FAMILY AND MARRIAGE: Don’t let Christmas gift giving stress your marriage | Features

“For it is in giving that we receive.” — Francis of Assisi

“Who (Jesus) gave himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father…” — Bible (Galatians 1:4)

As we approach Christmas most of us are thinking of gift-giving and receiving. When we receive gifts, our biggest challenge is having the right attitude, no matter what we think of the gift. We want to believe the gift comes with a sincere heart and a desire on the part of the giver to please us.

Perhaps the bigger challenge is giving gifts with the right attitude. Consider why we give gifts at Christmas in the first place. Whether the world realizes it or not, Christmas should be about the greatest gift any of us can ever receive: the gift of a relationship with God the Father through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. God gives us that gift with no strings attached; He gives it because He loves us.

Often with our spouse we tend to get something without a lot of thought, knowing that it’s expected of us; they would feel bad and we would feel guilty if we didn’t get them something. We tend to take them for granted and give out of obligation. Vance Fry, in an article for Focus on the Family, suggests some ideas as we consider gift giving and receiving at Christmas time.

Spend more time learning and less time shopping

I’ve been on those shopping trips where I wander through a department store with no prior preparation hoping my eye will land on the right gift for someone. Although it may be a little late now, give some thought to things our spouse has shown an interest in through the year. Consider what your spouse’s hobbies and special interests are. This may not guarantee the perfect gift, but at least your spouse will know you made a sincere effort to please them.

Don’t expect your spouse to read your mind when it comes to receiving. Since there is the expectation of giving and receiving between husband and wife, give a few hints as to things you would appreciate but don’t have. Keep in mind appropriate price ranges. Men in particular have a hard time knowing what their wife might like. (We husbands don’t think like our wives and we often haven’t been paying much attention anyhow.) I always appreciate the not-so-subtle hints. I like to know the general gift category and then I can surprise her with the special personalized selection.

Get on the same budget page

It helps if both husband and wife are in general agreement on how much can be spent on gifts. After all, we have to keep in mind our budget for the rest of the year. We often hear of people who spend so much for Christmas gifts that they are paying for them the rest of the following year –

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It Involves The British Royal Family

Few events have captured the world’s attention like one wedding in 1981. With a global television audience of 750 million in over 70 countries, Princess Diana and Prince Charles had a wedding for the ages and is widely regarded as the most expensive wedding in history.

The “wedding of the century” came with a hefty price tag of $48 million. Adjusted for inflation in December 2020, the ceremony is estimated to have cost $137 million.

Most of the exact wedding expenses were not disclosed, but the dress reportedly cost as much as $150,000 which equates to $429,683. A backup dress was also created in case the garment was exposed to the press. 

In addition, the royal couple ran up the budget with 27 cakes. The couple’s main wedding cake was 5-feet tall and took 14 weeks to complete. A duplicate cake was also made in case of any mishaps. 

The wedding was held at St Paul’s Cathedral in London and was viewed by 2 million people.

One of the wedding’s main expenses was security. As 60,000 people flooded the streets of London to see the carriage procession around 5,000 police were deployed and tasked with crowd control.

Security for the wedding cost the couple $600,000 which equates to $1.7 million. 

Princess Diana Pictured: Princess Diana return to Buckingham Palace by carriage after their wedding, 29th July 1981. She wears a wedding dress by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel and the Spencer family tiara. Photo: Getty Images/Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive

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U.K. becomes first country to approve Pfizer vaccine, Trump discussed pardons for family and ‘the most 2020 wedding’

Good morning, NBC News readers.

The U.K. has become the first country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine, President Donald Trump has discussed the possibility of pardons for his family and one Georgia official has had enough of Republican silence and failure to condemn threats of violence against election workers.

Here is what we’re watching this Wednesday morning.


‘Help is on its way’: U.K. becomes first country to approve Covid vaccine, says rollout begins next week

The U.K. has become the first country to approve the use of the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, and says it will begin rolling it out next week.

“For so long we’ve been saying that if a vaccine is developed, then things will get better in 2021, and now we can say when this vaccine is rolled out things will get better,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said early Wednesday.

The vaccine was found to be 95 percent effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19, the drugmaker said after clinical trials.

The pharmaceutical giant submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration on Nov. 20 for an emergency use authorization in the U.S.

While the first Covid vaccines are still awaiting approval in the U.S., an independent advisory committee within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is already working on the list of who should be first in line once they become available.

Health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities should be the first groups to be offered the vaccine, according to the proposal. Combined, those groups represent around 24 million Americans.

With infections surging — the U.S. is fast approaching 14 million confirmed cases and the virus has killed more than 271,000 in the country — a vaccine can’t come soon enough.

The 911 system in the U.S. is “at a breaking point,” after receiving little Covid aid, ambulance companies say.

