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NFI and Life of Dad Team Up with Honda for #DadsDoingGood

Video series will feature Dads getting help from the 2014 Honda Odyssey as they conduct child-centered community service projects across the greater Los Angeles area.   

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) and Life of Dad (LoD) have partnered with Honda on the “Dads Doing Good” campaign, which will feature groups of dads conducting child-centered community-service projects.   

DadsGoingGood500X500Throughout August, videos will be posted online highlighting various projects in which Dads utilize the 2014 Honda Odyssey in their efforts to assist and support community-based organizations serving children and families. 

The first video shows three dads using the Odyssey as a “mobile library.” They load up the Odyssey with hundreds of books and surprise preschool children in their school’s playground. After reading stories to the kids, hundreds of books were donated to the school.

Can't view the video? Click here.

Other videos will feature similar uplifting stories. The hashtag #DadsDoingGood will be used to engage in conversations online about the importance of father involvement and civic engagement.   

The overall purpose of the campaign is to show that when Dads become actively involved in their communities, great things can happen. Honda is providing the vehicles to make these jobs easier through feature-rich vehicles like the new Odyssey.   

“We are extremely grateful to the team at Honda, who has allowed us to utilize the 2014 Honda Odyssey, in the support of such a great cause – assisting families and kids,” said Life of Dad Founder and CEO, Tom Riles.  “We are just as happy to continue our partnership with NFI, a great organization and resource to Dads around the world.”  

“Given the serious father-absence crisis in our nation today, it is critical that we share stories celebrating the good that dads do in communities across the country,” said Vincent DiCaro, Vice President of Development and Communication at NFI. “Thanks to Honda, NFI and Life of Dad are able to do this in a ‘big way’ that highlights Honda’s commitment to helping families and communities live better lives.”  

Visit our Dads Doing Good page for more information and follow #DadsDoingGood on Twitter and Facebook for updates. 

Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

NFI and LoD partnered with Honda for this campaign. The Odysseys were returned to Honda after the videos—and all dads involved wept.

'Despicable' Daddy-Daughter Trip at Universal Orlando: Minion Mayhem & VIP Experience

A three-day weekend that involves flying with your six-year-old daughter to Universal Orlando for a special Despicable Me 2 and VIP Experience weekend is time well spent.

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru

Bella and I connected over the weekend like never before. We attended a special screening of the upcoming Despicable Me 2 (in theaters July 3!), rode "Minion Mayhem", went on a scavenger hunt across both parks and were given a special VIP Experience of Universal Orlando.

First, there were "Blue Men"... From the paint, colors and audience interaction, I enjoyed seeing Bella's amazement at all the interesting visuals of the show.

After the show, we met one of the "Blue Men." Bella was scared and wasn't excited to have her picture taken with him. Noticing Bella's tentative stares, the Blue Man slowly walked over to us, and without a word, slowly took my iPhone from my hand and proceeded to snap a selfie. This may be something the Blue Men do every night, but for Bella and I, we felt like rockstars as we left the show!

Here's the pic...this Blue Man is not only an on-stage talent, he's pretty good with an iPhone too.

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, blue man group,

The Blue Man is actually holding my iPhone for this picture!

Minion Mayhem
This ride starts in Gru’s living room! Gru recruits you for one of his latest villian experiments. This experiment? He wants to turn you into a Minion!

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Here's Bella standing in Gru's living room!

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, minion mayhem,You wait in line in Gru's living room. The ride hasn't started yet!

After surviving "Minion training" you are now a minion. Margo, Edith and Agnes' Adoption Anniversay is coming up and the girls aren't sure Gru's remembers. I won't give away much of the ride; but know the storyline of Gru adopting the girls plays a major role. As a dad who works for NFI, I was blown away by the creative and powerful adoption theme in this ride.

After the Minion Mayhem ride, Bella fell in love...

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Scavenger Hunt
Bella and I were on a mission! We received our clues and with iPhone in hand, we set off to find our treasures. The clues from our hunt took us all across Universal Orlando and Universal Islands of Adventure.

We gathered clues at Crusty Land, found the Transformers Allspark and much-much-much more across the both theme parks. As you can see, we are quite the dynamic duo!

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VIP Experience
We were treated like rockstars during the Universal Orlando VIP Experience. We didn't wait in a single line. We were personally escorted with a tour-guide on a walking tour of both parks. And just to brag, we had exclusive backstage access and learned all kinds of interesting stories from our tour guide! Note: this was Bella's first-ever trip to a theme park. She is now spoiled and doesn't yet know about standing and waiting in lines!

