Therapeutic Thursday Rundown

Tough times for our country. Yesterday was a lot to digest and I wasn’t interested in writing nor did I think it was appropriate to do so. Tonight I am writing because it is offering me some therapeutic relief and because I believe some people might want to read something that is on the lighter side. Here is my first Thursday Rundown of 2021…

Wrong – It just happened yesterday, but there are already enough articulate and passionate condemnations to keep someone busy for multiple lifetimes. Because I can’t really add anything else of unique value, let me say this about the storming of the U.S. Capitol Building: It was wrong. It was also very troubling and sickening. But at its very core it was just plain wrong. What else can I say?

My Favorite Christmas Gift – Chalk it up to my wife for once again finding me the perfect Christmas present. She gifted me a lap desk! For anyone who likes to write with pen and paper (like me) while relaxing on the couch, a lap desk is a must. These days they are more popular than ever with so many people working from home. Yes, they are perfect to rest your lap top on! Don’t worry Sid, this gift is going to get a lot of use.

I love this lap desk that Sid got me for Christmas.

The Best Birthday Gift – If you are ever in a bind for a birthday gift, consider sticking some scratch offs in a card. I wrote that last sentence one year ago when I described my go-to envelope stuffer. You see, scratch offs are perfect for men and women, they don’t need to be wrapped, and they are readily attainable at any local gas station or grocery store. Need more evidence for why they are so great? Read my blog post from Jan. 7, 2020.

Scratch offs make great birthday gifts

Bets on the Next Host – It looks like the guy I was pulling for to replace Alex Trebek won’t get the opportunity—at least not permanently. Ken Jennings was a favorite to take over hosting duties on Jeopardy but a couple of social media controversies might have squashed his ambitions. Although he will still guest host, the gig will likely go to a bigger name with a news background. Katie Couric is reportedly a legitimate candidate for the coveted position. This L.A. Times article does a good job of speculating about other candidates and explaining why Jennings won’t get the job.

Ken Jennings is a very, very smart man but most likely won’t be landing the Jeopardy hosting gig (photo courtesy of USA Today).

Holiday Wrap Up – We were blessed to safely spend the holidays with Sid’s family. Although we hosted her parents in October, Sidney had not seen her sisters and their spouses/kids for seven months; for me, nine months. Most of our time was spent catching up and playing board games. We made some great memories and ate some really good food. I am extremely thankful for my Myrtle Beach family.

The cousins had plenty of time to hang out at the end of December and start of January.

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Please pray for peace. Thanks for reading what has been a therapeutic exercise for me. Don’t Blink.

Bracing For What 2021 Will Bring

Well, almost four days into 2021 and so far so good. I say that of course as a pandemic continues to ravage our world. No, the coronavirus didn’t disappear when the clock struck midnight last Friday. But perhaps we are at least moving in the right direction?

2021 is here. What will the next 52 weeks bring?

In terms of 2021, I have found myself going back and forth between two different gut instincts. On one hand I am cautiously optimistic. I hope that the vaccine will be distributed globally to a large percentage of the population and we will turn a major corner. It can happen…it needs to happen. But what if it doesn’t happen? Or, what if it does, but mutations take us all back to square one? Thus, I have to be honest and say that I feel a little uneasy about this year too.

Of course, whatever direction the pandemic trends is where the lives of millions will trend as well—both directly and indirectly. Whether from a health, economic, or social perspective, this virus is ruthless. That is one lesson we learned in 2020 that we soon won’t forget. It goes without saying, this year depends entirely on what happens with the coronavirus.

As I mentioned, I do feel a little uneasy about 2021 and I am sure many others feel the same way. But we can’t let this natural feeling paralyze us with fear or prevent us from doing our own personal best to make this year successful. Yes, the coronavirus can sweep the rug from under us but we still need to proceed with the mindset that hard work, creativity, and kindness can still yield a bountiful harvest—even during what will be a challenging year.

There are things we can’t control. At any given moment a major curve ball could be thrown our way. In 2021, we need to step up to the plate ready to handle that curve but also ready to hit the fast ball out of the park. May we all have a positive 2021. Don’t Blink.

2020: Wow

This special end of year blog post is dedicated to Sidney, my wife. Her selflessness and leap of faith made this unforgettable year possible.
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So, um, did anything happen in 2020?

