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Category: Holiday Weekend

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Weather or not, Spring is Here!

Weather Spring Equinox

Happy Equinox Day: The first day of Spring is Here! Technically, this year the first day of Spring occurred on 3/20/2022 – even though as we saw last year, it was on the twenty-first (https://suntexllc.com/spring-has-officially-sprung/). Why the difference? For that answer, I’ll turn the online version of the Farmer’s Almanac (check it out, here: https://www.farmersalmanac.com/spring-equinox-first-day-spring).

As the article within this link will attest, the first day of spring changes because…

“Essentially, our hours of daylight—the period of time each day between sunrise and sunset—have been growing slightly longer each day since the winter solstice in December, which is the shortest day of the year (at least in terms of light).

Even though we know that after December 21st, the days start getting steadily longer, we still see more darkness than light over the course of a day in those three months leading up to spring. The vernal equinox marks the turning point when daylight begins to win out over darkness.

At this moment, the direct rays of the Sun are shining down on the equator producing the effect of equal day and night (give or take a few minutes, see below).  After the vernal equinox, the direct rays of the Sun migrate north of the Equator (with hours of daylight steadily growing longer) until they finally arrive at the Tropic of the Cancer (latitude 23.5 degrees north)” (https://www.farmersalmanac.com/spring-equinox-first-day-spring).

Keep in mind that this specific set of facts about the Earth’s orbit around the sun apply to the Northern hemisphere – the Southern hemisphere would then, in turn (ha!), experience the same phenomenon of the days getting longer, following the autumn/winter equinoxes.

Though the Texas weather might fool us into believing that winter is not yet over, keep in mind that warmer days are just around the corner! I hope you have started planning and planting your spring garden, and made a plan to keep cool this summer, particularly as energy prices and demand start to climb. Should you have any questions about the energy efficiency in your home, feel free to give us a call today.

Either way, we hope you have a Happy Spring!

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Marching into Spring with A Blume and Aplomb

March SpringHappy First day of March! I’ll do my best to keep the marching puns to a minimum but unfortunately for you all, that does not mean none will occur.

While we will continue to celebrate Black American history all year long, there is a lot to celebrate in March as well! This month we celebrate Women’s Appreciation month as well as the first day of spring (Sunday, March 20th), Saint Patrick’s Day and if you’re creative (or one of the writers at Spruce.com) – many more, check out a few others here: https://www.thespruce.com/special-days-and-observances-in-march-1448890.

Along with the holidays mentioned above, with the season officially changing in March from winter to spring, we’ll dig back into energy usage in the home and how that may change in the coming months. We’ll probably also get into a few DIY home and gardening projects, not to mention organic gardening tips; along ways to save money on home projects big and small. We’ve explored a few of these topics some in the past – feel free to browse them here:

Energy Usage: https://suntexllc.com/energy-usage-around-the-world/

DIY Home/Gardening Projects: https://suntexllc.com/home-gardens-and-cold-fronts/

Composting and Organic Gardening Tips: https://suntexllc.com/cheating-death/

However, this spring we’ll also start to get a little more detailed and pull in additional sources to better understand the subject matter pertaining to all things home improvement, particularly as they involve energy usage/storage and other energy and money-saving tips.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine's DayHappy Monday all! The day you’ve been waiting for – and possibly dreading – is here at last! I hope you’ve already made reservations, or plan to pick up a nice dinner on your way home – not to mention the traditional gifts of flowers or chocolates and balloons – because these treats will be going fast now that Valentines Day is upon us. What’s your favorite Valentine’s Day celebration or tradition? Feel free to share within the comments section, and whatever you do to celebrate we hope you have a wonderful day today!

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Just in time for Galentine’s Day

Whether you plan to make reservations and go out to a fancy meal, or watch horror movies with your single friends, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! To spare you the heartache and despair of being caught unaware, consider this your first reminder to make plans now, send out invites, or grab some Encanto-themed kids Valentine’s Day cards from the store to send to friends and family, and get to planning. Your friends and family will be psyched to learn just how up-to-date you are with your Disney movies, and to learn how much you truly care about them.

However, Valentine’s Day isn’t the only celebration in mid-February worth mentioning – don’t forget about Leslie Knope’s greatest contribution to our world either: Galentine’s day is just around the corner as well!

Don’t know what this is? Just check out the following link below in which Park’s and Rec’s Leslie Knope tells all – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYv1zjBOMew.

