8 Special Ways To Celebrate Feeling Merry And Bright

8 Special Ways To Celebrate Feeling Merry And Bright

What better way to get into the holiday season!

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Ladies and gentleman, it is officially time to start blasting Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' as you drive down the street. Even though it still might not be totally acceptable to attach reindeer antlers to the top of your cars, there are plenty of ways to get involved in the holiday spirit!

1. 25 Days of Christmas Movie Marathon 

Easily one of the best holiday traditions out there. Get snuggled up in your matching pajama set, have some extra hot chocolate ready, and tune into the classic Christmas movies broadcasted every year. Take a night in to truly sit back, relax, and get into the Christmas spirit.

2. Ice Skating in NYC is a MUST

The best way to be a tourist in New York City is to go ice skating! Grab your loved ones for a fun night of skating (or trying to pull off like you can actually skate before you break an ankle after falling on the floor repeatedly). There are ice skating rinks located in Rockefeller Center and in Bryant Park surrounded by glistening Christmas lights and more!

3. Visit Christmas Village Love Park in Philly!

Visit Philadelphia's finest Christmas attraction! For all those who live closer to the greater Philadelphia area, check out The Christmas Village for a chance to watch live performances, attend different events, and take pictures centered around spreading holiday fun!

4. Anyone ready to bake some Christmas cookies?

All I'm saying is if you haven't already bought the holiday-themed Pillsbury cookies you are not celebrating the holiday season right! What better way to spend time with your family than to break out your cookie baking skills by making some tasty treats!? Not only is it a great way to spend the afternoon with loved ones, but also makes any home feel incredibly ready for the holiday season.

5. Alright, it's time to see who can build the best gingerbread house!

Building gingerbread houses are all fun and games until your friend gets a little too competitive, and makes their house look like a legitimate mansion while your's looks like it was done by a 2-year-old. You can purchases any gingerbread house from stores like Target, or Five Below to add some competition into the holiday fun!

6. See the famous Christmas tree in NYC!

New York City is known during the holiday season for this beautiful Christmas tree, and every year and it attracts more and more tourists from all over! A great way to get some holiday pictures on your Instagram is taking one in front of this beautiful tree.

7. Go to a local Holiday Light Show! 

Ever year, designated houses like to overly decorate their homes with Christmas lights, blow ups, and people dressed in costumes to attract multiple guests to check out their light show! This attraction is incredibly fun to visit to see what each home can do to make their home looked decked out in lights throughout the course of the holiday season.

My boyfriend and I go each year, it has become a special tradition for us. Look up local light shows in your area for you and your significant other to visit and enjoy an extravagant night of lights!

8. Attend a Christmas Parade near you!

Local holiday parades are the best way to not only get families to come together to celebrate the holiday season, but also the community. Check out on your local community website about upcoming events regarding a holiday parade today!

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Here's Why You Shouldn't Donate to The Salvation Army This Holiday Season (Or Ever)

No, I’m not a grinch or a scrooge. I’m just a member of the LGBT+ community that is tired of seeing my community suffer at the hands of organizations that are supposed to help us.
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The holiday season is upon us, bringing mall Santas, twinkling lights, and the well-known bell ringers with their red buckets stationed outside busy department stores. The Salvation Army is a mainstay in the memories of our childhood holidays. I remember a number of years where my parents would give each of my sisters and I a handful of change to put in the shiny red bucket as we walked into Wal-Mart to shop for our family Christmas dinner. On the surface, the Salvation Army is an organization with good intentions of helping the less fortunate, especially during the holiday season. However, a quick Google search exposes the organization’s discriminatory practices.

The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian denomination and an international charitable organization. Their mission statement, as stated on their website, reads: “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

Despite their insistence of nondiscriminatory practices, however, there have been several instances of discrimination, specifically against members of the LGBT+ community. In July 2017, a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn, New York, was found by the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) to be discriminating. Three other centers in New York City were also cited as being discriminatory. Violations within the four centers included refusing to accept transgender people as patients or tenants, assigning trans people rooms based on their sex assigned at birth instead of their lived gender identity, unwarranted physical examinations to determine if trans people are on hormone therapy or have had surgery, and segregating transgender patients into separate rooms. The NYCCHR had been tipped off about the mistreatment, and testers from the commission went to the cited centers and found clear evidence of the mistreatment. One of the clinics told the testers outright, “No, we don’t [accept transgender patients].” Another clinic’s representative said, “People with moving male parts would be housed with men.”