Wow, people. What can I say? Best of luck to the next nine years of the decade because I don’t know if any of them will come close to topping 2020—for better and for worse.

In a pre-pandemic, early 2020 society we had the extremely good fortune of welcoming Beau Thomas Reser into the world without strict social distancing measures in place. Conversely, we didn’t have the good fortune of taking Beau home shortly after his birth. A 10-day stay at the McLeod Regional Medical Center NICU in Florence, South Carolina, tested us more than we imagined. But with talented medical professionals and the will of God, we had Beau home with us by mid-February.

Beau’s birth was our highlight of 2020

In early March, an 18-wheeler pulled up to our house and packed up our belongings. A couple days later I would be on a plane to Spokane to a start a job at Washington State University. Sidney and the kids stayed behind with her parents for what was to be a month-long stay to let Beau mature a bit before making the long flight.

My plane landed in snowy Spokane in March.

In mid-March, I reported to my office on campus in Pullman. It would be my only day on the premises. That afternoon we received the directive to work from home after the governor locked down the state. I have been working remotely ever since. The coronavirus made it necessary for Sid to delay travel, pushing their arrival date out west to Mother’s Day weekend.

I was all smiles my first (and only) day on campus.

During the summer we moved into our new home in the Spokane Valley. Sid, Sloan Beau, and I developed a routine and really started to enjoy our new way of life. The summer was filled with picnics, cookouts, and parks.

Many summer days were spent at parks in the Spokane area.

The pleasant summer nights transitioned to the crisp autumn mornings that the inland northwest is famous for. Beau conquered helmet therapy, Sloan started school at St. Mary, Sidney found a supportive community at the gym, and I continued to enjoy each day at my new job.

This was Sloan on her first day of school.

As we entered the final quarter of the year, Sid’s parents came to visit. Halloween was the best yet as Sloan trick-or-treated with her cousins. Sid and I pushed each other during a six-week weight loss challenge. For the first time in a long time, my parents had the blessing of having all their kids and grandchildren at the same Thanksgiving table…and again for an early Christmas celebration in mid-December. We then capped off the year in the same place it started—Myrtle Beach—surrounded by Sid’s incredible family.

Sloan as Poppy and Beau as a pumpkin during Halloween 2020.

In a year that was filled with so many major events, two big F’s really helped us…

Our faith kept us grounded and sane throughout the past 12 months. The power of prayer helped us a lot, whether it was in the delivery room, by Beau’s bedside in the NICU, or just daily petitions as the pandemic raged. In early March, Sid was welcomed into the Catholic Church and Beau was baptized at the same ceremony. It was a beautiful morning as both our families and the St. Andrew community shared in the special day.

On February 27, Beau was baptized and Sid was welcomed into the Catholic Church at St. Andrew Parish in Myrtle Beach

The support we received from our Myrtle Beach parish made it hard to leave when we moved but we found another fabulous faith community at St. Mary in the Spokane Valley. Not only did it become our home for mass and the sacraments but it also became Sloan’s home for her education as we enrolled her in the preschool program. Sid and I also joined a Catholic young adult group that has been great.

Sloan is now a student at St. Mary Catholic School and completed its fun run during the fall.

The second MAJOR component that has helped us tremendously through the year is family. We spent the first three months and the last two weeks of 2020 with Sid’s family. We were so grateful for their help and support as we prepared to move. It wasn’t easy for them or us—saying goodbye was extremely difficult—but they were so gracious assisting us during such a stressful time. Ending the year with Sid’s parents, sisters, significant others, nephews, and niece sure has been nice. Like Sidney says, it is like we picked up right where we left off in terms of dynamic. I sure am thankful to have them in our corner.

It has been such a great time spending the past several days with Sid’s family, including Russell and Harrison, our niece and nephew.

My family pulled out the red carpet and did everything humanely possible to provide the four of us with a smooth transition when we arrived in Spokane. My parents opened their home, provided endless childcare, encouraged us to take date nights, and offered so much more to help us adjust. Being able to spend more time with my siblings was another bright spot. We are all really close and the amount of time the three of us and our spouses got to hang out together was extremely rewarding. But perhaps even better than that was seeing Sloan become best friends with her cousins, Mikayla and Johnny. 2020 was definitely the sweetest of homecomings.

