My Recommended Gift for the 2021 Holiday Season

The last three years I have established a December tradition. To help my readers with their holiday shopping, I present “Brent’s Gift of the Year,” a practical and inexpensive option ($10-$15) that they may consider for their loved ones. In 2018 I suggested an LED cinema lightbox marquee, in 2019 I championed a blanket, and last year I pushed a framed photo. So, what about 2021?

Drum roll please…

Whether you are looking for an item for a Chinese gift exchange, stocking stuffer, or just a thoughtful present, I am advocating that you give the U.S. Postal Service some business and purchase a book of stamps. And yes, I am dead serious.

In 2021, I am suggesting a book of stamps as my gift of the year.

I stand by my conviction that there is no better deal in the world than paying $.55 for a stamp that will give you the power to slap it on an envelope and send it anywhere in the United States. To have a service that will take your letter and shuffle it thousands of miles to the mailbox of someone living in an obscure town on an obscure street in a couple days for well under $1 is insane.

It is also very underutilized. The amount of first class mail shipped per year continues to dwindle. Sure, electronic communication has a lot to do with that but neglecting to take advantage of something that is so therapeutic for the sender and so joyful for the receiver is a shame.

So this year, buy someone a book of stamps. Folks, this doesn’t have to be boring. Did you know the U.S. Postal Service offers all different varieties of stamps? Go online and order something flashy, pretty, or bold. There is no doubt that you will find something that will fit the personality of the recipient. Trust me, many more options exist than the American flag.

Perhaps pair your book of stamps with nice stationary or glossy envelopes. Or include a contact booklet of the recipient’s family and friends with their mailing addresses. Just make it as easy as possible for the person to actually use the stamps.

I alluded to this a couple paragraphs ago, but an additional reason for why I am promoting a book of stamps as my gift of the year is because the benefit extends far beyond the person who is gifted it. Everyone who receives a letter from that book will most likely have their day made. A book is comprised of 20 stamps so that means possibly 20 different people will be touched by the thoughtfulness of one person. Talk about the value of something extending far beyond its $11.60 price.

I admit it, if you choose to take me up on my gift idea your recipient might not be overly excited at first. But give the person the opportunity to discover the power of snail mail. Chances are, they will use one of the stamps in the book to send you a thank you card for the thoughtful gift and for turning them on to a new hobby. Don’t Blink.

Thanksgiving Weekend 2021

Another amazing Thanksgiving weekend has just passed. I always enjoy this time of the year because it provides a well-needed break and is the true kickoff of the holiday season. So much optimism and joy! As is my custom, I like to look back at the weekend and point out a highlight from each day.

Thursday – Kind of a no-brainer, right? We celebrated Thanksgiving at my parents’ house. My sister and her family plus my brother and his wife joined us for excellent food, some drinks, and games. Oh, let’s not forget the desserts either. We had pumpkin pie, cheesecake, peanut butter pie, and chocolate chip cookie bars. If you did any recent reading of this blog, you know what I chose. My fondest memory of the evening was just our conversation around the table when we ate the Thanksgiving meal.

Our family taking some time to let our food settle after Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house.

Friday – We go back to my parents’ house for Friday’s highlight where we gathered to watch the 113th Apple Cup. At the start of the game we heated up the Thanksgiving leftovers and picked our lucky spots in the basement to cheer on the Cougs. Don’t know if much luck was needed on this evening as WSU pulverized the Huskies, 40-13, to secure state bragging rights. It was so awesome to see the football team play such a complete game and put an exclamation point on the regular season. Needless to say, it was a very happy drive home for the four of us.

Sidney and I prior to watching the 2021 Apple Cup.

Saturday – Chuck E. Cheese did something pretty cool. They teamed up with Ryan Kaji of Ryan’s World fame to host a fan fest live event that extended across all of its restaurants in the country. Sloan and I showed up at our Spokane Valley location for the 10:30 a.m. free event. We watched the Ryan special on the televisions and as the story played out the Chuck E. Cheese host did interactive games and crafts with us. Sloan loved it and we were very appreciative of the free tickets they gave us after the program ended.

