Kids Moving While Stuck Inside

Having your kids at home during a worldwide pandemic is truly no easy feat. Between homeschooling, your own personal job, and making sure your family is staying healthy and safe in quarantine, there’s a lot to do in a given day. Exercise and physical activity is extremely important, especially for young kids who are continuing to grow regardless of a lock down. So keep your kids moving by implementing some fun exercise/sports-like games in their day. There’s plenty of things kids can do during their daily at-home “recess” time indoors that will keep their bodies and minds active and engaged. Here are a few ideas to help inspire you:

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Obstacle Courses: What kid doesn’t love the thrill of an obstacle course? One of the benefits of setting up a course in your home/on your property is that your kids can get involved in the creation process using things from all around the house. So this activity isn’t just engaging your child’s body, but mind as well to problem solve and figure out what obstacles would be the most fun/challenging for them. 

Animal Races: A new and fun alternative to racing with your little ones is called animal racing. You can do this same type of race for any kind of category that allows participants to act out whoever/whatever they get assigned; for example Disney Princesses, mythical creatures, actors, etc. Fill a bowl up with various types of animals and have everyone draw one. Then set up a race track where every participant will have to act like their assigned animal until they get to the finish line.

Balloon Ball: In another classic indoor birthday party activity, balloon ball follows the same basic protocol as “The floor is lava!” game, which is another great option by the way. Fill up a bunch of balloons and try to keep them off the ground by passing them back and forth. “Level up” by adding more and more balloons into the mix until it’s nearly impossible to keep all of them up at once!

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Freeze Dance/Musical Chairs: This is another easy option that kids can even do on their own! YouTube offers a multitude of freeze dance videos that cycle through a variety of songs, many of which are oriented towards kids, and randomly pauses the music throughout to indicate when the kids should stop dancing. Besides that, the only requirement it would have from you is pressing the play/pause button. 

Clean-Up Race: We all can relate to our parents tricking us into cleaning our rooms/the house by offering some sort of “prize” or proclaiming the fastest to clean is the winner. While this may be a sneaky tactic, it really is one of the most effective ways to get your kids to clean up after themselves, hence why it’s been used for so long. Incentives/Prizes don’t have to be too complicated either, you can simply offer your kids an extra serving of desert or the ability to choose the next movie to watch on family movie night. 

Between all of these options and others – like pillow fights, fort building, jump rope, tag, red rover, chalk, etc. – there are plenty of activities your kids can be doing daily to keep their minds, bodies, and spirits active and moving. It can be hard to remember to take care of ourselves as much as we are our loved ones during this pandemic, so get your kids to play in the yard for the next hour, and take a load off, you deserve it.

Valentines Day Gift

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide For All Of Your Loved Ones

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and whether you’re single or taken this year, it’s never a bad idea to celebrate love. If you’re single, the cynic in all of us can take over, causing a month-long wave of self-pity and loneliness. However, who said that Valentine’s Day is only for those in relationships? It’s a holiday built around love and as we know, there is more than one way to love. We love our parents, siblings, friends, pets, co-workers, etc. so let’s celebrate all of the love in our life, and what better way to do that than with a gift? 

This year, go beyond just chocolates and flowers; while those are classic options that will always work, it’s nice to add some unique flare to an otherwise predictable holiday in terms of gifts. 

One of the best gifts you can give a loved one is the gift of comfort. What do they do in order to unwind from their hectic lives? Amazon has a million options for comfortable clothing, pajamas, and blankets that anyone would love to get cozy in after a long day of work. Throw in some customizable heart-shaped tea bags for comfort they can ingest and you got a whole mini care package! If they’re looking for a more adult form of comfort, Amazon also offers a deal on a customizable 6-pack for your loved ones. 

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Customizable anything is always a great option that will warm the hearts of anyone. Regardless of what it is, custom elements that show you went the extra mile to make something specific for the recipient always takes a gift to the next level. Etsy is one of the best websites for custom anything. From wine labels, to guitar picks, Etsy offers hundreds of thousands of products that you can make specific to fit the needs of all your loved ones. Other examples of customizable items that make great gifts include jewelry, candles, picture frames, portraits, mugs, and more!

