One of the delights of the holiday season is receiving personalized greeting cards from family and friends, especially those who are far away or from whom you haven’t heard from in a while.
There’s no need for them to include a long letter explaining everything they’ve been up to for the past 12 months (though a few will include this). A few hand-written words or even just the printed message inside will do. The fact that they’ve taken the time to send you a beautiful card with a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Chanukah, Happy New Year, or similar thought is all that needs to be said.
For this reason, holiday cards are one of the few types of correspondence we purposely set out on display during this time of year.
They are, however, a relatively recent invention, created by a man who was feeling somewhat overwhelmed by his social network.
The Knight Who Invented The Christmas Card
Sir Henry Cole was a prominent educator and philanthropist in early Victorian England. The founder of the famous Victoria and Albert museum, he moved in the highest social circles and therefore kept up a voluminous correspondence.
Around the holidays in 1843 Cole was facing a pile of unanswered Christmas letters. To not send a reply would have been considered the height of rudeness. Yet he simply did not have time to sit down and handwrite a response to each one.
Then he had an idea.
Part of Cole’s clever solution came from a change in the mail system. A few months earlier the British Postal Service had introduced the “Penny Post.” Putting a one penny stamp on any postcard or letter would ensure its delivery anywhere in the country.
So Cole commissioned artist J.C. Horsley to design a simple card to send to his friends (shown at the top of this newsletter). It featured a three part Christmas scene, a place for Cole to handwrite the “To” and “From,” and the wish of “A Merry Christmas And Happy New Year.”
The cards went out. Cole’s recipients thought it was a great idea. And the modern Christmas card was born.
Within a few decades his Christmas greeting idea caught on in the U.S. And today, according to Time, Americans send out 1.6 billion holiday cards each year, generating about $2 billion in sales.
Remembering Cole’s Original Vision
The illustration on Cole’s card features a center image of an extended family enjoying a holiday feast. But on either side of them are depictions of feeding and clothing the poor.
The idea that acts of charity were as much a part of Christmas as the family celebration was strong in the mid-1800s. (Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol also appeared in 1843.) But in our era it’s in danger of being entirely elbowed out of the way by the commercial frenzy that’s become the focus of the season.
We’re wishing you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas!
Golf Tip of the Week
Improve Your Downswing Sequencing With This Two-Step Exercise
Does the start of the downswing jam you up? It’s a tricky move—getting your lower body to initiate the action, while your upper body waits to start its rotation through the ball. Moving your lower body independently of your your upper body probably isn’t something that comes naturally. If you want to improve this motion in your swing, Carolina Romero, one of Golf Digest’s 50 Best Golf-Fitness Trainers in America, says to try this two-part exercise.
The Half-Kneeling Thoracic Rotation to Side bend
Get into a half-kneeling stance with your lead leg up and bent at a 90-degree angle.
Put your hands behind your head, engage your core, and rotate your torso toward the forward leg. Next, bend your upper body toward the ground. Throughout this movement, your lower body should remain still.
Romero says to do one set of 10 on each side.
“This is a good exercise to work on your upper body/lower body dissociation, which is super important for a good golf-swing sequence,” Romero says. “You want to be able to initiate the downswing with the hips but in order for you to do that, you need to be able to move your upper and lower body separately.”The upper-body motion in this exercise requires you to rotate around your thoracic spine (mid back). This is key for improving consistency and building power in the golf swing.
“If your thoracic mobility is good, you’re going to be able to get a really deep shoulder turn and rotate well and stay in posture as opposed to having to compensate with golf swing mistakes in order to get the club back,” Romero says.
As you do this exercise, know that you’re training your body to copy a move that really good players make through the impact zone.
“If you look at great players when they’re hitting the ball, they’re actually side bending completely right before they make contact,” Romero says. “Here, we’re mimicking that motion and teaching the body to get into that position.”
By training your body to get into these positions off the course, you’ll make it a lot easier for your body to make these key moves during the golf swing. With proper downswing sequencing, your ball-striking will be more consistent and you might just find the extra yards you’ve been looking for.
Tip adapted from golfdigest.comi
Recipe of the Week
Snowman Personal Pizzas
4 Personal Pizzas
- 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (about 1 ounce)
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus 4 whole sprigs
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) torn fresh mozzarella
- 1 jarred roasted orange pepper or orange peppadew
- 40 slices pitted black olives (10 slices per pizza), about 1/3 cup
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F and preheat a pizza stone or inverted baking sheet.
- In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, Parmesan, chopped rosemary, red pepper flakes and garlic; season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and set aside.