On the VIP Experience, we rode Shrek 4-D, where the only thing I remember is getting donkey snot sprayed on me...like three times. Donkey snot is cold, in case you're wondering.

The Spider-Man ride is amazing. All Bella talked about after it was the flames and how she felt the heat from the fire! I honestly raised my 3-D glasses a couple of times during the ride to see what was a screen and what wasn't. 

Our adventure took us through Dr. Seuss Land too! The Cat in the Hat™ ride takes you through the pages of Dr. Seuss's great book. You'll spin like crazy as Thing One and Thing Two make a mess and try to clean up before mom gets home!

We rode The High in the Sky Suess Trolly Train Ride and the Seuss Caro-Suess-El, too! 

And as you can see from the pictures below, Bella met Big Time Rush!

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Transformers: The Ride 3-D
This ride wasn't for Bella...this ride was for me! As a boy who grew up pretending to be Optimus Prime (yes, I just dated myself!). It was awesome to ride with the Autobots against the Decepticons. I was surprised when Universal announced we could have a private ride of this new adventure before it was to open this summer. This ride did not disappoint. I honestly couldn't tell what was real and what was the 3-D screen. And the simulated speed of flying through the air and working with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee was something the 10-year-old boy inside of me wants to do again!

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, minion mayhem, vip tour, transformers the ride,

I mentioned Miss Bella fell in love after riding Minion Mayhem earlier. Well, The Sanders Family is happy to announce a new member of our family: Fluffy Unicorn Sanders! Please know Fluffy Unicorn is well taken care of! She can been seen below in our return luggage—my bag to be exact, at the hotel for a late night of cards (Despicable Me cards!) and buckled safely for our return flight! 

Since returning from Florida, Fluffy Unicorn has been busy with her new life in DC. She has camped out with Girl Scouts and enjoys multiple snuggles per day and night. Fluffy Unicorn is currently spending the weekend with my parents in Tennessee. Fluffy Unicorn Sanders is a great addition to our family. We need only adopt an additional Fluffy Unicorn for Bella's younger sister, Gabby!

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This three-day daddy-daughter weekend was time well spentBella and I not only have the memories to look back on, but we have the pictures and Despicable Me swag to prove it! I am grateful to Universal for the opportunity to be a rockstar dad for my Bella. Thank you, Universal, for understanding the importance of family and fatherhood. 

Be sure to check out trailers of the upcoming Despicable Me 2 in theaters July 3 and follow the minions online.

So, how are you and your kids spending the summer?
 

 

This post is part 2 of 2 of my daddy-daughter weekend visiting Universal Orlando for a very special Despicable Me 2 experience. Post 1 covered the movie and special "Despicable" parties. This post covers Minion Mayhem and Universal Orlando VIP Experience. 

'Despicable' Daddy-Daughter Trip at Universal Orlando: Despicable Me 2 Adventure

When Universal contacted me about flying my daughter and I to Florida, it took me seconds to respond in the affirmative. Once all was squared away and I knew we were flying to Florida, I had to tell my six-year-old daughter. But how much should I tell her?

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After announcing plans for our Despicable Me 2 weekend at a hotel—I realized I needed to be careful so as not to give too many details. To keep the surprises, I decided to give Bella one clue per day leading up to our big weekend. Her questions clearly reveal what was on her six-year-old mind that particular day. My answers are in parenthesis:

