Monthly Archives: December 2015

Nostradamus

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference DepartmentNostradamus_1846

Michael de Nostradame (Nostradamus) was born on December 15, 1503 in the south of France. His family bout and sold grain, and was originally Jewish (several generations before his birth, the family converted to Catholicism and changed the name to Nostradamus).  At the age of 15, in 1518, he became a student at the University of Avignon.  Yet only a year after he came, the plague came to the city and the school closed to keep the disease far away. This was not the only time that Nostradamus would come close to the plague.

Since he was interested in medicine, he traveled the French country-side collecting folk remedies and helping sick people. This became a problem for him later, though. After over seven years of traveling and healing, he went back to school to get a doctorate in medicine. He was quickly expelled after the faculty found out he had practiced “folk medicine.” When he was twenty-eight, he was invited to the Aquitaine area by a scholar and physician. While there he married, and had two children, all of whom died, most likely from the plague. He continued traveling after the death of his family through France, and (probably) Italy. In 1545, he helped a physician fight off a plague outbreak in Marseille, and then again in Provence, close to his home area. In 1547 he married a rich widow, and had another family of six children.  He he died from complications of gout in 1566.

His Books

Nostradamus’s books also reflected his medical interests. He translated a book by the famous Roman physician Galen, and wrote a medical cookbook with recipes for medicinal treatments, including the plague, which he is considered to have been somewhat successful at treating. It also included how to make various kinds of cosmetics.

However, during this time period, everyone was writing almanacs, at least many literate Renaissance men were (this continued up through Benjamin Franklin’s time. And yes, Franklin wrote an almanac too.) So in 1550, Nostradamus joined the trend and wrote an almanac for the year.  Once he realized how successful the almanac could be, he decided to write one a year (even though he often published more than one a year). He published them annually from 1550 until his death. In all, we know he wrote at least eleven almanacs—at least that’s all we know about, that still exist. These annual books contained over 6,000 prophecies. Is it any wonder he started getting requests for horoscopes from prominent people near and far?   His greatest and best seller, The Prophecies, was the compiled collection of his major predictions.

The PropheciesNostradamus_Centurie_1557

He wrote his greatest and best seller, The Prophecies, as a book of quatrains—poems with four lines. Each quatrain was a prophecy for a future time, but they were not in chronological order.  He often wrote in prophetic code; sometimes using mixed words from other languages, puns, word games and more. He must have worried about threats from the church, but he was never charged or arrested by the Inquisition for his writings. According to the work’s preface, a letter from Nostradamus to his son Cesar (a child from his second marriage), the verses were intended to be mystifying; plus he wanted return customers!

They were published over a period of three years by his secretary, who oversaw the entire collection’s publication in 1568. Nostradamus’ major work of prophecies is often referred to as “The Centuries.” It was published in installments and consisted of about a thousand quatrains , collected in groups of a hundred , which gave the title its other name. The Centuries refers to the organizing structure of the work, not to periods of time. Nostradamus said he was able to predict the future through a combination of astrological study and divine inspiration. He was well-known for his astrological charts and was popular with both nobles and royalty. He said that sometimes an angelic spirit helped him figure out the charts and influences. He sought out inspiration through various forms of meditation, usually focusing in on fire or water. He claimed he could see and understand events in the near and distant future. Most quatrains refer to deaths, wars or natural disasters, events that are sure to occur again and again. This is a lot like modern horoscopes. Horoscopes typically detail things a wide range of people experience regularly, such as “conflicts at work,” “happiness in relationships” or “exciting new changes.” Chances are, these predictions will line up with your life, at least some of the time.

 

Interesting facts:

  1. The house where he grew up still exists, and has a plaque next to it indicating that this house is where the seer Nostradamus was born.
  2. The document about his being expelled from the University of Montpellier still exists, archived in the school’s library.
  3. He was buried in the local Franciscan chapel in Salon (legend says he was standing up!), which is now part of a restaurant. He was re-interred during the French Revolution in the Saint-Laurent Church, where his tomb remains to this day.