It has been so nice living in the same state as my family.

Of course this year would not have been possible without the support, flexibility, and resolve of my incredible wife. Sidney dropped everything and took a gigantic step out of familiarity to let us pursue an opportunity. I can’t say enough about her bravery and selflessness. There was never a doubt who this blog post would be dedicated to. Love you, Sid!

I am thankful and indebted to Sid.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the cloud that hung over 2020. A ruthless pandemic took hold of the world and made this year miserable for millions. Our family was lucky in that we just faced minor inconveniences. We are thankful for our good fortune but know that it is not a given that 2021 will be as kind. To those who suffered in 2020, I hope tomorrow brings the start of healing.

In closing, I am anticipating a quieter year in 2021…and I am fine with that. We had enough excitement in 2020 to last us a few years. Thank you to everyone who either played a role in our year or lived vicariously through it. See you in the new year. Don’t Blink.

My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2020

During a year that saw the cancelation of so much, somehow Don’t Blink managed to stay afloat. That’s right, this 9-year-old blog continued to grind out posts over the past 12 months. Why Brent? Hasn’t this world suffered enough in 2020?

All joking aside, writing provided a release for me during a year that was ripe with COVID anxiety and an aggressively toxic political news cycle. Because I managed to feed my blogging appetite in 2020, it means that I am in position to present my seventh annual Big Blog Post. This is my favorite entry of the year when I look back at what I wrote over the past 52 weeks, tab my 10 favorite posts, and rank them.

In 2020 I published 172 posts, up from the 165 posts  I wrote in 2019 but a far cry from the 253 posts I wrote during my peak year of 2014. Considering we added a new baby to our family along with other major life events in 2020, I won’t get down on myself for this year’s blogging output. 

As I say every year, the list is mostly reflective of my personal opinion. However, audience feedback and blog post traffic are always considered when making my final decisions. Thanks for reading in 2020 and let’s get this countdown started…

10. Beau’s Newborn Photos (November 23) – Not promising anything, but Beau might be leading AND ending the countdown this year. Not too long after Beau arrived home from the NICU, my friend and former co-worker Judy Johns came over to take newborn photos. Judy is the director of photography at Coastal Carolina University and one of the best photographers you will ever meet. In this particular post I showcase some of my favorite images from her beautiful work.

Judy’s work is incredible and I enjoyed the opportunity to include some of my favorite images in this blog post.

9. The Joys of Working From Home (August 12) – I am always careful to paint the pandemic in any type of favorable light. However, if there was one result from COVID-19 that turned out pretty well for us it was the directive to work remotely. In this blog post I reflected on what a joy it has been to work upstairs while my wife and kids are safe/content downstairs. From enjoying the early mornings to eating daily lunch with my kids to simply walking down a flight of stairs when the work day is over, this post conveyed the joys of working under my own roof.

Working from home in 2020 has been nice.

8. March 2020: I Will Never Forget (March 31) – In March, the world changed. COVID-19 introduced itself on a mainstream level and life as we knew it took a hike. But our family didn’t need the added pandemic to make it a crazy month. We packed up our house, I moved across the country, Sloan celebrated her third birthday, and I started a new job. In this blog post I looked back at a month we will never forget, beginning with seemingly normal daddy-daughter dates and ending with a bizarre earthquake. March was CRAZY and I am glad I documented it.

Before I left for Washington, I had an early birthday celebration for Sloan.

7. The Weight Loss Challenge (November 23) – During the fall, Sid and I decided to go outside our comfort zones and participate in a weight loss challenge sponsored by our gym. For six weeks we went on diets and pushed ourselves…almost to the point of insanity. This blog post traces our weight loss journey and the measures we took to be successful. In the end, we both lost weight and I even won the competition. I also come to grips with my previous unhealthy methods of dieting.

The Weight Loss Challenge proved to be successful for both of us.

6. They’re Here! (May 12) – I am not going to lie, it was hard going eight weeks without my wife and kids. I literally counted down the days until their arrival. Thus, you can imagine how ecstatic I was the afternoon they landed on Spokane soil. In this blog post I wrote about feeling whole again while also recognizing the surreality of it all. I described that first special weekend together while also being frank about the sadness of saying goodbye to Sid’s parents. It is a blog post of many different emotions and new beginnings!