Private EMS services collectively received $350 million in Covid-19 relief funds in April, but those companies said that money ran out within weeks.

Now as they face another coronavirus surge, many private EMS services don’t know how they are going to make it.

And hospitals in a slew of states — from Indiana to Minnesota and Texas — are running out of space, overwhelmed by the number of coronavirus patients they have coming in.

Indiana’s Elkhart General Hospital was forced to stop accepting ambulance traffic for a full seven hours one day last week because it was so over-capacity. It was only the second time in 20 years that Elkhart General had to make that call.

“This is exactly why we were adamant about masks and flattening the curve. This is the situation that we wanted to avoid,” said Dr. Michelle Bache, the vice president of medical affairs at the hospital.

Follow our live blog for all the latest Covid-19 developments.


President Donald Trump has been discussing the possibility of issuing pardons for his family members and some close associates, multiple sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The New York

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This Microsoft Office family subscription comes with a $50 gift card

Today only, you can give the gift of productivity with and get yourself something nice, too. Amazon is selling the Microsoft 365 Family subscription to Office for $100 while throwing in a $50 Amazon gift card. The upfront price is the same as always, but the $50 gift card is essentially a rebate unless you use it as a gift for someone else. The sale ends just before midnight Pacific time on Wednesday evening.

Microsoft 365 Family is what the software maker is now calling Office 365. The subscription service allows up to six people to install and use Microsoft Office, and each person can use it on up to five devices each. This Office subscription includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook. PC users can also install Access and Publisher.

In addition to Office, Microsoft 365 Family also gives each person 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage, Skype calling minutes every month, and the Microsoft Family Safety app.

As for the gift card, this is physical plastic card that comes by mail. It has no expiry date and there are no fees. The card may not indicate an amount, but you can check the balance with Amazon using the last 4 digits of the serial number.

This is an excellent deal for the world’s most popular productivity suite, and you’re essentially getting it for half off for the first year.

[Today’s deal: Microsoft 365 Family and a $50 Amazon Gift Card for $100 at Amazon.]

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has never met a tech subject he didn’t like. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, social networks, and browsers. When he’s not covering the news he’s working on how-to tips for PC users, or tuning his eGPU setup.

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NC family raising money to help autistic son get special therapy

Gudelia Santana Ubaldo and her 9-year-old son, Sammy. Sammy has been diagnosed with global developmental delay, autism and mixed language disorders that prevent him from speaking. She is raising money to get him treatment that might help him.

Gudelia Santana Ubaldo and her 9-year-old son, Sammy. Sammy has been diagnosed with global developmental delay, autism and mixed language disorders that prevent him from speaking. She is raising money to get him treatment that might help him.

When Gudelia Santana Ubaldo asks her son to speak, he grabs her hand and gently touches his forehead to hers.

“Dime Sammy, usa tus palabras,” she says, telling Sammy to use his words. He silently leans over the beige leather chair positioned by the window, sun shining across his mother’s face.

He pulls back, shakes his hands and walks toward the end of their mobile home as his mouth begins to form singular vowels: “ah, eh, oo.”

Gudelia knows he wants something, but is not sure what. He probably just misses her company.

Sammy has been diagnosed with global developmental delay, autism and mixed language disorders that prevent him from speaking. He has yet to acquire certain cognitive and social skills standard for his age. But at 9 years old, doctors consider him a walking miracle.

Gudelia was born with an abnormally small and narrow uterus. After 10 years of attempting to conceive with no luck, she almost gave up on having children.

“For me, as a woman it was something very frustrating, not having children,” Gudelia said, her eyes slowly filling with tears as she tracks Sammy’s movements. “I didn’t feel fulfilled as a woman.”

Raising a family was one of the main reasons Gudelia and her husband, Rodrigo, emigrated from Mexico to Siler City years ago. They both found work at a local sock factory and began planning their American dream: a house filled with kids, and within each child, hope for a better future.

Instead, Gudelia found herself unable to get pregnant, and when she finally did, she suffered a painful miscarriage.

A second chance

Emmanuel, the name of the child she lost, is written in black cursive across the pages of a handmade booklet. She gently turns the pages adorned in his memory, white paper stapled together at its spine.

Years after losing Emmanuel, Gudelia became pregnant with Sammy. Doctors warned her that it was unlikely the child would survive, and if he did, he would never be able to walk or speak.

“I told the doctors that I was going to have him no matter what,” Gudelia said. “I didn’t care about the disability. I wanted my son, I wanted children so badly.”

Born at just 25 weeks, Sammy weighed 1 pound, 12 ounces, his body fitting neatly in the palm of her hands. The doctors promised they would do everything in their power to save him, but told Gudelia to prepare for the worst — a state of being she was accustomed to.

For the next three months, Sammy remained in an incubator, each day as uncertain as the next.