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Remember, Remember, Picture Books in November (or December)

By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department

So, yeah. November is (WAS! says that shrill, nagging voice in my head that is remarkably similar to that of Howard’s mother from Big Bang Theory) National Picture Book Month. Having the great good fortune to be employed in the Children’s Department at WCPL, in addition to being the mom to two awesome kids, to whom and with whom I got to read thousands of picture books over the span of more than a decade and a half, gives me a pretty broad perspective on the genre. However, in the spirit of the holiday season, I have decided to give my colleagues the opportunity to share their feast of favorites with y’all. (Please note: This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I haven’t been able to put together a coherent sentence for the past month; it’s just me being generous and inclusive, I swear.) Hence, I posed the following query to a random sampling of some of my esteemed library co-workers: What is your favorite children’s book or picture book?

  • Julie Duke, Children’s Department Manager, WCPL: Pigs Aplenty, Pigs Galore by David McPhail is Julie’s favorite, because “Who doesn’t love a houseful of pigs gone hog wild?” The book is written in rollicking rhyme form and features fun, whimsical illustrations.

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  • Shifay Cheung, Circulation: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. “I love this book because it mentions food, and all those fun shapes and cutouts are just brilliant. I also love Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss because I love the rhyme and it of course mentions food.” I’m seeing a pattern emerging here, Shifay . . .

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  • Erin Holt, Teen Librarian: Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood. “I love owls, and this is such a sweet story about a curious little owl who stays awake one day when he should be sleeping instead, so that he can see how things work during the daytime.”

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  • Marcia Fraser, Special Collections: anything by Tomie dePaola. “Who can resist any of Tomie dePaola’s books? They were loved by my children and were definitely our favorites for reading aloud, as they were written to be told in the oral tradition. Strega Nona, Clown of God, Bill and Pete, Fin M’Coul are just a few of the standouts in the dePaola anthology. His books seem to hark back to the old world and are often written like folktales, with beautifully selected words to carry the story, stunning illustrations so rich in detail and color, and always a delicately disguised lesson or moral. DePaola’s books are classics in the world of Children’s literature, and rightly so.”

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  • Liz Arrambide, Children’s Librarian: Irene’s Wish by Jerdine Nolen. “Irene, like many children, wants more time with her dad, who is a hard-working and talented gardener. His job keeps him so busy that he doesn’t have a lot of time with the family. Irene knows that wishes can come true, so she wishes very hard and her wish does come true! However, as it sometimes is in the case of wishing, things are just a bit different than she expected.”

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  • Dolores Greenwald, Director, WCPL: “ My favorite children’s book is Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. Not only is fun and entertaining, but it teaches a lesson about not being closed-minded and critical. It is a great lesson and Dr. Seuss delivers it perfectly.”

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  • Jessica Dunkel, Reference: “My favorite picture book is This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen.  It’s an underwater tale that follows a small fish who steals a bigger fish’s hat.  It’s a simple, funny story with cute fish characters, a great ending, and an even better message!”

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As for me, asking me to pick my favorite children’s picture book is like asking me to choose my favorite child. But I can narrow it down to two, for today (interestingly, also like picking my favorite child.) The first of these is Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. With very limited resources (a purple crayon that never loses its sharpness, no matter how much he uses it), Harold creates a magnificent dreamscape full of beauty and excitement, and is able to keep his wits about him when faced with a situation such as too much delicious leftover pie from a picnic (“all nine kinds of pie that Harold liked best”) which necessitates the creation of a very hungry moose and a deserving porcupine to finish it up.

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My other favorite is Maurice Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are. Who among us hasn’t daydreamed about sailing away and becoming the King (or Queen!) of all wild things? This book inspired me from the first time I read it as a child, continued to do so into my 20s (the door to my room in my college sorority house during my senior year was adorned with replicas of Max’s wild friends, and a warning that there might be wild things lurking within), and then became one of my children’s favorites. Snobby bookworm disclaimer: I don’t like the movie adaptation very much. Hearing the late James Gandolfini’s voice makes me happy and sad at the same time.