It was so great to get my best friend back!

5. Until Next Time, Myrtle Beach (March 18) – I moved to South Carolina solely for a job at CCU. However, during my time out east, I received so much more than a paycheck. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the Grand Strand community and by that time I had fallen in love with a girl too. In this blog post I paid homage to what made Myrtle Beach so special. From my new family to my church to my gym to Sloan’s daycare, I wrote about how appreciative I was for the people and places that made such a positive influence on me during my time as a transplant.

Was so fortunate to become part of this great family during my time in Myrtle Beach.

4. Feeling Symmetrical (November 10) – Last month, Beau shed the corrective helmet he wore pretty much all day for three straight months. When his headgear was removed, he had a completely symmetrical head, a complete transformation from its shape in July. In this blog post I was able to show before/after photos, explain the intricacies of helmet therapy, describe the thrill of watching Beau progress, and reveal how the outside world reacted to a baby boy who wore a hard hat. It is kind of weird, it seems like forever ago that Beau had to wear his helmet but I am thankful for this blog post because it won’t let us forget the interesting challenge of correcting his misshaped head.

This was Beau’s last day in his helmet.

3. My Top 10 Favorite Moments Working for Coastal Carolina University (February 19) – During my nearly six years at Coastal Carolina University, I had the opportunity to do some really cool things. After I announced my departure from CCU, I remembered some of my defining moments as a Chanticleer. This post pretty much summarizes what a fun, diverse, and busy tenure I had in #TEALnation. This post allowed me to reflect quite a bit and I was happy to include so many of my former co-workers in it. I would write one final CCU wrap-up post but this countdown piece is my favorite.

I had some really good times working at CCU.

2. Pumped to be a Coug (March 1) – With pride and relief, I announced my new job via my blog on March 1. After keeping tight-lipped about the opportunity, it felt great to finally reveal that I had accepted a position at Washington State University. In the post I was also able to explain what I would be doing and why Sid and I decided to take the offer (so glad we did). As I re-read the post, the excitement that I wrote with brings me back to that entire crazy post-Beau’s birth/pre-pandemic period when we were preparing to move across the country. This post rates high for both significance and vividness that it is my runner up in 2020.

We took this photo for the “Pumped to be a Coug” blog post.

1. Beau Meets World (February 17) – This isn’t just my top post of 2020—it might be my top post in the history of this blog. I tried to be raw and thorough as I chronicled the emotional 11-day journey from the moment Sidney’s doctor decided to operate to the Sunday afternoon that Beau was released from the NICU at McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, South Carolina.

The post is special to me because it displays Sid’s courage and Beau’s grit. It also conveys the important role that faith played throughout the saga. Tough setbacks are confronted and glorious triumphs are celebrated. It isn’t saying much because I consider myself a mere novice with the pen, but from a writing aspect I think this is one of my finer pieces. But even if most serious writers consider Beau Meets World to be garbage, it sure means a lot to Sid and I.

An 11-day journey of emotional twists and turns is chronicled in my top blog post of the year, “Beau Meets World.”

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Thank you to all my readers for supporting Don’t Blink throughout 2020. I can’t promise how productive I will be with my blog in 2021 but I do plan to write at least some. Tomorrow I will close out the year with my annual wrap up post and then I will be looking entirely forward to January 1. Thanks again. Don’t Blink.

My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2019
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2018
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2015
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014

Santa Wrote to Sloan!

This year, Santa had decided to contract with Airway Heights Parks & Recreation and the Kiwanis Club to help deliver his mail to the North Pole. It turned out to be a pretty convenient arrangement. Local children could write a letter, parents could fill out a form, and a little bit of Christmas magic would take care of the rest.

The form that we filled out (and some stickers for decorating) that accompanied Sloan’s letter to the North Pole.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Sloan sat down and wrote a letter to Santa. Well, I physically wrote the letter but she told me exactly what to say. She then proceeded to draw a picture for Santa and decorate the envelope with stickers. When Monday rolled around, we dropped the letter in the mailbox.

Sloan writing a letter to Santa.

Today, we had a surprise in our mailbox. Santa WROTE BACK!

Sloan holding her Santa letter seconds after taking it out of our mailbox.

Sloan opened the envelope with enthusiasm and anticipation.

Sloan opening up her Santa letter with a big smile on her face.