One of the better ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day, especially if you are maybe feeling a little lonely, is to celebrate Galentine’s Day! The coveted pre-valentines holiday that was coined by Amy Pohler’s character, Leslie Knope, in the show Parks and Recreation, is meant to celebrate all the wonderful women and friendships that one has in their life. What better way to do that with some wine. 

Wine and alcohol in general is an amazingly universal gift that anyone (who enjoys drinking legally and responsibly) will enjoy. The best part? Unless you’re a real wine-head, all of it tastes the same regardless of how much you spend, so it’s a great way to show your love for someone on a budget as well. 

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Going along with the theme of comfort and Galentine’s Day; self-care is always in season, so why not make it a little easier for your loved ones to love themselves with some basic self-care needs? Jade Rollers have become extremely trendy in terms of skin-care, and thanks to the massive demand there’s plenty of affordable options. 

When it comes to self-care gifts, don’t overthink it, what would you want for yourself? Face masks, eye masks, nail polish, trashy magazines, fancy desserts, and scented anything, all create an environment of being in the present, and appreciating yourself and those around you. 

Finally, when it comes to gifts you can give to your loved ones, think about their everyday needs. So often when we have to get a gift for someone, we think more about what they’ve been saying that they want, over what they actually need. But when we buy our loved ones something they say they’ve been meaning to get to or do for a while, it shows that we’re always listening and care about the way their lives are running. 

Gifts that cover everyday needs can be as simple as a portable phone charger, for the friend who’s phone is always dead, or a subscription to a monthly shaving razor club, for the friend who never has time to go to the store because their regular lives are so busy. Other gifts can even be as boring as car mats or a monthly planner, both of which show that you care. 

Regardless of what you decide to get for any of your loved ones, pick something else up for yourself as well. The biggest, longest, and most important relationship that we all endure is the one with ourselves, so don’t forget to take yourself out every once and a while and buy yourself some flowers, you deserve some special treatment too.

Couple Camping

The Top 5 Campgrounds in New York for 2020

New York is home not only to one of the largest cities in the world, but also some of the country’s most beautiful nature sites, as parts of Niagara Falls, the Adirondack Mountains, and world-renowned beaches can all be found within the Empire State. One of the best and most affordable ways to experience all of the natural beauty the state has to offer is by staying at one of New York’s many campgrounds, whether that means sleeping in a tent, renting an RV, or even booking a cottage or cabin. As many of the best campgrounds in the state tend to book up quickly, it’s best to make plans for a camping vacation early in the year to ensure you can stay at the campsite you prefer. To help you get a head start on your vacation plans this summer, here are the top 5 campgrounds in New York for 2020.

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5) North-South Lake Campground

Nestled deep within the Catskill Forest Preserve, North-South Lake Campground offers a total of 219 camping sites in 7 camping loops, and campers can visit two lakes with two beaches as well as picnic areas and hiking trails. A number of historical sites, such as Alligator Rock, Kaaterskill Falls, and the former site of the Catskill Mountain House can be found within the park. This campground is likely to be preferred by residents of Long Island or New York City, as it is located in the southern part of the state, making the trip fairly quick compared to other campgrounds on this list.

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4) Cranberry Lake Campground

This campground is located in a secluded part of the state, in the northwest part of Adirondack Park. Though it is located far away from tourist attractions in the state, Cranberry Lake Campground offers more than fifty miles of hiking trails as well as opportunities for biking and rowing. Campers can choose from among 171 campsites, which can support both tents and RVs, and the park includes a fishing pier, an amphitheater, and a picnic area, among other amenities. Visitors can swim in the lake, though no lifeguards are on duty, and can also use power boats, rowboats, kayaks, and canoes. Cranberry Lake Campgrounds is suitable for a wide variety of campers, as it features hiking trails of all levels of difficulty, each with scenic views of a relatively-untouched wilderness.