Fritinancy: Word of the week: Galentine's Day

While it’s not as fun as watching the episode to get a feel for yourself, here’s a direct quote regarding this event and what it entails:

“Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home and we just come and kick it breakfast style. Ladies celebrating ladies.”

-Leslie Knope (https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/galentines-day-13th-february-parks-rec-b1801837.html).

While every weekend may feel like a girls’ weekend when you’re single, it’s important to celebrate those female friendships that have helped you through the tough times, made you laugh when you wanted to cry, and provided a healthy dose of silliness in this all-to-serious world. So don’t forget to book a spot for Sunday brunch this weekend, or host the ladies at your home on Sunday morning, and start preparing for the big day now! Even cynics can get into celebrating friendship at least once a year.

Whatever your plans for Valentine’s Day or Galentine’s Day entail, we do hope you have a wonderful celebration this weekend, and enjoy the rest of this short month as well. If you’ve got stories to share from past Valentine’s or Galentine’s Day events, or want to brainstorm what you’ll be doing this year, please feel free to share within the comments below. In the meantime, happy planning!

Galentine's Day

Blackout Contingency Planning: 2022 Survival Guide

I wasn’t originally planning to write a post about Blackouts in 2022 for several reasons:

  1. I thought that the polar vortex of 2021, and subsequent snow-pocalypse, was in fact a once-every-10-years type of event as climatologists had predicted, and believed that the weather would sort of go back to “normal” – droughts, and only a few days below freezing.
  2. Given last year’s grid debacle, subsequent deaths, and the PTSD we all now face as a result, I didn’t want to contribute to any unnecessary panic.
  3. Perhaps it’s naïve, but I really thought that the state’s leadership would do something – anything – to “fix the grid” as a contingency plan just in case we experienced any more freezes.

Unfortunately however, given what we discussed in previous blogs (https://suntexllc.com/texas-senate-following-the-bills-where-are-we-now/), it seems that we the people of Texas are the first and last lines of defense against the brutal cold we are already experiencing this winter, and there are likely more freezing days to come. Thus, I’d like to provide a few easy steps to winterize your own home prior to experiencing freezing temps, and just in case the grid fails again this year and we experience “rolling blackouts,” so you’re better prepared to handle it.

Blackout Faucet Protector

Snowstorm/Blackout Contingency Planning for the Outdoors 

First, let’s focus on the outside prep – since you’ll want to do this first, preferably before the storm hits. You want to start by covering any outside water spigots with foam covers – you can find these at your local hardware store (assuming they’re in stock), or online if you plan far enough ahead. Check out one example here: https://www.lowes.com/pd/CompanyBox-Styrofoam-Faucet-Cover/1000651583, also featured in the photo on the left.

Of course, if the hardware stores run out (like they did last year when my husband and I finally got around to looking for them), you can always cut up a pool noodle and tape it around the faucet as a cover as we did, and you might even have some left over to give to a neighbor or store for next year.

Now, let’s consider the garden. I wrote a post not too long ago which explained how to prep your garden for freezing temperatures – check it out here: Home Gardens and Cold Fronts. For now I’ll simply sum it up as follows:

  • Plan to bring in any potted plants since you can do so, and likely they’ll be safer inside – plus these tend to be a little more temperamental in the cold.
  • Cover any freeze-intolerant plants such as citrus trees or cacti with tarp – or if you’re a hoarder like me, you can also use old shower liners. Just be sure to secure them with a rock or two so they don’t blow away (the more rocks you add to seal the sides, the better, since you’re trying to create a mini-greenhouse effect.
  • If you’re worried about an icy driveway, add sand instead of salt – it has similar properties, and should keep your driveway ice-free, however sand is much safer on your garden since excessive salt will kill most plants

Snowstorm/Blackout Contingency Planning for Indoors

Now that you’ve prepped the outdoors, it’s time to start looking inward. No, I don’t mean mindful meditation – though it couldn’t hurt – instead I’m referring to winterizing your home. Hopefully you didn’t go to the hardware store without reading the whole blog, because while you’re there picking up foam covers you may also want to grab some weather-stripping for your exterior doors. This product can take on various forms, at varied prices and installation processes, so my recommendation would be to measure the door frame to see how much you might need, and then check out the various types online first to determine your preference.