When I read her the letter that Santa had penned, we were both overjoyed with the detail and personality contained in the correspondence. I mean, honestly, Santa doesn’t go this in depth with everyone, right?

Go ahead and read the letter that Sloan received from Santa. A great deal of effort was put forth writing it.

It goes without saying that Santa made a great choice partnering with Airway Heights Parks & Recreation and the Kiwanis Club because the support they provided was superb. Word on the street is that the organizations were flooded with nearly 100 letters this year and had to work extra hard to provide all those children with letters that rivaled the detail that Sloan had in hers.

When this arrived in the mail, it made a little girl’s day.

The Santa letter was just another snowflake in Sloan’s winter cap of what has been a magical holiday season. Special thanks to Airway Heights Parks & Rec and the Kiwanis Club for going above and beyond. Don’t Blink.

Christmas Humility

We have watched a lot of Christmas movies this month. However, the show we watched last night with Sloan was the perfect way to start the Christmas week.

With Beau asleep, the three of us sat on the couch in the living room and watched “The Little Drummer Boy.” It is an old school, stop-motion animated film but it is beautiful. Sloan sat through the entire thing completely engaged. She enjoyed pointing out the star whenever it appeared on screen and telling us what it meant. The triumphant ending scene at the manger is the perfect depiction of what Christmas is all about and worth the time of us all to sit down and watch.

Last night, we watched “The Little Drummer Boy.” It was a great reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.

The one theme that “The Little Drummer Boy” masterfully teaches is humility. Even though the boy was poor and had no material possessions to give baby Jesus, he did have his musical talent. When he played his heart out on his drum, the boy gave the sincerest gift of all.

This week, let’s try to be humble. Many of us might already be close to that point with the hardships brought on by COVID-19. But for those of us spared (so far) by the pandemic, let us keep the manger in mind. It is important to celebrate the reason for the season and a 1968 television special can be a great reminder of what that is. Don’t Blink.

Holiday Cheer Thursday Rundown

We are mere single digit days away from Christmas! How are you doing with your holiday shopping? If you are anything like me, your time might be better spent on Amazon as opposed to Don’t Blink. Well, at least I can make it quick for you. Let’s get started with our five topics…

Christmas Cheer – Another holiday tradition our parents introduced to us was something they called “Christmas Cheer.” On a couple different random nights close to Christmas, my mom and dad would gather us around the tree in the living room and serve us hot chocolate. They would dim the lights and play Christmas carols from the boom box. It was always a relaxing, festive, and slightly magical experience. Sidney and I have introduced the tradition to Sloan and she is hooked. For the past several days since we first did it last Thursday night, she will come up to us and ask, “Can we have Christmas cheer again?”

My cup of hot chocolate from last Thursday’s Christmas Cheer session.

Favorite Christmas Movies – I know you are curious so I suppose I will give you what you want. I have five favorite Christmas movies and this is how I rank them…#5 – “A Christmas Vacation” (Clark is hilarious), #4 – “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” (first Christmas movie I ever remember watching), #3 – “A Christmas Carol” (I love all versions), #2 – “Home Alone” (very underrated musical score), #1 – “Miracle on 34th List” (the old one). If you really want to pick my brain on these choices, I gave full analysis two years ago. Hope you watch a some of your favorite Christmas favorites this weekend!

Pull up your Santa chair and let’s watch some Christmas movies!

While on the Subject – A Twitter account I follow posted this rather intriguing question: Which movie’s version of The North Pole do you want to visit the most? (“Elf,” “Polar Express, “Fred Claus,” “The Santa Claus) Although I thought it was a creative question, I didn’t think twice about my choice. THE POLAR EXPRESS! In my humble opinion, “The Polar Express” nailed it with both its depiction of the North Pole and Santa Claus. The movie really captures the magic of Christmas that many of us had as kids. 

Interesting but easy question.

Holiday Winner – Last week we had our WSU University Marketing and Communications virtual holiday party. The staff members in charge of the party did a superb job as they put together a Zoom gathering that was about as good as you can get. A scavenger hunt, holiday trivia, a recipe book, and a discussion about Christmas traditions all made the party engaging and fun. Another component of the morning was a costume contest. Yours truly pulled out the elf costume and won the award for “Most Festive.” The social media people always have the most fun!