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3) Hunter Lake Campground

This campground advertises itself as “a scenic campground built on family values,” and as such, it offers a number of activities that the whole family can enjoy. Located in the western Catskill Mountains, Hunter Lake Campground is home to a country store, an enclosed pavilion where kids can play ping-pong, pool, air hockey, and video games, and a sandy beach at the shore of Hunter Lake, where campers can swim and ride in boats. Each of the campsites have water and electricity, and RV sites include a sewer hookup as well. Pets are allowed at this campground, so all members of the family, including canine companions, are welcome to stay.

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2) Alger Island

Also known as Big Island, Alger Island is located on Fourth Lake within the Adirondack Park. The entire island, which is only accessible by boat, is operated as a New York State Park campground, featuring 15 sites with lean-tos all located by the island’s shore. While the selection of activities available on the island itself is fairly limited, the island is close to several nearby tourist attractions, including a museum, a golf course, and a theme park. Campers can go jet-skiing in the nearby lake and enjoy lunch at the picnic tables provided on the campsites while enjoying their view of the water. Alger Island is ideal for campers looking for a unique experience, but site availability is limited, so be sure to book your campsite well in advance.

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1) Hither Hills State Park

Long Island is home to some of the most celebrated beaches in the world, and there’s perhaps no better way to enjoy the island’s beaches than to stay at one of the campsites at Hither Hills State Park. Though the campground features an impressive 189 sites, Hither Hills is one of the most popular campgrounds in the state, so it’s best to make your reservations as early as possible. Located on the east end of the island in Montauk, Hither Hills offers sites for both tents and RVs, which offer stunning views of the dunes, beach, and ocean. Campers can take advantage of activities hosted on the expansive beach, including volleyball games, sand castle contests, and campfire jamborees, or visit the nearby Hamptons.

Online Shopping

Facing Online Competition, Toy Stores Forced to Innovate

In the face of the existential threat to their business posed by Amazon and other online retailers, toy stores are obligated to innovate or face extinction, as in the case of the ill-fated Toys R Us. Camp is one store that does just that by offering children an opportunity to play with toys before their parents buy them, transforming the shopping process into one more focused on creating family experiences. Indeed, Camp, which recently opened a store in Downtown Brooklyn, bills itself as a “family experience store,” not strictly as a toy store, and the company hopes to lure customers away from online stores by creating a space where kids can have fun and parents can enjoy spending time with their children. In addition to selling toys, Camp hosts family activities, such as arts and crafts projects like making gingerbread houses or building a balloon powered car. The stores change their theme every few months in a bid to encourage families to visit repeatedly; currently, the space is summer-camp themed, and offers spaces like a playground and disco floors for children to play.

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While it’s free for anyone to visit any of Camp’s five retail locations, toys that are available for purchase can be found all over the place, enticing children to convince their parents to buy them something that catches their attention. As such, Camp’s plan to compete with online retailers involves fostering a physical environment where people are more likely to spend money. While it is surely expensive to maintain a store like this, the company hopes that the unique space they offer will attract not only children but parents who would prefer for their kids to play somewhere in the real world instead of engaging mainly with electronic devices. While this may be a risky strategy given the complicated and unpredictable environment of today’s retail industry, it is one that has resonated with investors, who are helping to fund the company’s expansion.

Camp’s bet is that even in this day and age, children are still interested in exploring physical spaces and interacting with each other in person

Digital media poses a threat to the toy industry in more ways than the popularity of online stores. Indeed, toys themselves may become less attractive to children as technology advances, as smartphones and tablets can provide a more engaging experience. And while video games have been a favorite among children for decades, recent advancements in technology have made this hobby far more widespread, as devices like iPhones and iPads grow in popularity and versatility. However, technology has also led to the collapse of physical media, as it is much more convenient to download a game, movie, or even book than it is to buy one from a retail location. Video gaming is a tremendously popular industry, and as toy stores generally sell video games as well, the fact that children are less likely to go to the toy store for video games in recent years is another factor that threatens the industry.