Weather-stripping is wonderful because it’s a cost-effective way to make sure your door seals properly – trapping heat inside the house and saving you money and energy when heating your home. Similarly, when your home has proper insulation (in the walls, attic, and crawl spaces), you can trap heat more effectively inside (and air-conditioning in the summertime), again saving you money and energy in controlling the temperature indoors.

I’ll only mention this here, and shamelessly plug SUNTEX here since we can help you out and provide a free quote, however the installation process does take more time – so you’ll want to start planning for this project months ahead of a winter storm or a scorching summer day. That said, please do give us a call with any questions on insulating your home!

Blackout Grid WaterIn the direst of circumstances, when a blackout does occur, you’ll want to take a few extra emergency planning steps, and the more you plan ahead, the easier they will be to manage:

  1. Cover your windows with blankets and/or cardboard and/or foil to trap heat inside.
  2. Keep candles and lighters/matches somewhere you can easily locate them in the dark.
  3. If you have a fireplace, make sure you’ve kept enough firewood warm and dry to last until the outdoor temperature rises again – keep in mind that you can experience hypothermia in temperatures above freezing, especially if you get wet, so it’s important to stay warm and dry during a freeze (check out the following Mayo clinic link for symptoms of hypothermia and when to seek medical help: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothermia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352682#:~:text=Hypothermia%20is%20a%20medical%20emergency,95%20F%20(35%20C).
  4. Dress in baggy and tight layers, alternating with each layer of clothing, and tucking things in where possible – for example, if you start with leggings and a shirt, then add socks pulled up over them, then a t-shirt tucked into sweatpants, and finally a sweatshirt on top – you will be much warmer than had you just warn the sweats.
  5. If you have a car, don’t forget you can always turn it on and sit in it for a couple of hours while you warm up and charge your phone (assuming you have a full tank of gas of course), however DO NOT sit inside a car in your garage or you will risk carbon monoxide poisoning – which is odorless and colorless, and very hard to detect until it’s too late (here’s what the CDC has to say about it: https://www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm).

Now, if there is a burst pipe in your area and the water gets shut off to avoid flooding (as can happen in freezing temperatures if pipes are not properly winterized), don’t panic! There are a few things you can do that don’t include evacuating to a hotel:

  1. Store some potable water ahead of time or pick up a few gallons from the store just in case.
  2. Capture rainwater/snow in a large pot and boil it to ensure you kill any bacteria (if you’re familiar with the SODIS method of water purification then congrats! However, I would not recommend this strategy in the winter, particularly during a storm, since you may not get enough sunlight to purify the water naturally).
  3. Store snow in your bathtub to have on-hand for bucket-baths and cleaning dishes.

Snowstorm/Blackout Contingency Planning for the Over-achievers

Now, if you really want to prepare for a blackout or a water shutoff, there are a few other things you might want to consider doing before the freeze sets in:

  1. Do the laundry! Your washer and dryer require enormous amounts of energy (not to mention the water needed to run your washing machine), so be sure to do this ahead of time so that you’re not using excessive power while trying to keep your heat on. If you don’t get to this before the storm hits, just wait until the temperatures increase again or you might be contributing to unnecessary rolling blackouts.
  2. Do the dishes! This one seems fairly straight forward since you’re already doing this daily, however it’s much better to have a clean sink to work with if the water gets shut off since you’ll need less rainwater/snow to clean dishes during the outage. It’s also a nice mental reprieve for an already beleaguered person who’s trying to survive the cold.
  3. Keep in mind that food in your fridge will go bad if you continually open and close the fridge while the power is out, so if it’s cold enough, you can simply put your refrigerated items outdoors until the power returns, or use a cooler packed with snow.
  4. For pet owners: take your dogs on a long walk the day before the storm hits! This is a real pro-tip since not many people probably think about this until their dogs are running around the house with all their pent-up energy from being indoors. You probably won’t want to drive to the park or go on a long run in the sleet/snow, so if you wear them out ahead of time, chances are they’ll be happy to sleep for a day or two while you’re running around trying to keep the house warm.

While these steps are helpful, you may still need to leave your home and go to a hotel with power (one near a hospital, for example, which is usually prioritized by grid operators during rolling blackouts) if you have medical devices that require power, or if you don’t have a car you can seek refuge in.