  1. How are we getting there? Car or plane? (Plane)
  2. What state is it in? (Florida) 
  3. Do they have oranges there? Maybe like, an orange tree?! (Yes)
  4. Can I take golf clubs and tennis racquet? (No) 
  5. Does Florida have plant & coconut trees?! Can we make a coconut drink?! (Yes)
  6. Will there be tv in our hotel? (Yes)
  7. Can we stay up all night? (Yes) 
  8. Will there be soda? (Yes)
  9. May I drink soda while there? (Yes) 
  10. Does Florida have poison ivy? (Yes)
  11. Does Florida have blue skies? Is it rainy? (Yes)
  12. Does Florida have Popsicles? (Yes)
  13. Does Florida have spooky houses? (Yes, probably.)
  14. Does Florida have Despicable Me costumes or statues? (Yes) 
  15. Does Florida have showers? (Yes)
  16. Does Florida have toilets? (Yes)
  17. Does Florida have any flowers? (Yes)
  18. Does Florida have any pizza? (Yes)
  19. Does Florida have any birthstone stores? (I'm not sure—probably.)
  20. Does Florida have any palm trees? (Yes) 
  21. Does Florida have any water? (Yes, most likely.)
  22. Does Florida have dirt? (Yes)
  23. Does Florida have any leaves? (Yes, bunches of them.)
  24. Does Florida have any big leaves? (Yes, lots.)
  25. Does Florida have people? (Yes, lots.)
  26. Does Florida have water bottles? (Yes)
As you can see, this "26 Questions" game was the perfect plan! I was able to give her some information, but the entire weekend was still a surprise to Bella. She simply knew we were flying in a plane to Florida, watching Despicable Me 2 and staying in a hotel. That's pretty much it. Everything that follows was a surprise! Yay for parenting secrets!

We first found Florida on our map, Orlando to be exact:
IMG 4670 resized 600Then, we packed. Ever packed with a six-year-old? Yeah, it's fun. Bell packed as if she wanted daddy to get frisked. She wanted to take her collection of 50 state quarters and upward of 15 fluffy bears. I managed to get the fluffy bear count to three. Then came the pixie dust. Yes, pixie dust. Why fly to Florida and not have glitter upon arrival? That's how we roll. 
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After being frisked, we made it to the plane on time. A nice woman moved to let Bell have the window seat and all. Bella can give mean looks:
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We arrived in Florida at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel (only the best for us!). This "Minion Basket" greeted us in our room and we were handed these (VIP badges):
despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gruThen, we were whisked away to the Despicable Me 2 premiere at Universal Studios where very large popcorns and sodas awaited. We enjoyed the film. I've never seen a human consume so much popcorn and drink without using the restroom... Bell had lots of soda too!
After the show, it was the after party. The Minion Party:
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We partied with characters from the film:

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The next morning, we had a sensible, Despicable Breakfast:

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We enjoyed a full day at Universal Studios, including a scavenger hunt and VIP Tour on Saturday (stay tuned for blog post 2!). Then, we attended a special reception...Despicable Dessert:

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal

Our daddy-daughter weekend was an absolute blast. The opportunity to hop on a plane and fly to Florida with Bella (not her first flight—but her first time traveling to Florida!) and spend quality time creating memories, just us two, was an experience Bella may never forget—I know I won't. Every time we see the "Universal" branding at the start of a film or advertisement; we will both be reminded of our 'despicable' trip. Thank you, Universal, for making me look like the best dad ever to my Bella.

Check out trailers of the upcoming Despicable Me 2 in theaters July 3 and be sure to follow all the "despicable" social online.

Despicable Me 2 Trailer

Despicable Me 2 Clip: Never Get Older 

 

About Despicable Me 2
Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s worldwide blockbuster Despicable Me entertained audiences around the globe in 2010, grossing more than $540 million and becoming the 10th-biggest animated motion picture in U.S. history. In summer 2013, get ready for more Minion madness in Despicable Me 2. Chris Meledandri and his acclaimed filmmaking team create an all-new comedy adventure featuring the return of super-villain Gru (Steve Carell), his adorable girls, the unpredictably hilarious Minions...and a host of new and outrageously funny characters. Release Date: July 3, 2013 Genre: 3D-CG comedy adventure Cast: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Steve Coogan, Ken Jeong, Elsie Fisher, Dana Gaier, Moises Arias Directed by: Chris Renaud & Pierre Coffin Written by: Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio

Follow Despicable Me 2

This post is part 1 of 2 of a daddy-daughter weekend visiting Universal Studios Florida for a very special Despicable Me 2 experience. Post 1 covers the movie and the "Despicable" parties at Universal Studios. Post 2 covers the "Minion Mayhem" ride and the Universal Studios Florida VIP experience

Treat Dad Like a Gentleman on Father's Day—Gifts from $19 to $500

“Being a man is a matter of age. Being a gentleman is a matter of choice.” —Edwin Louis Cole

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Don't know what to get dad this year?

Writing as a father myself, my family doesn't usually know what to get me either. But it's my fault, because I don't typically have anything I want—until now!

Dads, you can review this list and actually have something you want. Heck, after seeing these ideas, you may have several ideas to hint about for the next few holidays!

