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How To Have A Peaceful Thanksgiving, Even When Tensions Are High

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This year, perhaps more than ever, the world just seems on edge. No matter what your political affiliation, it seems that the divides, even within families, are too deep to heal. If you’re dreading sitting down to dinner with your family, there are a few ways to make Thanksgiving more tolerable – and they don’t have to involve wine.

Thanksgiving dinner, courtesy Grayclee/Flickr

Make a list of safe subjects

Scan the internet for current events that aren’t political. There have to be subjects you can all agree on. Make a list of things to talk about. Talk about pleasant family memories or about the children in the family. Talk about the time you scaled that mountain, or even about rude sales clerks. In other words, talk about just about anything but politics, and Apple vs. Android (or PC).

Bring props

If your list of safe topics aren’t working, bring some tools. Give small gifts or bring a light-hearted game for after dinner. Karaoke can be a big hit and there are even phone apps. Bring a piece of memorabilia from an adventure you had during the year.

Pick a mantra

Do you have that family member who insists on turning the dinner table into a debate? If you’re opinionated (as so many of us are), it’s tempting to take that bait, but you don’t have to. Prepare yourself with a mantra. An idea might be, “today is a day of peace,” or “this is about the family.” More importantly, remember that minds are rarely ever changed.

Drink, but not too much

One glass of wine might take away the sting of caring what others say. More than that and you could be itching for a fight.

Take it outside

If you really must get into an argument with your Uncle Phil, arrange to take it outside, but after eating. By that time, you might forget all about it.

Remember that it’s all temporary

Politicians come and go. Your family will be around long after the next election and elections beyond that.

Featured image via Grayclee/Flickr.

Shana Tova – Happy New Years From Ninja Movers

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NewyearToday at sundown begins the very special holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which literally means, “head of the year.” Ninja Movers would like to wish all our friends a very happy New Years!

Traditionally, Rosh Hashanah celebrates the celebrates the beginning of man’s existence and of his relationship with God. It’s also the beginning of the High Holidays, which will culminate in Yom Kippur, beginning on October 3rd.

But the holiday is not just for the religious. Many, religious or not, use the two days of Rosh Hashanah as a time of reflection and to ask themselves how they can be better people in the coming year. People make resolutions, but typically not like the resolutions of January 1st, which are often more trivial. While you might vow to get in shape on January 1st, on Rosh Hashanah, you might commit to working at a homeless shelter in the coming year.

But what is a holiday without food? On Rosh Hashanah, people typically “toast” the new year with honey and apples, for a sweet new year. It’s also a gathering time for family, which means a time for feasting.

Here are some lovely recipes for your High Holiday meals.

However you celebrate the new year, Ninja Movers wishes you a Shana Tova!

11 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

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The New Year, it seems, is a time when everyone takes inventory of their lives and vows to make a fresh start. It rarely works. In fact, the diet and fitness industries make the majority of their money by signing people up who don’t have the follow-through to keep with it, but keep paying for the hope. Don’t be discouraged, though. The mistake most people make is making changes that are too big. Their lives simply don’t have room to add an hour plus at the gym or for cooking separate meals. But all is not hopeless. You can make real and significant changes in your life without making overly dramatic changes.

1. Hug More Often – Consciously spend just an extra 30 seconds a day hugging each member of your family, including your pets. That alone will help lower blood pressure, ease anxiety and even help your memory. Interestingly, hugging strangers actually causes more stress.

2. Workout During Commercials – Little bouts of exercise really add up. If you watch two hours of TV a day, you will be subjected to about 30 minutes of commercials. Instead of sitting on the sofa fast forwarding through the commercials, use them as an opportunity. Run or walk in place, do jumping jacks, do pushups or do some weight exercises. Just get moving. If you’re anything like me, you’ll continue the activity long after the commercials end.

3. Read at Least 10 Pages of a Book Before Bed – Reading is becoming a lost art. We spend much of our free time in front of computer screens instead of in front of a good old fashioned book (books on tablets are okay). Vow to read a chapter a night and if that’s too much (my current book has chapters that are over 100 pages), read 10 pages a night. Your brain will thank you and you’ll be more interesting at parties.