You might even be able to call your insurance provider to see if they can help recoup the cost if for example, power lines go down in your neighborhood or the water is shut off for extended periods of time. Just use caution and common sense to decide when to go, since the roadways could be dangerous if you wait too long, or you could end up wasting money if the power does not go out and your water stays on. Do what makes sense to keep yourself safe and warm.

The most important piece of advice I could give you is Don’t Panic! You are far more capable than you think, and if you follow the steps outlined above, while you may not be thriving for a few days, you will survive, and especially in Texas, you’ll be back in hot weather again before you know it. If you have any additional tips, please do feel free to share them in the comments below. In the meantime, stay warm, stay dry, and enjoy the snowy scenery!

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New Year, New You, Just in time for 2022

You and GoalsResolutions, smesolutions; Who do you want to be this year?

With the new year arriving just after the winter solstice, and the days starting to lengthen, it’s a wonderful time to consider what you want your life to look like over the next year. Perhaps there’s not a whole lot you’d like to change – which is a fabulous place to be in!

Between the shorter, colder, winter days, and the global pandemic raging on for a third year now, it’s safe to say many of us thought life would be back to a more “normal” state by now. So if the thought of taking up another new DIY hobby is wearing you down, you’re not alone.

Perhaps you already read Lifehacks “20 Practical Ways to Improve Yourself Every Day” (here for reference of course: https://lifehacks.io/improve-yourself-every-day/), and you’ve already learned a new language and tried your hand at plenty of new skills. Perhaps you’ve already read every book on your bookshelf and have exhausted your library card checking out everything on your reading list. Maybe you’ve had plenty of time to escape into another dimension and build your Minecraft forts and construct pastures to raise animals and crops.

If so, please do share your tips with the rest of us in the comments section below! According to uabmedicine.org, less than 8% of people actually stick to their resolutions each year, even though my guess is that you still set one come January 1st. Why then do we continue to set them?

I remember back in high school, senior year – queue old jokes, yes I can remember that far back – just before graduation, I had this gnawing feeling of dread thinking, “Okay, so what? What’s next?” Even the day of graduation – while there was good food, and friends saying heartfelt goodbyes, and family traveled in to celebrate this big achievement – it still somehow felt both underwhelming: “I worked for nearly 18 years, for this?!” and also overwhelming: “I have to become an adult now, childhood is over” all at once.

This right here, these moments in life where it seems as though you’re crushed by expectations and you’ve worked so hard to get to where you are already – this is why goal setting is so important. It keeps us moving, forward.

PositivePsychology.com states that, “Setting goals helps trigger new behaviors, helps guides your focus and helps you sustain that momentum in life. Goals also help align your focus and promote a sense of self-mastery.”

The thing is, you may not need to be any different, and certainly you shouldn’t feel pressured to change anything about yourself just to ‘fit in’ or make more money, however goals can help you to focus, and to grow in ways you didn’t expect. Not to mention, it’s good for your mental health and accomplishing your goals can be very intrinsically rewarding.

Let’s use a popular example: Steve Jobs and Apple. Thanks to inc.com, we know that “Apple lost $867 million in 1996 and its market cap was under $3 billion. In 2011, Apple’s market cap was approximately $300 billion.” He could have retreated and said to himself, “I am the problem, I am unsuccessful, I can’t keep going,” however what he said instead was,

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

(Full link: https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/steve-jobs-wanted-what-every-remarkably-successful-person-wants.html#:~:text=Jobs’%20goal%20when%20he%20re,(not%20coincidentally)%20made%20money).

As they say, ‘hindsight is 20/20,’ and we know today that Apple did not crumble but went on to be a billion-dollar tech giant that’s created millions of jobs and inspired similar products world-wide. The amazing thing is that Apple started out of a garage. If he can do it, why not you?

You and GoalsEven just last year, as I began writing this blog for SUNTEX and knew nothing about “Search Engine Optimization” or keywords – it seemed like an incredibly daunting task. My boss and founder of SUNTEX, Alejandra Mendoza, had tasked me with writing 3-4 blogs each week with the goal of improving our SEO (even though neither of us knew at the time what this really meant).

If you look back to my very first post (here for reference: https://suntexllc.com/new-year-new-look/) you might notice that it’s smaller (which wasn’t long enough to improve our SEO stats), had much less detail, and really no voice. It was a blog, sure, by definition, however I didn’t feel confident calling myself a “blog writer” at the time – the concept still felt foreign to me.