Moms and families wanting something special for dad? Check out our list for ideas to make this Father's Day special. But most importanly, treat the dad in your life like the gentleman he is.

We have your go-to list of great gift ideas. How do we know? Well, we're pretty much dad experts—at least as it involves to gifts we would like to receive!

Here are a few ideas to get you started making this Father's Day special. Most of the gifts mentioned below can be engraved and/or personalized and can be found at Red Envelope Gifts for Dads

I was sent the Leather Excursion Messenger Bag. I'll give you a review later—keep reading...

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First, know that Red Envelope has every dad-gentleman in your life covered—whether he's:

As I mentioned above, I recieved the Leather Excursion Bag a couple of weeks ago. I'm finding it to be a great bag for daily use. 

Excerpt from Red Envelope will make you want the bag: Inspired by wartime cavalry bags and map satchels, this everyday workhorse is crafted from the finest quality top-grain leather and develops a luxurious softness and patina over time. Pen, cell phone and wallet compartments keep the necessities in reach.

Allow me to share a few things that stood out about my experience with Red Envelope:

1. My gift was shipped very carefully and with a special, personalized letter.

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2. The smell of leather! When I opend the box to my new bag, the lovely smell of leather filled my office. I still smell manly after walking around with my bag for the last couple of weeks.

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3. The details and stitching are eye-catching.

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4. The bag has plenty of storage for everyday use.

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Some details on the bag:

  • crafted from soft, full-grain leather
  • antiqued bronze hardware
  • interior includes pen holders, 2 pockets large enough for a cell phone and a wallet
  • dust cover included
  • may be personalized with up to three characters
  • 50"L shoulder strap
  • 16 1/2" x 5 1/2" x 12"H
Whether a bag is on your list or not—be sure you treat the dad in your life like the gentleman he is—for these special and personalized gift ideas and many more—find Red Envelope on Twitter and Facebook.
 
 

Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

Disclosure: Red Envelope provided NFI with the bag and sponsored this post.

One Dad's Favorites from The Washington Auto Show

My wife recently surprised me with tickets to the Washington Auto Show in DC. Car shows have been a part of my life for many years. My dad has taken me to several classic car shows and I've watched him operate in the garage to restore several cars through the years. My dad will tell you he and I "worked together" to restore a 1970 Chevelle. Truth be told—he restored a Chevelle—I watched a Chevelle get restored! Nevertheless, I've always connected with my dad over cars; and my connection with cars is through my dad. If my dad didn't love cars—neither would I. 

Given my appreciation of cars, below are a few of my favorites from the Washington Auto Show. Scroll through the pictures and tell us in the comments: what was the first car you ever owned?

Toyota Sequoia
The Toyota Sequoia, which offers seating for up to eight in a full-size, full-capability sport-utility vehicle (SUV), adds new family-friendly entertainment features for 2013. The Sequoia debuts a Toyota-first Blu-Ray rear seat entertainment system, and 2013 also marks the first full year of Toyota Entune™ availability.

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Built on an exclusive platform that uses body-on-frame construction, the Toyota Sequoia features four-wheel independent suspension to help provide great ride quality, handling and straight-line control. The 2013 Sequoia is available in SR5, Limited and Platinum grades (shown in images), and all models for 2013 make the 381-hp 5.7-liter V8 standard. The Sequoia model line offers the choice of 2WD and 4WD. In select areas, Sequoia 4x4 models feature E85 Flex Fuel capability.

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Premium HDD Navigation with Entune® and JBL— includes 7-in. high-resolution touch-screen with split-screen capability and integrated backup camera display, AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, 14JBL® GreenEdgespeakers including subwoofer, SiriusXM Radio, HD Radio with iTunes® Tagging, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod® connectivity and control, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, advanced voice recognition, and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology. Aslo, there's two cup-holders in each of the back doors!

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Ford Explorer
The 2013 Ford Explorer is nice. To help you handle every road condition, there’s the available Intelligent 4WD with Terrain Management System.™ For your peace of mind, Curve Control, an enhancement to AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control,™ delivers enhanced control in turns. The Explorer offers up to seven-passenger seating capacity and seats that fold down for cargo space on demand – up to 80.7 cubic feet of space. While some manufactors are difficult to fold the seats for storage, the Explorer was simple and easy.

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The 2013 Explorer features some new and innovative features. For example, there are lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist to help keep you in control. Explorer features the world’s first automotive production inflatable rear safety belts that spread crash forces over more areas of the body compared the safety belts you have in your car!

