Before you put up your Christmas tree ...

For Live Trees:

Hose off the tree to remove pollen and mold and let it dry before you bring it inside.

Wear gloves and long sleeves when carrying the tree to avoid sap touching your skin.

Wipe down the trunk of the tree with a solution of one part bleach, 20 parts lukewarm water.

For Artificial Trees:

Wrap the tree securely, store in a cool and dry place.

Wipe down the tree and ornaments before setting up.

Reduce the amount of spray snow to frost your tree and windows. Aerosolized chemicals can cause irritant reactions in the eyes, nose or lungs.

Dust off the decorations:

They’ve been stored away for 11 months in garages, basements or attics, which are known hangouts for mold and dust mites, and carrying many allergens.

Wipe those decorations off thoroughly with a damp cloth when you take them out of storage.

After the holidays, pack decorations in plastic bags or bins, not cardboard. Cardboard is notorious for collecting dust and promoting mold growth.

Stop the scented sprays and flocking.

Creating ambiance from a can could lead to irritated noses and throats, exacerbating respiratory issues.

Hate all you want: But you’ll miss the real stories

I am one of those persons who likes to read little “heart-string pulling” stories.

You know, a guy helps a homeless man tie his shoes and the homeless man ends up being a multi-gazillionaire and buys the guy a new car so he doesn’t have to walk to work (something like 27 miles from his family’s farm where his father is suffering from nose warts and his mother has chronic gas) to earn the money he’s saving up to go to college to be a veterinarian specializing in Himalayan yaks with hoof fungus disease and bladder-control issues.

Because those things have a direct impact on global warming.

It’s kind of a specialists’ specialty.

I also like reading about a kid who offers to wax a guy’s car so he can earn bus money so that he can get back and forth to school to become a doctor.

The guy who owns the car is so moved — not to mention he is a brain surgeon from a similar disadvantaged upbringing — he makes the kid an honorary brain surgeon and the kid winds up saving seven guppies from the fish tank in the hospital’s doctor’s lounge from some strange brain disease.

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Your best Christmas gift?

The average American will spend $920 on Christmas gifts this year, reaching a total of more than $1 trillion in holiday spending.

Eight percent said they would spend nothing, and 3 percent said they were unsure.

Twenty-nine percent expected their gift spending to be between $100 and $499 according to stats from Investopedia.

In 2001, the average American planned to spend $1,052 — the highest ever.

Following the financial crash in 2008, planned holiday shopping dropped to $417 in 2009— less than half of what people planned to spend in 2018, according to the National Retail Federation. Americans have been spending more on holiday gifts every year since 2008 (except 2012); although the holiday spending is still not back on the pre-recession trend, it seems to be headed in that direction — possibly thanks to lower unemployment, stronger growth, and higher confidence in the economy.

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