Where_The_Wild_Things_Are_(book)_cover

So there you have it. Our randomly assorted, in no particular order, today’s favorite but maybe not tomorrow’s, list of favorite picture books. I hope we have inspired you to come to the library and check out an armful. Also, this would be a most serendipitous time to mention that we have increased the checkout limit to 30 items per card! Come visit us soon and help us “Make It A Million,” i.e., one million items circulated this fiscal year. Take care, dear readers—


The opinions expressed here are those of the author and the coworkers she shamelessly glommed on to for help in completing her assignment. Also, just because I don’t like the film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are doesn’t mean that you can’t.

Anti-Santa: The Krampus

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department

Krampus is a new movie coming out in December that’s rated PG-13; the story is based on the Germanic legend of Krampus. It could be scary for the little ones. Read below and you’ll see why. And if you’re wondering what is a Krampus? It’s not a what; it’s a who.krampus_by_give_dreams_wings-d5oumri

Gruss_vom_KrampusKrampus, a kind of bogeyman, is most often found in Germanic and Austrian legends and is a terrifying companion of St. Nicholas, usually seen as a black or dark figure with horns, (and often a very long tongue) shadowing the good Santa Claus. He walks behind Saint Nicholas on St. Nicholas Day Eve (December 6) and leaves ashes or sticks for the naughty children, while St. Nicholas leaves sweets or fruit for the good little girls and boys. Krampus is the one who punishes the bad children, those who misbehave or are mean to others. He carries a large sack with him, and legend has it that he carried bad girls and boys (those on the naughty list) away to store in a tall tree for eating later.   You wouldn’t want to be on this naughty list! In some towns, not too long ago, he followed Saint Nicholas from town to town and quizzed children on their deeds, whether they were good of bad that year, whether they did well in school and their chores.

Some think that the word Krampus comes from the Germanic word for talon, similar to crampon, the device climbers use when climbing icy mountains.   Some folklorists say that Krampus is the god of the witches, brought low to serve Saint Nicholas. Others say he is a pagan god, greatly diminished. Perhaps this is why Krampus celebrations were banned by the Catholic Church for centuries. He is similar to the horned god the witches in colonial New England were accused often of consorting with!

Nikolaus_und_KrampusHe is mostly known in Europe, Austria and Germany, and is popular in Christmas parades in those countries. In Holland, he’s known as Black Peter, or Zwarte Piet. In Germany, he’s known as Knecht Ruprecht and in some parts of Germany, Hans Trapp. When the Pennsylvania Dutch came to America, they brought the name Fur Nicholas (Pelz Nicholas) with them. This name became Belsnickel down through the years. Also, in Philadelphia, there is still a Mummer’s parade on New Year’s Day, often with people in Krampus costumes. In Austria, sweets made out of dates and nuts are made to look like Krampus are sold in markets. At one time, people could send Christmas cards with Krampus on them. Who’s to say they won’t make a reappearance? In Ypsilanti, they put on a Krampus Ball. People can come in costume and dance. One of the organizers has called it “Halloween for Adults,” even though it’s a Christmas party.

Many families brought the legend of Krampus with them when they came to the United States. Perhaps Brom was from one of those families? The legend of Krampus became more widely known in the United States from the book Krampus the Yule Lord by the author and artist Brom. The cover of his book is quite arresting. If something looking like that was asking me if I was a good child, I’d say yes no matter what. In Brom’s story, Krampus has been imprisoned by Saint Nicholas, and is working on getting free to take his revenge. He has a few servants, called belsnickels, who carry out his orders. Whether or not he succeeds, you’ll have to find out yourself.

He was known to carry with him a whip, a stick, a bell or a sack.

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Sir Francis Drake

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference DepartmentSir_Francis_Drake_(post_1580)

419 years ago Sir Francis Drake died of dysentery on a ship near Puerto Rico; it was his last voyage. It was fitting that this privateer, naval captain and hero to the English died at sea, on his ship. He was almost always at sea.

Francis Drake was born in 1540, probably, since no recorded date exists. When he was nine, his family moved to Kent. It was a lucky break for Francis. His father was appointed as chaplain for the King’s Navy, which brought Francis to the sea. He was apprenticed to a family neighbor who had coastal ship, and thus his training started. He was such a natural at sea that the ship’s owner, being so impressed with his abilities, willed Francis his ship. And so he got his first ship.