“Those three months were some of the hardest and most exhausting months to get through,” Gudelia said. “But, it was all worth

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How to watch a reimagined version of the family film ‘Black Beauty’ on Disney+

Mackenzie Foy and Kate Winslet star in the modern day reimagining of Black Beauty on Disney+ today, Friday, Nov. 27.

Black Beauty, originally an 1877 novel by Anna Sewall, has been reimagined plenty of times in stories and movie adaptations. Disney’s version directed by Ashely Avis does something different: It makes both the main characters female.

Both Jo, the 17-year-old caretaker played by Mackenzie Foy, and Beauty, the horse voice by Kate Winslet, have been through a lot. Beauty was rounded up and taken away from her family, and ended up on John Manly’s farm. Jo will end up there, too, through similar circumstances. Her parents recently passed away and she’s been shipped off to her uncle’s.

Jo and Beauty will bond over their shared sense of loss, and begin to heal alongside each other. The bond they form during their time on Manly’s farm will never be broken, even when Beauty goes through a series of new owners in this story of love, loss, heartbreak, joy, and the extraordinary power of friendship.

Where can I watch Black Beauty?

It’s available on Disney+ ($6.99/month or $69.99/year).

There’s also a Disney+ bundle option available, which includes access to Hulu (with ads) and ESPN+ for just $12.99/month.

What if I’m already a Hulu subscriber and want to add Disney+?

Sign up for Disney+ using the same email that’s associated with your Hulu account, no matter which type of Hulu account it is. You’ll still be charged for the full price for your Hulu account every month, but you will receive a $5.99 credit toward a Disney+ subscription.

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St. Paul takeout: Family style meals

Restaurants need our help, now more than ever.

To that end, we would like to encourage you to order gift cards, merchandise or takeout from your favorites to see them through the next few weeks of in-person dining being shut down.

My family has been getting takeout from local restaurants whenever we can, and I especially love family-style meals that mean I don’t have to take everyone’s orders.

Here are some awesome meals we’ve had lately. I have a whole long list of places offering family-style to try, so expect me to tell you about them as I do.

We will get through this, together. And hopefully, these restaurants will be there on the other side of it.

If you’ve had some great takeout lately, tell us about it (photos are welcome too) by emailing us at [email protected]

Frozen lasagna from Mucci’s in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

Mucci’s

On any given day, if you ask my kids what they want, in their heart of hearts, barring time limits or anything else, their answer will be lasagna. So how awesome is it that Mucci’s has figured out how to package one of their favorite versions of it in frozen form? Buy one to feed the family today and grab another to throw in the freezer next time you don’t have an answer for the question, “What’s for dinner?” It takes over an hour to bake in the oven, but the tender noodles, zippy sauce and tasty meat are nearly as good as when you get it fresh from the restaurant. They also have fresh pasta and sauce and frozen pizzas if you’re looking for a delicious shortcut that’s a little faster.

786 Randolph Ave., St. Paul; 651-330-2245; muccisitalian.com

Urban Growler

Oh, how I love this little brewery, for its delicious beers, but also its earnest, tasty bar food. On a recent night, while perusing menus for family-style options, I happened upon its pandemic-inspired menu, which includes fried chicken, mac and cheese, braised pork and more. Of course, my kids chose lasagna (I told you) and it was really, shockingly good and came with a salad and garlic bread. We also ordered a family-style box of brownies, which were ultra chocolaty and came with caramel whipped cream and caramel sauce, which my dessert-loving teens were really happy about. If you’re in the market for individual meals, their entire menu of sandwiches, tacos, kids meals and appetizers, including some of our favorite nachos in town, is available, too. And of course, don’t forget the beer. You can pick up crowlers of fresh, delicious suds with your order.

2325 Endicott St., St. Paul; 651-340-5793; urbangrowlerbrewing.com

Bennett’s Chop and Railhouse

Family-style meatloaf from Bennett’s Chop and Railhouse in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

This scrappy little West Seventh steakhouse is still plugging along, offering curbside takeout, including some very homestyle family meals. We argued a bit before settling on the meatloaf, which turned out to be a solid choice. Thick

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Opinion | Will White Women in Georgia Put Family or Culture War First?

In the run-up to Election Day, there was a lot of talk about the gender gap and the importance of the women’s vote for Joe Biden’s chances. In some polls, Mr. Biden was leading President Trump by as much as 23 points among likely female voters. The actual gap, according to an early CNN exit poll, may be closer to a far smaller 15 points.

Most of the help that female voters provided to Mr. Biden came from women of color, and especially from Black women. Despite all the talk of suburban women moving toward Mr. Biden, with the clear implication that these suburbanites were white, it was women of color in and around cities like Atlanta and Philadelphia who were most responsible for his victory. A majority of white women voted for Mr. Trump, by an 11-point margin.