Sloan following along with the Ryan’s World FanFest at the Spokane Valley Chuck E. Cheese location.

Sunday – We celebrated the first Sunday of Advent by attending mass at St. Mary and then heading over to the gym for Advent Adventures Faith Time. The parish really went all out as Sloan was able to complete an Advent-themed obstacle course, make a homemade Advent wreath, create a “gingerbread” nativity scene, and so much more. We can sometimes look ahead to Christmas without proper preparation but if we take plenty of time to reflect during Advent we can be ready for Christ’s birth.

We had so much fun at the St. Mary Parish (Spokane Valley) Advent event.


Being thankful isn’t confined to Thanksgiving nor is it limited to Thanksgiving weekend. Let us continue to be thankful during the other 361 days of the year. I hope everyone had a terrific weekend. Don’t Blink.

Thanksgiving 2021

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! Last year I wrote a subdued Thanksgiving post acknowledging that many people might not be in the “thankful” mood in 2020. Last year’s holiday fell at the nine-month mark of the pandemic at an especially troublesome time. COVID cases were up, layoffs/furloughs kept coming, and another round of shutdowns had started.

Things are different this year. However, they certainly aren’t normal. Vaccines are available and we have learned to better live with the virus. At the same time, people continue to get sick from the coronavirus while pandemic ramifications still negatively impact everyday life.

For the second year in a row, Thanksgiving will be tough for more people than usual.

I say this to remind my readers that there will still be a higher percentage of people not giddy about Turkey Day compared to pre-pandemic years. Let’s be mindful of this tomorrow.

But don’t let that disclaimer dampen the gratitude you feel within your heart. Especially if you overcame pandemic hardships, you have every reason to be thankful and I hope Thanksgiving 2021 is a joyous one for you.

My family will spend the holiday at my parents’ house. We will be joined by my sister and her family along with my brother and his wife. Our unit has so much to be thankful for and the vibe will be celebratory. However, among the laughs and optimism at our Thanksgiving gathering, I am going to do my best to remember those who aren’t as lucky this year. May your holiday be meaningful. Don’t Blink.

Black Friday Transformation

Back in the mid to late 1990s, shopping malls were still in their heyday. So was our Reser Thanksgiving celebration that took place at my parents’ house and included my dad’s seven siblings and their families. After a joyous, crazy, loud, and fun Turkey Day, my siblings and I would tag along with our aunts, uncles, and cousins to Northtown Mall for Black Friday shopping.

It was a spectacle. Police had to direct traffic in the parking lots, the building was filled to capacity, stores went to great lengths to attract people through their doors, and elaborate Christmas decorations along with the presence of Santa made the mall a special place to be…especially for a 10-year-old boy.

My Black Fridays as a kid were spent at the mall.

Those were my first memories of Black Friday. Since then, things have changed. Throughout my lifetime I have witnessed the day after Thanksgiving evolve from congregating at malls disguised as winter wonderlands to something almost unrecognizable. Black Friday moved from shopping centers to standalone retail stores. The day itself grew longer too as businesses opened in the wee hours of the morning. Then that wasn’t enough so Black Friday Eve (aka shopping on Thanksgiving) became a thing. The digital revolution then exploded and allowed shoppers to take advantage of the “deals” without even stepping foot into a crowded hell many people refer to as Target.

But then the pandemic came along. Consumerism and holiday cheer took a big hit last year and enthusiasm for Black Friday lessened.

With the COVID landscape improved from 2020, Black Friday is back and so are some of the more traditional aspects of it. I have watched my wife frantically scribble in a notebook the past week as she records Nov. 26 deals. She has scanned newspaper ads, browsed her phone, and formulated a game plan for Black Friday that will have her visiting stores around Spokane and me watching “An Elf’s Story” with the kids.