In 1563, when he was twenty-three, Drake made his first voyage to the Americas with his cousin, whose family owned a fleet of ships. One must suppose that from the age of nine to at least his mid-teens, he was learning the ropes, so to speak, probably working his way up from the lowly cabin boy. History doesn’t say, but he did well enough to sail with his cousin several times.

In 1572, commanding his first fleet, he sailed to the Isthmus of Panama (where the Panama Canal is now.) During the raid, Drake was badly wounded, and the crew, wanting to save his life, left the treasure they had liberated. He recovered and then set about liberating some more gold and treasure from Spain. He had a close call later; his partner was captured and beheaded. With the Spanish hot on his trail, he and two volunteers built a raft and sailed on it to meet up with the rest of the fleet. (Wow!)

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1570 map of the Americas

After Panama, he was asked by Queen Elizabeth to raid the Spanish along the American Pacific coast, but bad weather stopped him. He tried again, and lost several ships. He ended up wintering in the Argentina area, or what was later to be Argentina. With his last ship (the Golden Hinde), he made it to the western coast of South America. He captured a ship here, a ship there, adding to his fleet and obtaining more accurate maps of the area. He liberated a ship of wine and a treasure ship carrying 25,000 pesos. He also captured a ship with 80 pounds of gold and 25 tons of silver! He sailed all the way up to California, calling it New Albion; he may have been the first white man to see the San Francisco Bay!. In 1580, after sailing across the Pacific and around India and Africa, he sailed into Plymouth. The queen’s share of the treasure was more than the income of the nation for the whole year! He was knighted the next year, by a French diplomat, as Elizabeth watched.

King Phillip II of Spain had declared war, so the British government ordered Drake to attack the Spanish colonies. In 1585, commanding twenty one ships, he did just that. With twenty-one ships under his command, he sailed to Spain and then the colonies of Santa Domingo and Cartagena. He even sacked St. Augustine (in Florida) and stopped by Roanoke and took all the colonists back to England. Could this be what happened to the lost colony? He returned to England in 1586 to be hailed a hero. In another raid later that year, he raided Cadiz, destroying 37 ships. Based on these continued attacks and raids Phillip II ordered a planned invasion of England. Spain was truly feeling the pinch from the English privateers.

The Spanish Armada off the English coast

This invasion, now called the Spanish Armada, was to overwhelm, defeat England and overthrow Queen Elizabeth and bring back Catholicism. In July 1588, this fleet of 130 ships was planning to sail to the Flemish coast and meet up with Flemish troops. The fleet never met with the Flemish soldiers, since the Protestant Dutch were blockading the port. Drake, who was now Vice Admiral of the English Navy captured one of the Spanish flag ships; the next morning the English brought out fire ships, which dispersed most of the fleet. Finally the weather took over and one third of the fleet was lost to storms and the rocky coasts on England (Cornwall) and Ireland. The Spanish Armada was no more.

In 1589, Drake was ordered by the queen to sail to Portugal to help support the Portuguese in their uprising against King Phillip II (he ruled both Spain and Portugal at this time), and also to find and destroy any remaining Armada ships. They were also to try to capture the Azores. This proved disastrous, since they lost twenty ships and over 100 men. He continued with the navy, but his glory days were behind him. During the attack on San Juan, 1596 (still a Spanish colony at this time) his cabin was badly damaged by a cannon ball shot. He survived, but succumbed to dysentery a few weeks later. He was buried at sea in a leaded coffin; he was 55. Although many people have tried to find his coffin, no one has yet been successful.

 


Drake’s famous ship – The Golden Hind

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Drake’s famous ship the Golden Hind was originally known as Pelican, but was renamed by Drake mid-voyage in 1578, in honor of his patron, Sir Christopher Hatton, whose crest was a golden ‘hind’ (a female deer). Hatton was one of the principal sponsors of Drake’s world voyage.