True, they didn’t vote for him by as large a margin as did white men, and if college-educated, they tipped toward Mr. Biden. Still, given Mr. Trump’s well-known tendencies to denigrate women and his administration’s failure to structurally improve their communities, this depth of support for him may come as surprising.

Mr. Trump has tried to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, made court appointments that threaten Roe v. Wade, and reduced access to contraception. And he has vacillated on further relief to deal with a pandemic that has had a disproportionate impact on women’s employment and economic well-being.

In 2004, Thomas Frank published his best-selling book “What’s the Matter With Kansas?,” which argued that his fellow Kansans were voting against their economic self-interest because of hot-button cultural issues. Perhaps now we should be asking, “What’s the Matter With White Women?” Are they voting on cultural rather than economic issues? Are many simply following their husbands’ lead? For some, it would seem so.

In contrast to Mr. Trump, the president-elect has a comprehensive agenda to materially improve women’s lives, including paid leave and child care, equal pay, reproductive choice, higher wages and benefits for teachers and care workers, as well as support for the Equal Rights Amendment. Mr. Biden has plans to create a White House Council on Gender Equality and his growing interest in student debt cancellation will greatly benefit women, who by certain estimates hold two-thirds of such debt.

Mr. Biden’s ability to carry out his agenda now depends on what happens in two Senate runoff elections in Georgia in January; the results will determine which party controls the Senate. Black women, once again, may hold the key but they will need white women to join forces with them if the two Democratic candidates, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, are to win.

Why should we care about Georgia? Because Mr. Biden’s ability to address issues that significantly affect women — such as child care, paid leave and reproductive health care — depends on it. And because women are not only half the population but have also become the backbone of the economy over the last few decades.

As new

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‘Uncle Frank’ serves indie cliches family style



Sophia Lillis, Paul Bettany are posing for a picture: (L-R) Sophia Lillis and Paul Bettany star in UNCLE FRANK Photo: Brownie Harris Courtesy of Amazon Studios


© Provided by Boston Herald
(L-R) Sophia Lillis and Paul Bettany star in UNCLE FRANK Photo: Brownie Harris Courtesy of Amazon Studios

MOVIE REVIEW

“UNCLE FRANK”

Rated R. On Amazon.

Grade: C+

As “Uncle Frank,” a litany of indie film cliches, opens, you might think it’s another indie coming-of-age story. Guess again. It’s really an indie coming-out to your South Carolina Christian family movie. Beginning in 1969, when the film’s South Carolina born-and-raised narrator Betty Bledsoe (Sophia Lillis) is 14 years old, she is told by her “sophisticated” Uncle Frank (Paul Bettany), who is a literature professor at New York University  that she is at that point in life when she can choose who she wants to be. If she “aces her SATs,” he tells her, she can attend any college in the country, and four years later, newly anointed “Beth” Bledsoe leaves humid, leafy, conservative South Carolina to go to NYU.

You’d think this would be the start of a story about how Betty became Beth, loses her virginity and becomes a physicist or something, right? Well, no. What happens instead is that Beth discovers something that most of us assumed from the beginning, i.e., that 40-something singleton Uncle Frank is gay and (something we did not guess) that he has a live-in lover named Wally aka Walid (Lebanon-born Peter Macdissi), who is from Saudi Arabia, and that Wally — in addition to being Uncle Frank’s wife — is also Muslim. Wally also has a pet iguana he has named Barbara Stanwyck. In case the film’s second thematic approach doesn’t grab you, Frank gets a call from his hysterical mother, Mammaw (Margo Martindale), telling him that his father, Daddy Mac (Stephen Root), who constantly belittled him, is daaaay-yed.



a man and a woman sitting in a car: SOPHIA LILLIS, PAUL BETTANY and PETER MACDISSI star in UNCLE FRANK


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SOPHIA LILLIS, PAUL BETTANY and PETER MACDISSI star in UNCLE FRANK

This generates yet another film genre, the road trip movie, since Beth has promised her mother, Kitty (a wasted Judy Greer), never to step foot in one of those flying machines. On the way, Beth asks Frank a lot of questions about being gay, which he asks her to keep down, since we are in the 1973-era South. Frank also mentally relives the day his outraged father caught him in flagrante delecto with a boy from school. In the flashback, Daddy Mac informs young Frank that God will “cast him into the Lake of Fire” for his sins. Frank, Beth and the unwanted Wally arrive in Creekville just in time for the big Southern family funeral, complete with an irregular, but dramatically necessary reading of Daddy Mac’s will, which has a surprise footnote for the whole family to hear. On the whole, I’d rather be watching “Death at a Funeral,” again, instead.

Written and directed by Atlanta-born Alan Ball of “Six Feet Under” fame, “Uncle Frank” has plenty of histrionics and zero surprises. As if on cue, Frank, a recovered alcoholic, falls off the wagon. I expected them to use an actual wagon for

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