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Okay, let's talk technology. Take, for example, available SYNC® with MyFord Touch® – the easy-to-use in-car connectivity system. With simple voice commands, you can make phone calls, choose music, control your climate and more without taking your eyes off the road. Another feature, the available voice-activated Navigation System with integrated SiriusXM Traffic and SiriusXM Travel Link, provides weather forecasts, traffic updates, fuel prices – even movie times.

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Chevy Tahoe
Chevrolet Tahoe
is a full-size SUV that offers plenty of space and an estimated at 21 mpg on the highway. Three rows of seating are standard on all models. The second row is available as a three-passenger bench with a 60/40 split or two bucket seats. A good option to have for families. Another nice option, the third row features a 50/50-split design and is removable. A power-assisted second row seat release feature is available on LT.

Technology? How about USB ports, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, OnStar® Directions & Connections®, Rear Vision Camera and Bluetooth® wireless technology for select phones.

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GMC Acadia Denali
The 2013 Acadia Denali comes complete with the latest technology. Innovations like the standard Color Touch radio with IntelliLink, and touch controls make your drive easy.

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There's interior space for 7 or 8 passengers to truly ride in comfort, Acadia Denali is ready to fit you and your family. Standard Denali features include: 

  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel with mahogany wood grain trim
  • Tri-zone climate control
  • Power, heated and cooled front driver and passenger seats
  • Premium Bose® Audio System
  • 8-way power driver and front passenger seat
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Chevy Camaro
So, you can't fit your family in it, but what would a car show be (or a review) without a muscle car?! The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is an "everyday supercar." Motivated by the supercharged LSA small-block V-8 producing 580 horsepower, it is the "fastest, most capable Camaro ever," with performance that includes:

  • 0-60 mph in four seconds
  • Top speed of 184 mph
  • 11-second quarter-mile ETs (11.93 with the automatic / 11.96 with the manual transmission)

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What was the first car you ever owned?

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A Macaroni Dad’s Hanukkah

This is a guest post from Eric Cohen. Eric is the Co-Founder of Macaroni Kid. He lives in Southampton, New York with his wife and two kids. Follow the Chief Dad at Macaroni Kid on Twitter @MacaroniDad. If you are interested in writing for us, send an email.

hanukkah menorahAs a kid, Hanukkah was my favorite holiday. Of course the presents played a big part of it, but what made it really special to me was how for eight nights in a row, my dad was home to share dinner and the festivities. Most of us who are now fathers grew up in a time when dad was the breadwinner and worked long hours, and mom was home with the kids. Family dinners were reserved for Sunday nights.

But Hanukkah was a special time. Work for my dad eased off and he made it a priority to spend time with us. Sometimes we’d take a family vacation. I celebrated Hanukkah under palm trees in the tropics and at a ski lodge in Vermont. My parents would pack the presents, menorah and candles and we’d have Hanukkah “to go”.

With my own kids, I want to ensure that what they remember most is the time we spend together around the holiday, not the new iPod, Barbie or video game. So we have a few traditions of our own that put the emphasis on family.

We do this by “theming” several of the nights of Hanukkah. One night is always “book night” where we exchange books as gifts. Each child gets a book or two, and my wife and I exchange books as presents. This is a nice way to share the gift of reading and remind our kids how important reading is.

Another night of Hanukkah we declare as “sock night” where everyone in the family gets socks. Gym socks, dress socks, ski socks and more have made appearances on sock night. As much as this is something we need, it reminds our kids that not every present has to be about fun and games, and the important thing is being together. We probably laugh more on sock night than any other night.

The next themed night we have is “trip night.” Prior to Hanukkah, my wife and I plan a family trip sometime in the new year, and on trip night we share where we are going with the kids. It’s a way of extending Hanukkah and promising more family memories.

The last themed night and maybe the most important one is “charity night”. On charity night we give the children each a budget and package of information about non-profits that we feel will interest them. Then they pick which one they’d like to donate to. One year, they gave a goat and two chickens to a family in Africa. Last year my son selected Doctors without Borders and my daughter the World Wildlife Fund.

The other four nights are devoted to typical presents and Hanukkah fun. But we have seen that the true joy of Hanukkah is spending time together and celebrating our family.

Question: What's the one thing that makes the holiday season special for you?

Join in and share your most memorable holiday by recording a video, sharing a picture, or posting a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

photo credit: oskay

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