After Drake’s circumnavigation, the Golden Hind was maintained for public exhibition for nearly 100 years at Deptford. This is the earliest known example of a ship being maintained for public display because of her historic significance. She eventually rotted away and was finally broken up. Two replicas have since been built over the years; the first of them was permanently on display in Brixham after 1963, when it was built for a TV series about Francis Drake, but was wrecked by a storm in 1987. The next replica was built in Devon soon after, in 1973, using traditional methods. She sailed from Plymouth on her maiden voyage in late 1974, arriving on May 8, 1975 in San Francisco. Between 1981 and 1984, she was berthed in England and was established as an educational museum, but in 1984–1985 she sailed around the British Isles and then crossed the Atlantic to the Caribbean. In 1986, she passed through the Panama Canal to sail on to Vancouver. In 1987, she began a tour of the US Pacific coast. In 1988, she passed back through the Panama Canal to visit Texas. In 1992 she returned home to tour the British Isles again. The oceangoing Golden Hinde has been featured in several films; since 1996 she has been berthed in London where she hosts visits from schools.


Other interesting items:
There is a board game called Francis Drake, which came out in 2013. Here is the description: Return to a bustling Plymouth Harbor in 1572 as an aspiring Elizabethan captain makes preparations for three exciting voyages to the Spanish Main in search of fame and fortune! The object of the game is to see who can set sail and reach the Spanish Main first. The riches of the Aztec and Inca Empires await the swashbuckling captains.

There is a Sir Francis Drake hotel in downtown San Francisco. Perhaps it is named after Drake since he sailed to this city? It was built in 1928 and although it has been refurbished it still tries to have an older, more historic feel to it. The doormen are Beefeaters, and the place gets four star ratings. It’s even pet friendly!

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What’s In a [Pen] Name?

By Sharon Reily, Reference Department

“Pseudonym” comes from the Greek pseudonymos, meaning “having a false name, under a false name,” and writers have used pseudonyms or pen names for centuries. Everybody knows that “Mark Twain” was the pen name for Samuel Clemens, and by now most readers have figured out that “Robert Galbraith” (The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm) is a pseudonym for Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling. But did you know that “J.K. Rowling” is also a pseudonym? Rowling’s real name is Joanne (no middle initial) Rowling! Why would an author choose to write under a different name? And just who are some of these writers who’ve pulled the literary wool over readers’ eyes with alternate identities?

To Conceal Gender

wuthering heights book cover

One of the most common reasons for writing under an assumed name is to conceal the author’s gender. Women writers simply weren’t always taken as seriously as their male counterparts, and some of the most celebrated authors of all times had to use masculine pen names to insure their works were given the same consideration as male writers, or even be published at all. Among the most famous are the Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Charlotte published her works, including the classic Jane Eyre, under the male pen name “Currer Bell.” Emily used “Ellis Bell” for her masterpiece Wuthering Heights, while Anne wrote Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as “Acton Bell.”

To Conceal Identity

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Louisa May Alcott published her most famous work, Little Women, under her real name, but she began her career writing as “A.M. Barnard.” Mary Ann Evans began writing as “George Eliot” to distance herself from the female romance novelists of the Victorian era. She revealed her true identity after her novel Adam Bede was well-received, but continued using her pen name for her other works, including Middlemarch. Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa, is better known as “Isak Dinesen.” Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin is famous as “George Sand.” Women writers still use male or androgynous pen names. Science fiction novelist Alice Mary Norton wrote as “Andre Norton” to increase her marketability with her primarily male audience. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter publishers urged her to use initials instead of her real name Joanne for fear the target audience of young boys wouldn’t read something written by a woman. Jane Austen hid her identity but not her gender when she published Sense and Sensibility as “A Lady.”

To Switch Genres

mcbain book cover

Sometimes writers known for specific genres just want to try something different, which can be confusing and off-setting to their faithful readers. So they choose to use pen names. Mystery writer Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels as “Mary Westmacott.” Nora Roberts, mainly known for her romance novels, branched out into science fiction as “J.D. Robb.” Anne Rice, famous for her Vampire Chronicles, writes erotic fiction as “A.N. Roquelaure” and “Anne Rampling.” (For the record, her real name is Howard Allen O’Brien, so “Anne Rice” is also a pen name.)