So I continued to work on it daily, listened to webinars, sought feedback, and read as much as I could about web design and improving your SEO.

Fast forward one year to now, and our website is on the front page of google, consistently ranks high in SEO ‘scores,’ and we’ve even been discovered by lots of new people either applying with the company to work for us, or homeowners searching for home upgrades and energy efficient solutions to save money on their energy bills. Id Est, by the end of the year, we had accomplished our goal of improving our online presence. The rewards have been innumerable, but it’s safe to say the most rewarding part is my own confidence in getting better at something I knew nothing about at the start.

So this year, as you head into the unknown, as we endure another year of what looks like Coronavirus variants and lockdowns to come, ask yourself who you want to be – what you want your life to look like, professionally, personally, spiritually – and start making the small goals to motivate yourself to get there. The world is waiting for your next move, take it.

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Happy New Year! Welcome to 2022

New Year

I hope you’ve eaten your black-eyed-peas, or your 12 grapes at midnight, because the new year is finally here! On a personal note, my mother – who still calls me each year to make sure – instilled in me the absolute necessity of eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck. In fact, I remember one year I searched three different grocery stores on New Year’s Day and they were completely sold out of black-eyed-peas, so I know some of you are familiar with this tradition already!

However if you’d like to o learn a little about where these traditions originated, check out the following links, respectively: https://www.oliversmarket.com/whats-the-deal-with-the-peas-anyway/#:~:text=The%20black%2Deyed%20peas%20that,the%20first%20day%20of%20January, and here: https://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/12/28/12-grapes-at-midnight-spains-great-new-years-eve-tradition-and-superstition/ – and typically I try not to play favorites with other websites but these articles were both very eye-opening, and the second one about the tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight is hilarious and definitely entertaining. Please do check them out in your spare time, you won’t be sorry.

That said, what an incredible start to the New Year we’ve had thus far. Personally, we arrived back home from the Christmas holidays, just in time to spend New Years Eve with some good friends, delicious food, and great drinks. All joking aside, we rang in the new year with a lot of laughter and love, and with a sense of excitement I haven’t felt in the past couple of years – and am hoping this feeling will carry through for all of 2022.

On a side note, I must warn you that now that we’re in a year ending in ‘2’ get ready for lots of rhyming to come through in 2022…you get the idea. While we’re on this random tangent, please raise your hand if like me, you also ask yourself each year… “wait, is it Happy New Year, or Happy New Years?!” To help us out, Grammarly has put together a short blog to address that exact question – check it out, here: https://www.grammarly.com/blog/happy-new-year-2/#:~:text=New%20Year’s%20is%20the%20end,year%20happens%20at%20a%20time. The short answer is, it’s almost always “Happy New Year!” since ‘years’ would imply multiple new year’s.

New Year 2022

On a more professional note, we are in the process of welcoming to a few new folks joining our sales team, including some brand new players, as well as some friendly faces from years past. With the growth of our sales staff, and a reenergized look to our horizon, we’re ready to take this year by storm. While I can’t give too much away just yet, I can say from personal experience and having worked with a couple of these people in the past, that they are some of the kindest and hardest-working individuals I’ve ever met, and I’m thrilled to work with them once more.

We’ve also increased our operations staff to bring you even more of the highest caliber customer service you expect from us at SUNTEX. I know I’m not alone in saying we’re looking forward to seeing what they bring to the team, and as leading industry experts, I know they will help to set us apart, while bringing superior innovations and ideas to the table.

More to come on new team member highlights in the near future (and be sure to check out our ‘About Us’ page periodically to see what changes are announced there – https://suntexllc.com/about-us/), but for now, please join me in giving them a warm welcome, and sharing in the excitement that 2022 has already brought to SUNTEX! We can’t wait to help you curate the energy-efficient home of your dreams, so give us a call today for a free quote. In the meantime, from the entire team at SUNTEX, we wish you a magnificent start to 2022, and once again, Happy New Year!

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Closing Out 2021, See you Next Year

New Year

It’s crazy to think that I’ve been writing this blog for almost a whole year now (see our first blog post, here: New Year, New Look). I remember when I first began, the thought of having enough to say to produce pages and pages of insight into the solar industry, or the home-improvement industry as a whole, was very daunting. It just goes to show that the old adage of completing a task “little by little” has rung true once more, and I’m personally grateful to SUNTEX for allowing me the flexibility and the opportunity to share so much of that journey with you all.

