December 2019

So It’s Gift-Giving Time Again: You Shouldn’t Have. REALLY! 
With the gift season in full swing, there’s something we need to recognize: The holidays have become less about thoughtful giving and more about senseless shopping.

Need proof? Why not make a list of all those gifts that are still taking up space in your closet, or those that have been re-gifted or sold at your latest garage sale? And while you’re at it, consider how many of your gifts to others may have met the same fate.

This year, instead of accepting and giving unwanted gifts, why not try something radically different? Step away from obsessive gifting, find out what others really want, and let them know what you want, too.

Houzz contributor Laura Gaskill, writes a compelling article on paring down “stuff.” One way to do this is especially relevant to the holiday gift-giving season: Politely discourage gifting for the sake of gifting.

Share your goals with others. If, for example, you’re saving for horse-riding lessons, a vacation, or a first home, be honest and admit you’d really appreciate a contribution towards this rather than another unwanted gift. Gaskill writes, “When they (gift-givers) know more about the goals you are striving for and how important they are to you, they are far more likely to keep them in mind when choosing gifts for you.”

Do the same for others: Ask them about their goals and gift thoughtfully by honoring these goals. This way, “Really, you shouldn’t have,” becomes, “Thank you – that really means a lot to me.” 
Happy New Year! It’s Time to Review Your Insurance Coverage 
Exercise more. Eat better. Learn something new. It must be New Year’s resolution time again. As 2020 approaches, it’s a good opportunity to make New Year’s insurance resolutions by reviewing your coverage and deciding if changes are needed. As you examine your policies, consider making these resolutions for next year:

Update home inventory: Is your home inventory up to date? What have you sold, donated, or pitched in the past year? What devices will the family splurge on this Christmas? An up-to-date home inventory is essential to make the most of your coverage in case of theft or disaster. Include all items and their cost. Store this list off-site or in the cloud.

Assess car policies: Does your vehicle coverage accurately reflect your car’s value? As autos age, you may want to reduce coverage by eliminating physical damage (comp and collision). Is your liability protection adequate to protect your net worth and future streams of income?  Who drives the car? Are primary and occasional drivers designated properly? 

Check for savings: Are you currently taking advantage of every savings opportunity? A call to your agent will be worthwhile. Check for new programs, multiline discounts, and changes in policy requirements; they may save you a few bucks in the coming year.

Life changes: Be sure to discuss with your agent any life changes, such as marriage, divorce, death, or births as well as home purchases, renovations, job changes, and health concerns. These can impact your insurance needs and may affect everything from your homeowner and life insurance policies to health insurance. You may even need commercial insurance if you’re starting your own company in the new year.

Worth Quoting

This month, some famous quotes on the topic of gifts:

Each day provides its own gifts.

Marcus Aurelius

One of the greatest gifts my father gave me – unintentionally – was witnessing the courage with which he bore adversity.

Ben Okri

Try not to get lost in comparing yourself to others. Discover your gifts and let them shine!

Jennie Finch

You have a good many little gifts and virtues, but there is no need of parading them, for conceit spoils the finest genius.

Louisa May Alcott

Technology... is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.

Carrie Snow 

Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift.  That’s why they call it the present.

Bil Keane   

Easy Corn Chowder

There's nothing like a bowl of hearty, nourishing soup to fill hungry tummies. This delicious, wholesome chowder will satisfy the adults at your table and even get the kids to scarf down their vegetables  

Serves 6 to 8 

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 or 3 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, coarsely chopped 
  • 1/2 cup carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 15-ounce cans cream-style corn
  • 2 cups half and half
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Paprika and parsley to garnish (optional)


Sauté the potatoes, onion, celery, and carrots in butter for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken broth and creamed corn. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, warm the half and half in a saucepan until bubbly but not boiling. Blend it into the chowder just before serving.

Dust the chowder with paprika and garnish with a sprig of parsley for a festive look. Serve with breadsticks and a salad for a quick, easy, crowd-pleasing meal.

Quick Quiz

Each month I'll give you a new question.

Just send us an email and submit your answer.

The first VCR, which was made in 1956, was the size of what musical instrument?

First 10 responders will be entered into drawing for 3 Starbuck's gift cards.

Last month's winners were:
Tanne JacoboSteve FoleySergio Avalos

Roam or Home Get Your Holiday Spirit On  
For the holidays – or for that awful letdown period after – there are places designed to instill holiday spirit in the scroogiest of us. Consider these:

Zurich, Switzerland. The city of Zurich, Switzerland, is a Christmas-lover’s dream. Holiday markets are plentiful, and candles are set afloat on the Limmat River. Even Scrooge would find the mood magical.

New York, U.S. If you’ve seen the holiday movies, you’ll know that December in NYC is something to be seen. Marvel at the giant tree in Rockefeller Square, ice skate in Central Park, or lose yourself in Macy’s Santaland.

Quebec City, Canada. Narrow cobblestone streets lit by twinkly lights, incredible restaurants, and no shortage of snow make Québec City a romantic place to spend the holidays.

Aix-en-Provence, France. The region’s mild temperatures, with an average high of 54°F (12°C) in December, make it perfect for exploring its historic architecture and beloved annual Christmas market along Cours Mirabeau.

Sámara, Costa Rica. If your goal is to escape the cold, Costa Rica should be on your shortlist of warm weather options. Sámara, a beach town in the Guanacaste province, boasts a pristine beach, surfing, kayaking, sport fishing, and cozy beach bungalows with not a snowflake in sight.

Home. As the song goes: “There’s no place like home for the holidays.” If a trip away isn’t in the cards, make the most of time at home. Check My List on Netflix, whip up some comfort food, and get cozy with friends and family.

The Christmas/Holiday Season really is the best time of year!  Whatever your religious beliefs, it is a time to celebrate with family, friends, and loved ones.  All of us here at our agency want to take this opportunity to thank you for your friendship and loyalty.  You are the reason for any of our success and we sincerely appreciate you.  And most of all we want to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and happy and prosperous New Year!