I won “Most Festive” at our office virtual holiday party.

A New Special Ornament – You won’t find a school that does better arts and crafts than St. Mary. Sloan has brought home some really awesome projects over the past few months. On Tuesday she surprised us with our new favorite ornament. The two candy canes on the bulb form a heart and the card that came with it was beyond precious.

If you look closely you can see the reflection of Sloan and Sid!

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Okay, get back to Amazon now. If you need my address, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Have a great rest of your week. Don’t Blink.

My Recommended Gift for the 2020 Holiday Season

For many years, my dad’s side of the family would participate in a unique Christmas Eve tradition. After we had all arrived at whatever house we were celebrating at, we would draw numbers. When we scooped out a slip of paper from the hat, we all crossed our fingers we would pick something low.

More than 20 (we had a BIG family) picture frames that we had decorated prior to our celebration were displayed on a table. Each one was adorned with “Reser Family Christmas ______” (insert year) and decorated with a seasonal theme. The person who drew #1 would take first pick of a frame. Then the person who drew #2 would go, followed by #3, and so on.

Once we had our frames, we would all get our pictures taken with a Polaroid camera. You could choose to take your photo wherever and with whoever you wanted. We would then place the photo in our frame, creating a precious keepsake from that holiday season for years to come.

One of our “Reser” frames from 1997.

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For the past two years, I have designated an inexpensive “Brent’s Gift of the Year” for my readers to consider. In 2018 I tabbed an LED cinema lightbox as my suggestion and last year I heralded a blanket. This year I am encouraging my readers to gift someone a framed photo.

Framed photos are thoughtful and timeless

I don’t think there is anything that looks so good relative to its actual price than a meaningful photo encapsulated in a nice frame. At just a few bucks for the print and a similar amount for the frame, you can give a loved one something that they will keep in their living room or on their dresser for a long time.

A picture conveys emotion and thought. The sentiment is amplified tenfold when placed in a frame. Ask someone whether they would prefer a material item or a cherished memory and take a guess on which way they will lean. In my opinion, not only is a framed photo a powerful and inexpensive gift, it is a very underrated one as well.

A framed photo is a sentimental gift.

What special moment would you like your family member or friend to relive every day? A tropical vacation? Wedding day? Birth of a child? Baptism? Sporting event? Take your pick and memorialize it. Trust me, the recipient will appreciate it.

Another classic Reser Family Christmas photo/frame–just with my parents. You can’t go wrong with a framed photo, just make sure that the orientation of both the photo and frame is aligned correctly.

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This holiday season, try to give at least one person a framed photo. Except for the hairstyles and wardrobes in the picture, this gift will never go out of style. Don’t Blink.

A TikTok-Inspired Holiday Video

Click here to watch the 2020 #WSU Holiday Video

One December tradition that COVID couldn’t wipe away was the higher education institutional holiday video. You know, the videos where your favorite university wishes you season’s greetings in a sentimental/funny/ creative way?

During my time at Coastal Carolina University I had the pleasure of being involved with the annual holiday video whether it entailed me being in it, conceptualizing it, or just promoting it. It was always a fun project so I appreciated the opportunity to assist with Washington State University’s 2020 video.

“Illumination” was the theme of the 2020 WSU Holiday Video.

Although a pandemic couldn’t halt university holiday videos, it did limit what could be done (say goodbye to large festive group shots!). But could new limitations perhaps open new avenues for creativity? At WSU, the answer was yes.

We debuted our 2020 holiday video via our President’s Twitter account. Creativity played a big role this year.

In a year that many across the world might consider “dark,” we wanted to show how WSU was able to offer some light. We settled on the theme of illumination and decided to express it in a way that our student audience could relate to.

Our holiday video was successful because it appealed to all audiences. However, it especially resonated with students because it actually used students and it utilized a format popular with GenZ.

This is a bold claim as I have not watched an overabundance of other university holiday videos yet, but I think we might be the only ones to produce ours based off a TikTok theme. That’s right, the WSU 2020 holiday video is definitely TikTok-inspired…we even shot it vertically. Drawing motivation from the infamous Pass the Brush Challenge and other TikTok videos that pass objects off screen to other participants, we decided to go with something similar.

We had numerous students who appreciated our TikTok-inspired theme and who filmed clips to be included in the holiday video.