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Camp’s bet is that even in this day and age, children are still interested in exploring physical spaces and interacting with each other in person, but often miss opportunities to do so as they grow up in an increasingly digital environment. While traditional camp programs are expensive and can mean several weeks of separation between parents and their children, Camp is nominally free, and the company’s retail locations are in densely-populated, affluent neighborhoods, ensuring its customers don’t have to travel too far to get there. Unsurprisingly, the toys at Camp are sold at a premium to subsidize the rest of the experience. However, for many parents, the opportunity to spend some quality family time in an environment that’s fun for kids makes the added cost worth it.

Christmas Movie

Top Ten Christmas Movies You Should Watch

Christmas has many meanings for many different people, whether you celebrate the original religious aspects of the day, enjoy the opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones, or whether you just look forward to the many Christmas movies that are available.

We have listed our top ten movies below and we can not wait to settle down on the sofa and binge watch them all.

#10 – A Bad Moms Christmas

Moms everywhere will appreciate the sentiment behind A Bad Moms Christmas. With the pressure seemingly intense over the festive period it can be hard for parents to see where the hard work finishes and the fun starts, with many of us wishing we could just ‘quit’ Christmas. But would we be able to do it in such a spectacular way?

Main characters Amy, Kiki and Carla all have their moms come to visit for the holidays with varying degrees of mayhem that many daughters out there will relate to.

#9 – Arthur Christmas

Based on the theory that the role of Santa gets passed down through the generations, Arthur Christmas looks at the differences between modern technology and doing things the old fashioned way.

When it’s discovered that a child has been missed on Christmas Eve, Arthur decides he must save the day, with hilarious consequences.

#8 – A Wonderful Life

Christmas is never complete without at least one viewing of A Wonderful Life, the story of George Bailey facing his demons after sinking into deep depression.

Looking back at George’s old life before he became overwhelmed with his new life, his guardian angel Clarence arrives to ensure that George realizes just how big a part he has played in not only his loved ones’ lives but the lives of those in the town where he carries out his good deeds.

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#7 – Mrs Miracle

If you love cheesy Christmas movies you will love Mrs Miracle – and the sequel Calling Mrs Miracle. Seth Webster is struggling to cope with his boisterous twins following the death of their mother and in unable to not only keep a nanny but also find love.

Cue Mrs Miracle who arrives to take over his life and subtly manoeuvre his life to where it should be. But will everything work out how it should?

#6 – Dr Seuss – How The Grinch Stole Christmas

A movie aimed at children but perfect for a family movie night, The Grinch brings a mixture of joy and bah-humbug to the festive period.

Following the story of little Cindy Lou Who and her quest to ensure The Grinch is not alone at Christmas.

#5 – Miracle on 34th Street

Who can forget this beautiful story of the hard working mum and the precocious daughter trying to forge ahead in life together.

Set in department store CF Coles – the 1994 remake of the 1947 classic shows how the store-hired Santa is actually the real thing. Both films are worth a view with varying arguments on which is the better movie.

#4 – Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

Animated films are usually aimed at the younger ones but there’s something about Christmas that makes us all want to watch them.

Looking at the story of Santa’s leading reindeer, this 1948 classic is a favorite in most homes across the country. After Santa and his sleigh crash while delivering presents can Rudolph save the day?

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#3 – The Polar Express

Head to the North Pole for this animated classic that is the perfect Christmas Eve movie for the family to watch.

We join Hero Boy, Hero Girl, Lonely Boy and many other children as they head on the magical train journey that has plenty of adventure along the way. Can you hear the bell?

#2 – Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

A top ten list of Christmas movies would not be complete without Home Alone 2, the story of a family who manages to lose their son at the airport – again!

In this instalment of the film series, Kevin McCallister finds himself in Manhattan, keeping himself safe from Harry and Marv, the villains he upset in the first film.

But will he be found before the big day?

#1 – Elf

Based on the idea that Santa accidentally brings home a child from the orphanage and brings him up as his own, Elf follows the story of Buddy looking for his biological father in New York City.