This isn’t the first time the Salvation Army has discriminated specifically against transgender people. In 2014, a transgender woman from Paris, Texas fled her home due to death threats she received related to her gender identity. The police told her, “Being the way you are, you should expect that.” She went to Dallas and found emergency shelter at the Carr P. Collins Social Service Center, run by the Salvation Army. The emergency shelter allowed her to stay for 30 days. Towards the end of her 30-day stay, she began looking for other long-term shelter options. One option many of the other women staying in the shelter had recently entered was a two-year housing program also run by the Salvation Army. When the woman interviewed for the program, she was told she was disqualified for the program because she had not had gender reassignment surgery. The counselor for the program later claimed there was a waiting list, but it came out that two women who arrived at the emergency shelter after the transgender woman had already entered the program. The transgender woman filed a complaint with Dallas’s Fair Housing Office, which protects against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. She was able to find other housing through the Shared Housing Project, a project that aims to find transgender people with housing who are willing to support those without.

The Salvation Army’s Christian affiliation drives the organization’s statements and beliefs. The church has a page on its website dedicated to its decided stance on the LGBT+ community that seems to paint a nice picture. Their actions, however, tell a different story. There have been several accounts reporting the Salvation Army’s refusal of service to LGBT+ people unless they renounce their sexuality, end same-sex relationships, or, in some cases, attend services “open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.” The church claims it holds a “positive view of human sexuality,” but then clarifies that “sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage.” This belief extends to their staff, asking LGBT+ employees to renounce their beliefs and essentially their identity in order to align with the organization. The Salvation Army believes that “The theological belief regarding sexuality is that God has ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman and sexual activity is restricted to one’s spouse. Non-married individuals would therefore be celibate in the expression of their sexuality.” Essentially, gay people can’t get married. Unmarried people can’t have sex. Therefore, gay people are forbidden from being intimate with one another. This is unfair to ask of any employee, especially considering that one’s relationship status does not interfere with how well anyone can do their job.

If you are still looking to donate to a non-homophobic and transphobic organization this holiday season, here are some great pro-LGBT+ organizations with outreach similar to that of the Salvation Army:

  • Doctors Without Borders: medical and emergency relief
  • Habitat for Humanity: homelessness and housing
  • Local homeless shelters: search the National Coalition for the Homeless’ website for shelters near you!
  • Local food bank: find your local food bank through Feeding America here.
  • The Trevor Project: a leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBT+ young people ages 13-24.
Cover Image Credit: Ed Glen Today

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10 Reasons Why Having A Boyfriend Is Especially Awesome Around The Holidays

No better time of the year than Winter break to make all the memories with your honey freezing in the weather or sweating by the fireplace.

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A date for looking at Christmas lights is on the top of the list, for sure.

1. You have someone to do all of the activities with

He's like your built-in partner for everything. Wanna watch a movie? Take a nap? Need someone to help you clean your room? You've got your person.

2. You can steal his hoodies when its chilly outside

It doesn't even have to be cold for you to want to. Chances are its a size or two bigger than you need and his cologne is all over it.

3. Chances are he's more willing to drive in the snow than you are 

Guys typically have a little more of a heavy duty vehicle. If you've got a good man, he might even rescue you an hour away in a blizzard if you think you're tougher than the weather.

4. Christmas movie partner!!

Do I need to add more?

5. He can always keep you warm

Bear hugs. Cuddles. His trucks dual air 90 degree heat on your side. He'll find a way to keep you warm.

6. Your family holiday events partner

Multiple Thanksgivings and Christmas' are a breeze with your favorite person by your side. Plus, no one to ask you where your plus one is or why you're single.

7. Matching Christmas pajamas

I don't know about you, but my family has matching Christmas jammies every year. You can even get your favorite person in on them too for a cute insta picture.

8. Your errand running partner

He's your built-in Christmas shopping partner so you aren't bored standing in line forever or while you're still shopping and he can act as your place holder.

9. You aren't the only single one in your family on Christmas Eve anymore. 

It's awkward when all of your siblings are taking pictures with their others, but when you've found your person, you can do all the same things, including looking forward to your new year's kiss.

10. Making more memories

No better time of the year than Winter break to make all the memories with your honey freezing in the weather or sweating by the fireplace.

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