- Divide the pizza dough into 4 equal rounds (each round should be 4 ounces and about 3-inches in diameter). Divide each round into 2 circles, one 2-inches wide (for the body) and the other 1-inch wide (for the head). On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll each ball of dough out to 1/4-inch thick. (If a ball of dough becomes too stiff while rolling, cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to rest while working on the other balls of dough. After 4 or 5 minutes it will become more flexible, stretchier and easier to roll.)
- Line two baking sheets with parchment. Place two large circles of dough on each piece of parchment, and overlap each large circle with a smaller circle of dough to form heads. Brush the dough with the olive oil and pierce the dough with a fork to prevent bubbles from forming, then bake until the crust begins to brown and is almost completely cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove the pizzas from the oven and spread the ricotta mixture on top of the snowmen leaving a 1/4-inch border, then top with the torn mozzarella. Cut the orange pepper into four elongated triangles (about 2-inches long) to form noses; place each on a snowman face. Use 2 olive slices on each face for eyes, 5 olive slices for a smile and 3 olive slices for buttons.
- Slide a pizza onto the hot stone or baking sheet and continue baking until the cheese has just melted, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board; place a sprig of rosemary by each snowman’s right hand to form a broom. Repeat with the remaining snowmen. Serve while hot.
Recipe adapted from Foodnetwork.comii
Health Tip of the Week
Signs It Could Be More Than a Cold
Symptoms Come On Fast
When you have a cold, symptoms like a stuffy nose or sneezing start slowly and gradually get worse. Flu symptoms typically hit your body all of a sudden — and they’ll probably feel a lot stronger.
This is when you shiver because your body temperature changes. Chills aren’t typical signs of a cold — they’re an early sign of infection and high fever. They’re more common with flu, pneumonia, or COVID-19.
Increase in Temperature
This is a sign that your body is trying to fight an illness or infection, but it’s rarely caused by a cold. Flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, and COVID-19 are more common causes of fevers. You are considered to have a fever when your temperature reaches 100.5 F.
You may have some slight body aches with a cold, but stronger ones are usually a sign that you have the flu or COVID-19. This is because short-term achy muscles often happen along with a fever.
This is when your breathing sounds like a whistle. If you wheeze, it’s a sign of a more serious infection like pneumonia or bronchitis, especially if it happens when you lie down. Wheezing also can be a sign of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction to something you ate or an insect bite.
Cough With Mucus
You may have a mild, pesky cough from a cold, but if you cough up mucus — slimy stuff from deep down in your chest — it can be a sign of bronchitis or pneumonia, especially if there’s blood in it. COVID-19 usually causes you to have a dry cough, but it can sometimes also make you cough up mucus. It’s possible to cough up blood with COVID-19, but this is rare.
Feeling like you have no energy or appetite is a typical symptom of the flu — it’s less often caused by a cold. It can also be a sign of COVID-19, pneumonia or a sinus infection, which is common but more serious than a cold.
A mild one is a typical symptom of a cold and sometimes the flu. It should clear up once your cold or flu does. But a very painful sore throat that comes on quickly can be a sign of strep throat. That’s a bacterial infection that should be treated with antibiotics. A sore throat is also common with COVID-19.
Many things can cause this, but a cold isn’t usually one of them. It’s a common flu and COVID-19 symptom and can be a sign of a sinus infection. But painful sinuses, the spaces above and around your nose, can also be caused by hay fever or rhinitis.
Chest Tightness or Pain
This is a telltale symptom of a more serious respiratory infection, like bronchitis. That can also make your chest feel tight, and you may have a hard time taking a deep breath. Sharp chest pain that feels worse when you cough can be a sign of pneumonia, and chest tightness is also a common symptom of asthma. Get medical help right away for any chest pain or pressure. It can also be the sign of life threatening conditions such as a heart attack or a blood clot in the lung.
Shortness of Breath
Colds can cause a very stuffy nose, which make breathing a little harder, but real shortness of breath is a sign of something more serious. It’s a common symptom of asthma or a flare-up of COPD, and it also can be from a serious infection, like bronchitis, pneumonia, or COVID-19.
Ear, Face, or Eye Pressure
If you feel pressure in your ears, it may mean you have a sinus infection. That also causes pain and pressure around your eyes, cheeks, or forehead that gets worse when you bend over. And if you feel fullness in one ear, it may be a symptom of an ear infection.
Symptoms That Don’t Go Away
Flu symptoms may be bad, but they usually get better within a few days. A cold can last up to 10 days. But pneumonia symptoms can stick around up to a month or longer. And those from COVID-19 or bronchitis can last several months in some cases. Call your doctor right away for any new or worsening symptom so that the right diagnosis can be made and you can get the right treatment.
Tip adapted from WebMD.comiii
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