Trying to find hidden treasure in a bin of DVDs (of all things) on Black Friday 2012.

The wonderment I had with Black Friday 25 years ago has been mostly replaced with cynicism and bank account anxiety. But I must admit, seeing Sidney’s intensity and dedication to Black Friday 2021 has been kind of…um…inspiring? I guess that is what a pandemic will do to you. Don’t Blink.

My Top Choice for Thanksgiving Dessert

When it comes time for dessert this Thursday, there will be no question which option I choose. Pass the pumpkin pie please.

Call me a traditionalist, but out of the 1,549 different pumpkin-flavored foods and drinks we get inundated with starting in August, pumpkin pie isn’t just on my top 5 list, it is my absolute favorite.

I always enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert.

I enjoy pumpkin pie so much that I won’t just eat it cold but I will eat it moldy too. However, I prefer my piece warm with a generous portion of whipped cream on top.

The spices, the texture, and the crust are all reasons why I like pumpkin pie. As someone who will devour rich and heavy desserts with plenty of chocolate and peanut butter, Thanksgiving is my time to eat something more focused on flavor than something that is trying to induce a heart attack.

The Costco pumpkin pie is a classic.

So let’s all be sure to make our Costco runs and bring home a pumpkin pie that will last long after Thanksgiving. If you don’t mind, let me give you a pro tip: Pumpkin pie makes for a great breakfast. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week, everyone. Don’t Blink.

Monopoly Thursday Rundown

Let the countdown begin! We are just one week away from Thanksgiving. On that enthusiastic note, let’s get to tonight’s five topics in my latest Thursday Rundown…

Throwback Thursday – Last weekend, my Aunt Nancy sent me something that I had never seen before. It was a photo of me with Santa Claus at Northtown Mall on Black Friday in perhaps 1997. When I saw the image I remembered that specific day going Black Friday shopping with my relatives, including sitting on Santa’s lap. I also remembered wearing my Duke hat but I would be lying if I said I remembered that striped shirt tucked into my sweat pants. Regardless, it was funny to see my pudgy self a quarter century ago.

Me sitting with Santa at Northtown Mall in Spokane in probably 1997 or 1998.

Special Monopoly – So readers, what do you think of specialized Monopoly games? You know, the ones based off a sports team, movie franchise, or town? As crazy as it sounds, I don’t think I have ever played a non-classic Monopoly board game besides Jr. Monopoly. When I was at Walgreens last night I ran into this display of themed Monopoly games, which included a version based on the city I live in and the employer I work for. If this stuff interested me I suppose I would have had Mac and Cheese Monopoly or Don’t Blink Monopoly a long time ago.

I stumbled upon these Monopoly-based games last night at Walgreens.

Ron’s Gone Wrong – Last Saturday I took Sloan to the movie theater to watch “Ron’s Gone Wrong.” The film is about a future society where all children have “B-Bots,” basically a personal assistant robot who knows everything about their child owner and who helps that child develop friendships with others. I think it was a little over Sloan’s head but if you have a son or daughter in the 7-12 age range, I think they would like it. Gen Z and millennial adults will like it too as the film contains many parallels and jokes about the current digital age.

Besides the price for a matinee, there wasn’t too much wrong with “Ron’s Gone Wrong.”

Latest Movies – I discussed the movie I went to the theater to watch so I figure I should address a couple of the movies I went to my living room to watch. This week I watched “Awakenings” and “A River Runs Through It.” Robin Williams is a doctor and Robert De Niro is a mental patient in “Awakenings,” a 1990 film based on true events in 1969. It is a slower movie but told a fascinating tale about something I knew nothing about. As someone who lived in Missoula for eight years, I am embarrassed to say I had not watched “A River Runs Through It” until just this past Sunday. With that said, I don’t think I necessarily missed out on anything. I found the movie to have very little of a plot and even though it is “based” in Missoula it wasn’t even filmed there.