As we wrap up 2021, celebrating the end of the holiday season and looking forward to the new year, I can’t help but be grateful to all of those that have helped us grow this year. Sending a huge thank you to all of our customers, partners, friends, and family members who shared in our vision and helped us get to where we are today, we truly could not have done it without your support.

Though we’ve said it before, this year certainly did not come without a set of challenges – from COVID-19 continuing to spread throughout our communities, to supply chain shortages felt by many of the businesses that support us, it’s safe to say we’ve carried a little extra weight from our burdens this year. While I cannot sugar-coat the difficulties we’ve faced in the solar industry as a whole, I can stress that it makes the blessings we experience all the sweeter, knowing that they were hard-fought and well deserved.

For example, in October we hired several new faces to our ever-growing sales team, and they prove to be exceptional leaders each day, learning more and more about solar and how it can help our customers save money. We’ve also expanded into Colorado in addition to several cities in Texas, and are looking to grow the business even more in 2022.

New Year

While we have experienced some office closures this year, we’re blessed to live in an era when technological advancements such as zoom and social media sites have kept us more connected than ever to our teams and to our partners, whom have remained steadfast in their commitment to show up each day with a positive attitude and commitment to helping others. Last but certainly not least, we’re grateful to our customers whom have literally kept the lights on in our offices, and food on our tables all year long.

As we head into 2022, there is a renewed sense of purpose – to continue to provide the best customer service that the solar industry has to offer – but also to grow organically and build upon the strong foundation we’ve laid this year. We hope you’re up for the journey ahead as we discover new innovations to reduce energy costs and improve communication across the energy sector, while reaffirming our mission to help customers save money with a company dedicated to honesty and hard work. As we look back over the past year, I am truly amazed by what our team has accomplished together, and know that we’re ready to face whatever challenges may come our way this next year.

So as we look forward to the new year – as we plan for our new years resolutions and returning to work after this holiday season comes to a close – I cannot help but feel excited to continue to work with the best in the industry. Given where we’ve been, I know our future looks bright, and we’re elated to continue that journey into a cleaner, and greener future together. Thank you for being part of the SUNTEX family – we’ll see you in 2022! Stay safe, stay warm, and have a Happy New Year!

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It’s 12-26-21, Let Kwanzaa Begin!

KwanzaaLet the magical holiday of Kwanzaa, begin! While many will still be slumbering as the Christmas meal finally starts to digest in their overstuffed tummies, the holiday season is not over just yet! This year, Kwanzaa 2021 in United States will begin on Sunday, December 26, and ends on Saturday, January 1, 2022.

I remember learning a little about Kwanzaa as a young girl in elementary school, and being excited to partake in the delicious food and beautiful customs of the traditional African holiday. We made paper masks adorned with lots of color and glitter that my parents still hang on their Christmas tree each year to pay homage to the holiday.

However there is more to Kwanzaa than colorful masks and eating good food.

What kinds of traditions does Kwanzaa entail? As you might expect, according to the ‘Official Kwanza Website,’ Kwanzaa is a celebration of Family, Community, and Culture (https://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/). To learn more about what this holiday entails, feel free to read on – however I also found some interesting information on the following website, https://anacostia.si.edu/exhibits/past_exhibtions/kwanzaa/kwanz.htm, which had this to say about the meaning of Kwanzaa:

“Kwanzaa is a Swahili word that means “first” and signifies the first fruits of the harvest. From December 26 to January 1, many people of African descent in America-celebrate Kwanzaa.

KwanzaaIn Africa, there are many customs that are common among the various ethnic groups found on the continent. One of these is the celebration of the harvest. At this time of the year, people of the community/village come together to celebrate and give thanks for their good fortune. Working towards a successful harvest is a communal effort, as is the celebration.

Here in America in 1966, Maulana Ron Karenga and the U.S. Organization adopted the basic principles of the harvest celebrations in Africa to create the observance of Kwanzaa. Karenga recognized that on the whole, African Americans do not live in an agricultural setting. Nonetheless, he sought to emphasize that the basic principles found in producing the harvest are vital to building and maintaining strong and wholesome communities.

In this-way, Kwanzaa was developed. Kwanzaa is that time when we reflect on our use of the basic principles, share and enjoy the fruits of our labor, and recommit ourselves to the collective achievement of a better life for our family, our community, and our people.”