Not only is he greeted with hostility from his dad and half brother, he also has to enlist their help to get Santa back on the ‘road’ and save Christmas.

We are sure this list will cause many arguments on whether we are right – especially with the debate regarding Die Hard or this season’s contribution ‘Last Christmas’ not yet making the list – but we would love to know your family’s favorite Christmas film.

Traffic

Thanksgiving Travel Expected To Be Highest on Record

With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner many families and friends are planning breaks away to spend time with their loved ones and airlines are anticipating record breaking levels of travel despite the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

An announcement by Airlines for America (A4A) has predicted this year’s Thanksgiving holiday to not only be the busiest time of this year but also in US commercial aviation history.

A major player in American aviation services, A4A represent the nine biggest US cargo and passenger carriers and have claimed over 3.1 million passengers will be traveling on the Sunday after the holiday meaning 1 December could be breaking records across the country.

After analysing the holiday period, A4A have claimed between 31.6 and 55 million passengers will be traveling throughout the 12 day holiday period, an increase of 2.7 per cent over the same period last year.

It is also expected load factors are to be between 79% and 91% for the period, with the official holiday break confirmed as being between Friday 22 November and Tuesday 3 December.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are expecting the busiest days for travel being Wednesday 27 November and Sunday 1 December, with the actual Thanksgiving Day being the quietest time to travel. In fact in order to reduce security line times various U.S. airlines have increased their offerings with a further 850 flights – or 108,000 seats – added to the schedules each day.

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These increases have been predicted despite daily airline departures still being reduced significantly due to the grounding of the 737 Max in March this year following two fatal accidents. Currently 76 new aircraft have not been delivered as expected while 72 planes are still grounded meaning all airlines have had to put together new plans to keep up with demand, including retirements being delayed, holidays being postponed, schedules being restructured and maintenance being carried out where required.

John Heimlich, Vice President and Chief Economist of Airlines for America states, ‘airlines had to take greater measures to offset the Max issues.’

November and December are the busiest periods in the travel calendar however this year the daily departures are currently estimated to have a net reduction of 417 for November and 426 for December, which are higher than average. This is despite the increase over the holiday periods.

Clearly all airlines are keen to have the planes returning to active service with Mr Heimlich commenting on the long term effects the industry could suffer once they are in back in service:

‘It’s unlikely that the manufacturer will be able to deliver all those planes on day one. It will be phased in, and even at the airlines which have already taken delivery of Max aircraft, it will take some time to work them back in to the schedule. The market knows this is coming.’

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The additional aircraft, and therefore extra flights, will be in demand during 2020. Currently the U.S. has a strong economy thanks in part to the constant growth in employment leading to more disposable income. Add to this the consistently low fares as well as consumer confidence at an all time high and the continuing increases in gross domestic product.

According to Boeing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are expected to award certification within the next 6 weeks, however this does not mean there is a specific date for the aircraft to return to our skies.

A4A recently published their industry review and have stated that around $18.1 billion was spent upgrading the metal for all the fleet renewal, satisfying demand, however if the Max had not been grounded the investment would have been nearer $19 billion. According to Heimlich that extra billion dollars should be deferred to the 2020 budge.

Domestic travel has continued to grow throughout the United States with passenger traffic in the first nine months of 2019 seeing an increase of 4 per cent compared to the same period in 2018. An average of 26,100 flights took off from U.S. airports each day via both American and foreign airlines, an increase of 2.7% from last year. The number of seats filled also increased with an extra 3.16 million sold, an increase of 3.5%.

If this has put you off the idea of flying home for the holidays you could drive, however the roads are expected to see around 49.3 million travellers heading to their families. These figures are a 2.8% increase on last year and the largest figures since 2005.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts a peak of traffic on Wednesday as most travelers try to beat the holiday rush. Yet mixed with the every day commuters trips can be expected to take up to four times as long, so make sure you pack enough supplies to keep you fed and watered.