This week I have watched “Awakenings” and “A River Runs Through It.”

Sunset Scene – One current and unfortunate development with my weekly commute to Pullman is that the drive in the morning and the drive back to Spokane in the evening take place almost entirely in the dark. But a really cool sunset this past Tuesday added at least a little bit of beauty to the drive. Got to think positive!

I took this photo on my way back to Spokane after working in Pullman on Tuesday, Nov. 16.


For those who will be slipping into a week-long Thanksgiving vacation after tomorrow, have fun! Thanks for reading and enjoy your Friday. Don’t Blink.

Re-United With My Letterman Jacket

When I graduated high school I left the state. I went to college and then started my career. Fifteen years later I would move back to eastern Washington. Upon my return, my parents started to suggest—no, more like demand—that I take some of the stuff I left at their house as an 18-year-old teenager to my own home. We are talking about high school yearbooks, t-shirts, binders of schoolwork, etc.

This past weekend my parents “allowed me” to take off their hands another item that was literally collecting dust. I happened to drop by their neighborhood at the same time my dad was retrieving holiday decorations in the house’s crawl space. While he was deep inside he could hear me talking to my mom at the entrance to the crawl space. When my dad surfaced he was holding something other than Christmas lights.

In his hand was my yellow Mead High School letterman jacket. I had literally not seen it, let alone worn it, since a couple days before my high school graduation in 2005. I loved that coat. It was my Christmas present my sophomore year and I made sure to get plenty of wear out of it over the next 2.5 years. It fit like a glove, it screamed school spirit, and it made me feel like a stud.

I had to throw on my letterman jacket when my dad brought it out (and Sloan had to pose with me).

Of course the first thing I did was grab the jacket out of my dad’s hand and throw it on. It wasn’t as comfortable as I once remembered and it didn’t hang the same as it did in the early 2000s. But the moment that leather draped my shoulders I was transported back in time and could feel myself walking down the hallways of Mead. Ah, to be young again.

Sloan and I had just finished at the movie theater when we stopped by my parents’ house so it was just the two of us. To be funny, I wore my letterman jacket home and surprised Sid when I walked inside. She wasn’t as enthusiastic about the coat as I was.

I think Sidney could probably do without this Mead High School letterman jacket hanging around the house.

Even as my letterman jacket takes up valuable closet space at our house, I am glad to be reunited with it. I won’t be wearing it to the grocery store or anything but maybe my kids will appreciate it one of these days or ask about the pins on it. Do you still have your letterman jacket? Don’t Blink.

Continuing the Turkey Bingo Tradition

With inflation skyrocketing, there is one thing that people are focusing on this month: the price of a Thanksgiving dinner. Supposedly, 2021 is supposed to be the year that Americans will fork over a small fortune to provide a Thanksgiving meal. It goes without saying what the priciest item on the table is.

So, how do you make Thanksgiving affordable this year if you plan to serve turkey? You win one of course!

Back as a child, one of the highlights every fall was when the Knights of Columbus council at my childhood parish, St. Thomas More in north Spokane, would hold Turkey Bingo. Our entire family would arrive at the church social hall on a Sunday in November to eat popcorn, visit with friends, and try to win a turkey. It was here that I learned about the competitiveness of bingo and the agony of the words “clear your cards.”

Turkey Bingo is a popular fundraising event for Knights of Columbus councils. Council 4196 (St. Mary – Spokane Valley) is no exception.

Fast forward a couple decades to this past weekend. Once again I found myself at turkey bingo. Only this time I was bringing my own family and I was one of the Knights putting it on.

Our large supply of turkeys we gave out at our Turkey Bingo event.

On Sunday, the Knights of Columbus Council #4196 of St. Mary Catholic Parish in Spokane Valley held its annual Turkey Bingo (you can probably guess…turkey bingo events are pretty common in Catholic parishes). After I moved from Myrtle Beach I transferred from Council #5086 to #4196. What a blessing it has been to go from one awesome council to another and what a blessing it is that we are finally back to doing in-person events!