The basis of our video showcases WSU students dropping a holiday light from one screen to the next. The students catch a non-illuminated light, react to it, and then—magic—it illuminates! The light is then dropped to the next participant.

The video centers around people catching a holiday light, illuminating it, and passing it on.

The video kicks off with our mascot, Butch, illuminating the first light. It culminates with our First Lady catching the final light and passing it to the President. He then screws it into a string of lights and with a snap from the First Lady, the string and the state of Washington illuminates. Throughout the video, a voiceover from the President recognizes that it has been a difficult year but credits the WSU community for creating its own brightness.

Butch kicked off this year’s holiday video.

Our social team had a seat at the brainstorming table when developing the illumination theme. Our primary responsibility was to recruit holiday video participants by promoting the opportunity on social media. In just an hour or so after posting the callout we were inundated with willing Cougs. We sent out Christmas lights to the people (mostly students) who expressed interest along with directions on how to film their portion of the video. Our volunteers didn’t disappoint. Within a week we had received more than enough material to hand over to our video team.

Our video professionals did an incredible job piecing the video together and adding the illumination effect to each Christmas light. A talented staff member who writes for our magazine penned the President’s voiceover that really hit home. One of our designers built the video into an email to send out to the WSU family. It was a true team effort by our University Marketing and Communications department and it paid off.

The video all comes together at the end when President Schulz screws in a missing light and Dr. Noel Schulz, our First Lady, illuminates the string with a snap of the fingers.

The video was a major success. It was received extremely well because of its uniqueness and natural flow. As of Monday night, it has been viewed more than 40,000 times on social media and I am yet to see one negative comment on any platform. During an extremely tough year, it feels good that this project has given people a reason to smile. Don’t Blink.

Peanut Brittle Thursday Rundown

Let me wish a pleasant December evening to everyone who has stumbled upon this random corner of the internet. I hope to feed your appetite with five random topics. Let’s get started…

Christmas Activity #11… – On Tuesday night, I shared with you 10 Christmas-related activities we have done with Sloan this month. Let me add one more. We have started to play a “Spot the Grinch” game when we are driving. This year there seems to be an overabundance of blow up Grinches in front yards. Since Sloan likes the Grinch movies and because she is learning to count to higher numbers, we will keep track of the green blow up characters we pass while out on the road. Sloan loves to spot them a 15 minute drive in Spokane will usually yield about 10 of them.

This blow up Grinch is actually right across the street from us so when we play the game, we immediately start off at 1.

Poster Rack – Something about this just gives me the feels. Before I would buy posters at college, I would browse them while at ShopKo. While my mom shopped I would curve my boredom by looking at WWF superstars, superheroes, and the occasional teeny bopper music star. I distinctly remember the anticipation of seeing who would be in the next laminated frame. Good times.

It was easy to pass the time here.

Sister and Brother – This was a totally nonstaged photo I took of Sloan and Beau early this morning. They both found their way to the Christmas tree and admired it together for a couple moments. How can you go wrong with a sister and brother soaking in the beauty of Yuletide lights?

Sloan and Beau sat together by the tree early this morning and I made sure to document it from my spot on the couch.

True Story – The below tweet from the U.S. Postal Service has been making the rounds since it was published yesterday. Sure it is cute, but it is also very true. I find sending out Christmas cards to be festive, fun, and therapeutic. But it is more about the recipient than the sender. Receiving a holiday card can make someone’s day. Imagine if you send out 20 cards—that would equate to a lot of positive energy. If you are on the fence about doing Christmas cards this year, I say go for it. Not only will you bring cheer to others but you will also be supporting a struggling USPS.

Send out Christmas cards this year.

Shoutout to Coastal Football – Last Saturday could not have been more perfect for my old colleagues at Coastal Carolina University. Everything aligned on a day that saw the campus host College Gameday and then pull off a major upset win over previously unbeaten BYU. Sports business analysts estimated the College Gameday exposure alone at $20 million. CCU is in line to play a major bowl game on New Year’s Day. For an institution that has had its bumps in the road in 2020, there couldn’t be a sweeter way to end the year.

The Coastal football team defeated BYU to improve to 10-0.

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That will wrap it up for this Thursday Rundown. These December weekends can be so much fun. Make the most of this upcoming one! Don’t Blink.