4. Spend 15 Minutes a Day Cleaning Something You Don’t Normally Clean – Take off the handles on your stove, clean behind your refrigerator, vacuum the insides of your sofa, clean a couple of windows. You will be healthier and a lot less stressed.

5. Call One Friend a Week – I have friends that cover more than half the country. I rarely talk to them, but I really enjoy when I do. This year, I vow to talk to one of them once a week.

6. Inventory Your Friends – Sometimes, we have people in our lives who add nothing. In fact, they often leave us feeling worse about ourselves than before we talked to them. If you have friends that aren’t making a positive contribution to your life, dump them. It doesn’t have to be dramatic. Just say something like, “I really don’t think we bring out the best in each other. Perhaps, it’s best if we focus our energies on our other friendships.” I had to do that. My friend didn’t take it well (although she agreed that we didn’t bring out the best in each other), but I stood firm and I feel much happier for it.

7. Digitize One Thing a Day – Recently, my Ninjas delivered a beautiful media center that I bought at a little antique shop in Pacifica. Despite the fact that it’s pretty sizable, several boxes of CDs and DVDs still remain in storage. I can store my electronic media to iTunes (or the equivalent). Video media can be played back on most BluRay players, Apple TV, Roku and TiVo. If I digitize just one a day, I’ll have 365 fewer movies and CDs I’ll have to worry about storing. They aren’t built to last forever. This will keep you from having to replace them years down the road. If you’re not comfortable with iTunes or a cloud storage option, store them on an external hard drive. Scan interesting magazine articles. Sell books that you have no future interest in reading. You’ll be happy come your next moving day.

8. Deal with 10 Pieces of Clutter a Day – Either find them homes or get rid of them.

9. Replace Sugary Treats With Dark Chocolate – It’s nearly impossible to overeat dark chocolate and, unlike most candy, it actually has health benefits.

10. Buy a Slow-Cooker – Make a big batch of something tasty and healthy. The leftovers will keep you going for at least a couple of days and it will keep you from eating fast food.

11. Smile and Say Hello to One Stranger a Day – Who knows, you might actually make a friend or two.


Our Five Favorite Holiday Songs

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The holidays, of course, are a time for family, but sometimes, the family can get a bit restless. Perhaps that’s why Christmas is the time of year that comes with the deepest soundtrack – one that’s sure to soothe even the most anxious for Santa souls. Here are a few of our Ninja favorites. Enjoy.

5. Bing Crosby and David Bowie cross generations with this beautifully sung a capella rendition of the “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.”

4. It would be a true Christmas miracle if the Bay Area saw snow this year, but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying Ole Blue Eyes from crooning his version of “Let It Snow.”

3. Bob Dylan isn’t always the über serious folkster. In this version of “It Must be Santa,” Dylan lets loose and gives us something truly infectious. Try not tapping your toes.

2. Not everyone is with family this Christmas. Some people are home alone, or worse, have been left home alone. If you have Christmas angst (and who doesn’t), vent it with this punk rock version of an anti-Christmas song. From Kate Nash, “I Hate You This Christmas.”

1. No modern list is complete without this modern classic from Mariah Carey, “All I Want for Christmas.”

To be fair, there are a lot more than five favorites, but we had limited space. Please, feel free to  share yours in the comments.

Thanksgiving Pastrami – For This Year’s Hanukkah Thanksgiving

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card_for_thanksgiving_and_hanukkah_thankgivukkah-r541576960ff24615ad378a4dee933491_xvua8_8byvr_512It’s rare, but for the first time in a long time, Hanukkah coincides with everyone’s favorite food and family holiday, Thanksgiving. The last time that happened was in  1888 and we’ll have to wait another 79,000 and change years before it will happen again.

For many, especially children, celebration can be a bit confusing and difficult to navigate. If done right, though, lighting Hanukkah’s second candle during Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be awkward. In fact, Hanukkah’s tradition of unwrapping presents can be made even more special and family-oriented with a Thanksgiving dinner. And aren’t both holidays really about giving thanks for blessings?

If you’re wondering what to fix for Thanks-Hanukkah, a simple addition like a turkey-shaped challah bread adds a Hanukkah flair to Thanksgiving dinner. Chef Danny Boweins suggests making a Thanksgiving pastrami. Here is the recipe:

Whatever you choose, Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah from Ninja Movers!

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