After we set up all the tables and chairs, I took this photo of our set up inside the St. Mary School gym about an hour before we opened to the public.

I had a lot of fun helping my brother knights put on the event but the best part was definitely playing bingo with Sid, Sloan, and my dad. I was given plenty of time to leave my post and enjoy the afternoon with my family. To give Sloan her first taste of bingo and see how much she was genuinely enjoying it was really cool.

Sloan and Sidney at Turkey Bingo at St. Mary Catholic Church in Spokane Valley.

My wife, on the other hand, wasn’t exactly there to “enjoy” it. She was there to win! She had her eight cards spread out in front of her and knew all the combinations she had to hit in order to score a turkey.

Sidney playing her six cards at Turkey Bingo.

Success didn’t come right away but her persistence paid off. In the second to last game, she won the “top and bottom” round to win a bird for the Resers! In addition to walking away victorious, it was an afternoon marked by sweets, 50/50 raffles, and laughs.

Sidney holds up her winning card along with the ticket voucher she was given for her turkey at the Knights of Columbus Turkey Bingo event at St. Mary Catholic Church in Spokane Valley.

To introduce my daughter and wife to one of our old family traditions and to actually now contribute my time to making the event itself function was pretty special. If there is any Catholic man out there who wants to become a Knight, please feel free to reach out to me. Now, let’s get that turkey cooking! Don’t Blink.

Updating My List of Movies I Can Watch Twice

I don’t watch movies twice. Well, there are exceptions to every rule. A long time ago I wrote this blog post that listed the five films I actually will watch more than once. But for the most part, after I watch a movie, no matter how good it is, I won’t watch it again. A big reason I watch movies is for the suspense. Remove that drama by giving me something I have seen before and I just assume not watch it again.

But dang, it has been 10 years since I wrote that post. Over that time, a few more films have achieved “Brent Will Watch Again” status. Tonight, I want to recognize those three movies.

Moneyball – I enjoy this movie so much that I do more than just watch it when it comes on television. Believe it or not, I seek it out on Netflix and watch it even when a thousand other choices I haven’t seen before are available. The film offers so many different themes: family, importance of data, career advancement, second chances, and more. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are phenomenal in it. Watching the late Seymour Hoffman play Oakland Athletics manager Art Howe is a treat. The musical score is so underrated. The movie just never gets old.

Acting, script, score….it is all so good.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – I watched this movie the whole way through for the first time in high school Spanish class. We started watching it in Spanish with English subtitles but got the teacher to allow us to watch it in English with Spanish subtitles. From that point on I have watched “Christmas Vacation” multiple times every subsequent holiday season…in English and with English subtitles (because I watch everything with subtitles). No matter how many times I watch Clark Griswold try to provide an “old fashioned family Christmas” I find myself laughing out loud. From the cringeworthy moments with Cousin Eddie to the catastrophic holiday dinner to Clark opening up his Christmas “bonus” there isn’t a more quotable and addicting Christmas movie. It just isn’t the holiday season if I don’t watch “Christmas Vacation” a couple times.

This movie is worth watching multiple times over any given holiday season.

Anger Management – I have tired of watching Adam Sandler movies like “Happy Gilmore” and “Billy Madison” but there is something about “Anger Management” that keeps me coming back for more. Oh, I think I might know the reason—Jack Nicholson. Call them an odd couple but Sandler and Jack made a movie that is re-watchable by my very tough standards. The laugh out loud moments and the degree to which the movie gets more and more ridiculous as it goes on just hooks me in. “Anger Management” is on an “anytime, anywhere” basis with me as Sidney and I watched it while on our honeymoon!

I enjoy this movie so much that I watched it on my honeymoon.


Let me ask the same question I posed a decade ago: Do you have a certain movie that you can watch over and over again? If so, let me know. Until then, check back in another 10 years to see if I have any other movies to add to this list. Don’t Blink.