J.K. Rowling wrote her adult mysteries The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm as “Robert Galbraith” to “publish without hype or expectation” and received unbiased reviews from critics without the preconceived notions her name carries. Novelist Evan Hunter (born Salvatore Albert Lombino) saw his most success writing crime fiction as “Ed McBain” (the 87th Precinct series). Hunter’s 2005 New York Times obituary explained that McBain and Hunter bylines were kept very separate “to avoid any confusion or shock that readers of Evan Hunter’s ‘serious’ books might feel when exposed to the ‘mayhem, bloodshed, and violence’ that were Ed McBain’s meat and drink.” Isaac Asimov, best known for his popular science and science fiction works, wrote a series of juvenile sci-fi novels as “Paul French.” Poet Cecil Day-Lewis published detective novels as “Nicholas Blake.”

To Avoid Saturating The Market

the regulators book cover

Early in Stephen King’s career, his publishers felt writers should be limited to putting out only one book a year. To get around this restriction, he created “Richard Bachman.” He came up with the name while on the phone with his publisher – he had a Richard Stark novel on his desk and a Bachman Turner Overdrive song was playing. King wrote four novels as Bachman but once his cover was blown, he declared Bachman dead of “cancer of the pseudonym.”

A more extreme example is provided by horror master Dean Koontz. Throughout the 1970s, Koontz published as many as eight books a year, and since his editors told him that writing in different genres under the same name was a bad idea, and risked serious overexposure, he chose some aliases: “Aaron Wolfe,” “Brian Coffey,” “David Axton,” “Deanna Dwyer,” “John Hill,” “K.R. Dwyer,” “Leigh Nichols,” “Anthony North,” “Owen West,” and “Richard Paige.” Koontz is suspected of using other names as well, but only admits to writing under these ten pen names.

To Separate A Writing Career From A “Day Job”5180sUOPy3L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Nevil Shute Norway published his novels, including A Town Like Alice and On the Beach, as “Nevil Shute” to protect his aeronautical engineering and business careers. Renowned Egyptologist Dr. Barbara Mertz is better known as “Elizabeth Peters,” writer of the bestselling Amelia Peabody mystery series. Sir Walter Scott wrote Waverly and other novels anonymously to protect his reputation as a poet. “Ann Landers” was a pen name created by the popular advice column’s original author, Ruth Crowley, who didn’t want it confused with another column she was writing about child care. Joe Klein, TIME magazine political columnist, wrote the novel Primary Colors, based on Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign, as “Anonymous” and went to great lengths to protect his true identity.

As a Pen Name for a Group of WritersHardy-Boys

It turns out that some well-known writers never existed at all! The Hardy Boys series by Franklin W. Dixon was written instead by several ghostwriters. Likewise, the Nancy Drew and Dana Girls series were not the work of Carolyn Keene, who didn’t exist, but by different ghostwriters. Laura Lee Hope, credited with The Bobbsey Twins series, was also just a pseudonym for several ghostwriters.

 

No matter why a writer chooses to use a pseudonym, whether to mask gender, explore different genres, or maintain professional and personal privacy, key results are the unlocking of creativity, the freedom to write as one pleases, and the opportunity to have one’s work made available to readers. Without the use of pen names, some of literature’s greatest masterpieces (and works of popular fiction) might never have been written or published.

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Guest Post: Keep Your Holidays in the Green

By Patsy Watkins MPS, CFCS
Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, UT/TSU Extension, Williamson County

Keep you Holidays green by saving money. Follow these tips:

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  • Make a holiday budget for all holiday spending and Stick To It!
  • Pay cash for all purchases
  • Just say NO – you don’t have to do everything
  • Avoid the store card discount traps- do NOT sign up for a new credit card in exchange for 10%-20% off your purchase
  • Make a holiday shopping list and include the maximum amount to be spent for each item
  • Start early – so you don’t panic
  • Remember money does not equal love or affection

Avoid these Holiday Spending Mistakespost

  • Going overboard with gift wrap. Recycle- Reuse is totally acceptable.
  • Overuse of credit cards. Set a spending limit and stick to it!
  • Guilty Spending. Don’t shop with negative emotions. Don’t shop in a rush or when you are tired.
  • Not trimming your gift list. You don’t have to buy everyone a gift. Send a card or note.
  • Confusing buying with celebrating. Remember the real reason for the season.
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