While I have not personally had the benefit of witnessing a traditional Kwanzaa feast, the Candlelight Ceremony as described by the site sounds incredibly uplifting:

“The candle lighting ceremony, central to the celebration of Kwanzaa, takes place at a time when all members of the family are present. Children are encouraged to take an active role in all activities.

The ceremony begins with the TAMBIKO (libation), an African form of praise which pays homage to personal and collective ancestors. To begin, the elder of the household pours wine, juice or distilled spirits from the KIKOMBE CHA UMOJA (unity cup) into the earth or an earth-filled vessel. While pouring, the elder makes a statement honoring departed family members for the inspiration and values they have left with descendants. Friends are also remembered.

KwanzaaAfter the TAMBIKO, as a gesture of unity, the elder drinks from the KIKOMBE CHA UMOJA and then passes it for all to share. The elder leads the call, “HARAMBEE” (Let’s pull together), and everyone participates in repeating the phrase seven times. Candle lighting, central to the ceremony, reinforces the meaning of the principles.

The placement of the mishumaa saba (candles) in the kinara is as follows: Black, for the color of African peoples everywhere, is located in the center. Three red candles, represents the blood of the ancestors, are placed to the left. Three green candles that symbolize the earth, life, and the ideas and promise of the future, are placed to the right. Beginning December 26 with the black mushumaa, a different candle is lit for each day, alternating from left to right. After the candle lighting, the principle of the day is discussed.

The evening of December 31 (Day 6) is the KARAMU, a joyous celebration with food, drink, dance, and music for the collective family and friends. It is a time of rejoicing, reassessment and recommitment.

The ZAWADI, handmade or similarly meaningful gifts for children, may be opened at the KARAMU, or on the final day of Kwanzaa, when Imani is observed,” (link).

So, whether you’re celebrating with family and friends today, or honoring the festivities of Kwanzaa on your own, we wish you a wonderful week of Kwanzaa starting today and through the new year, and many blessings to you all!

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Merry Christmas to You! From all of us at SUNTEX

Merry Christmas

My favorite holiday has finally arrived, and from all of us here at SUNTEX, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

While I can’t speak for everyone, I am especially grateful for Christmas this year, since it’s the first time in two years we’ll be spending it together with our family. Due to the unknowns from the pandemic last year, and the uncertainty of holiday travel, last year my husband, and our two dogs, Earl and Benny, had a very intimate Christmas with just the four of us at home. While we enjoyed celebrating together, we’re grateful that everyone in our extended family is happy and healthy and can celebrate the miracle of Christmas together this year!

Merry Christmas

Unlike other years past, we are fortunate enough to have traveled to Colorado to spend this holiday season at my parents cabin in the Sange de Cristo mountains, and are hoping to actually get a white Christmas this year! Even if it’s just a sprinkling of snow, as a native Texan I can’t help but feel a little extra excitement at the prospect of waking up to snow flurries as we celebrate the day together.

So whether you’re spending the holiday with friends or family, or celebrating a more intimate Christmas day, we hope it’s full of delicious food, holiday merriment, and joyful gatherings that bring you a little more warmth this holiday season. Thank you so much for being part of our extended family here at SUNTEX, and making our year so bright. Our hearts are overcome with joy and gratitude to you all as we celebrate this glorious day together, and we hope that wherever you are, whether you’re celebrating near or far, that you have a happy and joyous holiday as well!

While we know every family has their own holiday traditions, here are just a few ideas to spread the Christmas joy this year:

Or, if you’re not much of a singer but still desire to spread some holiday cheer, check out the following holiday recipes below:

Merry Christmas

If you enjoy designing and decorating, but aren’t much of a cook (or have been relegated to the other rooms in the house by the head chef in charge of cooking the Christmas meal), there are tons of Christmas crafts for you to participate in as well. Here are just a few ideas:

If the holiday season gets to be overwhelming, don’t forget to check out our previous blog on how to decompress for the holidays, here: How to Survive the Holidays as an Introvert.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? I always enjoy reading more about what others are doing to celebrate, and find that Christmas in particular carries a global diversity unlike other American holidays that allow us to feel truly connected and blissful. Please do feel free to share your family traditions in the comments section below! Whatever your favorite Christmas traditions may be, I know I share the sentiments of Santa when I say, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!

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