O Tannenbaum, How Lovely Are Your Branches

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

In NJ and around the world, cutting down a Christmas tree has become a family tradition.  On a crisp December day, Mom and Dad bundle up the kids, pile into the car, and head out to a tree farm.  Hack saw in hand, they trek through the fields and over the hills inspecting, rejecting, and finally, finding the perfect tree.  Alternatively, the family stops at a nearby lot and selects a pre-cut tree.  Wherever the tree is purchased, it has to be brought home.  That’s when the trouble starts.

While this stately tree may fit perfectly in front of your picture window, it may be a bit oversized for your car.  How do you transport your Tannenbaum safely from field to foyer?

The folks at www.cars.com asked the experts at the National Christmas Tree Association for some tips on transporting your tree.

  • Get your Christmas tree netted before leaving the lot to make it more manageable. If it’s going on the roof, the trunk should be facing front.
  • Make sure to select a tree that will either fit inside your cargo area or on top of your roof. A roof rack is a good idea.
  • Have enough rope or cord to wrap around the tree and secure it to the roof rack or to cargo hooks.
  • Protect the cargo area or roof with a tarp or blanket.
  • Before leaving the lot, give the tree a good tug to make sure it’s secure.
  • Drive slowly and avoid the highway. Heavy objects affect your vehicle’s center of gravity and consequently emergency handling.

The NJ State Police emphasize that improperly secured trees can cause the tree to slide down the windshield and obstructing the driver’s view or falling off the roof and strike another vehicle.  They suggest planning ahead and arrive in a vehicle to support the size of tree you select.

Whether your holiday plans call for “rockin’ around the Christmas tree,” or sitting in quiet contemplation, make sure you and your tree arrive home safely.

“Waes Hael” and Be Safe

carolingLike many traditions, caroling harkens back to olden times.  On Twelfth Night, people in the apple growing regions of southern and western England gathered in orchards for wassailing. Because wages were often paid in apple cider, a bountiful harvest was necessary for the livelihood of the landowner and laborers.  Dancing and singing traditional songs, the people paraded through the orchards pouring apple cider on the trees and settling cider soaked bread on branches to chase away evil spirits.  They toasted the apple trees with a hearty “waes hael” (good health.)

Today, families and friends keep the tradition alive with a night of caroling.  Like the ancients, they walk through neighborhoods singing favorite carols and perhaps stopping for food and drink.

Unlike the ancients, carolers today may be walking on cold nights and icy sidewalks.  Keep these winter walking tips in mind.

  • Bundle up in coats, hats, gloves, and scarves.
  • Wear sensible, warm, waterproof boots for snowy or very cold nights.
  • Dress in layers.
  • Stay hydrated.  Carry a thermos with water or hot cocoa.
  • Carry a battery operated lantern or a flashlight to light the walk and to be seen by drivers. Be visible.

Have a great time!

Be Social for the Holidays with KMM

week1overtheriverBe Social for the Holidays  by snapping a picture and sharing it with KMM.  Each week, KMM will post a theme and encourage everyone to capture a picture that embodies the theme.  And because it is the jolliest season of all, each week’s theme pertains to the Holiday Season.

This week’s theme is: Over the river and through the woods to…

It’s easy to participate.  Take a picture using the selected theme and share it on either Google +  Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and make sure to tag your photo ‪#‎kmmwintercommuter‬.

A winning photo will be selected each week and receive a $5 gift card to Dunkin Donuts. All entries this week must be submitted by Friday at 4pm and a winner will be announced each Monday at 11am on KMM’s Facebook page.

Good Luck & Happy Holidays!

Dreaming of a Mall Holiday?

Photo Credit: USA Today

Photo Credit: USA Today

Ah the holidays, “the most wonderful time of the year.”  You’ve made your list.  You’ve checked it twice.  Sure, you’ve ordered some gifts online but it just not the same as shopping at a brick and mortar store.  You love the carols and decorated windows.  You enjoy sharing smiles and warm greetings with other shoppers, indulging in a hot cocoa and cookie, and carrying festive bags to your car.  So, you’re off to the mall.

That’s when the dream begins to unravel.  Before you can hear the jingle bells, see the glittery displays, and drink your hot cocoa, you have to park your car.  Can there be a worse place than a retail parking lot in December?

It’s mayhem from the moment you enter the lot until the moment you leave.  AAA Mid-Atlantic offers some great tips for navigating the mall parking lot:

Play the outfield.  Everyone wants a space near the door and many will fight for the right to park upfront.  Head to the back of the lot.  Usually, the outlying area has more open spaces, lighter traffic, and a lower risk of collision.  But, remote spaces may be less secure, so be mindful of the risks particularly returning to your car at night.  If you’re shopping alone and have a number of packages, ask a mall security guard to accompany you to your car.

See and be seen.  Use your headlights when searching for a space in a parking garage. Avoid parking between a pair of SUVs or minivans as it might be hard to back out of the space.

Remember where you’ve parked.   Choose a well-lit area to park during early morning hours and at night.  Pay attention to where you’ve parked, noting signs and markers.  Take a picture with your smartphone.  When returning to your car, have your keys in hand and check the car’s interior before entering the vehicle.  Use a penlight at night.

Stay on track and be alert.  When behind the wheel always watch for pedestrians, especially small children.  Pedestrians should use walkways and crosswalks, if available.  If pedestrians must walk in traffic lanes, they should watch for exhaust or reverse lights – a sure sign that the vehicle is about to pull out.

Put it down.  Mobile devices distract pedestrians and can lead to unfortunate encounters with vehicles, other pedestrians, or even thieves.  Drivers, too, should stow the mobile device and pay attention to the activity around them.

Use the trunk.  It takes a thief only a few seconds to smash a car window.  Lock you purchases in the trunk, away from prying eyes.

Take transit.  Check out the bus schedules on njtransit.com.  NJ Transit is offering extended service on many popular bus routes to major malls until December 27.

If your holiday experience includes a trip to the mall, be bright, be merry, and be safe.