Veterans Day Thursday Rundown

There is no other way to begin this Thursday Rundown than to say thank you to our veterans. If you are reading this and happen to be a veteran, I am honored that you would even read my blog. But more importantly, please accept my gratitude for your service to our country. Let’s begin tonight’s post…

Ears Lowered – It wasn’t the first time Beau got a haircut but it was my first time tagging along. My son got his ears lowered at Great Clips and I got to stand on the salon floor with him as his hair drifted to the ground. After the stylist was done with him it looked like Beau had aged about a year. What a handsome young man!

Beau getting a haircut at a Spokane Valley Great Clips on Sunday,

Not in Prime Films – This week I watched a couple movies from the late 2000s with similar themes. The first one I viewed was “The Wrestler” followed by “Crazy Heart.” Both films told stories of substance abusing washed up entertainers. Both movies also boasted fabulous leading role performances with Mickey Rourke playing professional wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson and Jeff Bridges playing country western singer Bad Blake. The movies did such a great job of portraying the battle to stay relevant, the pains of falling from grace, and the relationships that suffer. Out of the two, my favorite was “The Wrestler” and if you have Hulu I highly recommend watching it.

“The Wrestler” and “Crazy Heart” were both good films.

Thanksgiving Reads – In a previous Thursday Rundown I mentioned how Sloan’s nighttime reading routine becomes a little more exciting during the holidays and I used Halloween as an example. Well, it is now November and we are picking up Thanksgiving books during our regular trips to the library. Our library has a five-item limit on holiday-themed materials (which I think is a good thing) so we are always really selective when choosing our books. My favorite among this handful of books? For those who know our family tradition, it might come as no surprise that it is Milly and the Macy’s Parade.

These are the current Thanksgiving books we have at our house.

College Gameday in Missoula? – Pay attention this weekend when ESPN announces where College Gameday will go on Saturday, Nov. 20. If everything continues to go according to plan, the University of Montana should receive hosting privileges. In recent years, Gameday has chosen one Saturday out of the season to spend at an FCS site, a welcome change to its usual Power 5 tour. The show has been in contact with the University of Montana and a social media campaign spearheaded by the Grizzlies has generated a lot of enthusiasm. I am hopeful that my alma mater will land the coveted show and the beautiful city of Missoula will be on full display for a national audience a week from Saturday. Oh yeah, if it all comes to fruition, Gameday would be in town for one of the best rivalries in college football…THE BRAWL OF THE WILD (University of Montana vs. Montana State).

From what I can tell, it is looking good that the University of Montana will land College Gameday. (graphic courtesy of the Montana Kaimin)

Veterans Day Personal Reflection – During my junior year of high school my dad took me on a very memorable trip to Washington D.C. to really get a grasp of my American roots. We did everything from the monuments to the museums to the cathedrals. We walked past the White House, walked on the steps of the Supreme Court, watched Congress in session, saw the newly constructed 9/11 museum, and walked through the National Mall. For a history buff like me, my eyes were wide open the entire time. It was an awesome experience, one that I will never forget.

However, the part of the trip that will forever be cemented inside my mind and in my heart came when we visited Arlington National Cemetery. We got off the metro and after just taking a few steps you could see it. Rows and rows of white tombstones poking out of the earth and expanding further than the eye could see. As we got onto the cemetery grounds and started looking around a thick aurora of reverence engulfed me. Although other tourists were all around me there was no noise whatsoever. We were on the hallowed grounds of where close to a half million people were buried, people who had the courage and inclination to give up their lives so someone like me could live a comfortable life with invaluable freedoms. It was an absolute overwhelming experience. From that day forward, Veterans Day has always had more meaning for me (full blog post).

Myself at Arlington National Cemetery in 2003.


Thanks for reading today. It is still early, so if you have not thanked a veteran yet, you better get on it. Happy Veterans Day and God bless America. Don’t Blink.