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Things to think about

Reaching into the old grab bag …

• Have you found yourself wanting to do a little extra while decorating your home for Christmas?

If you have, you are not alone.

It seems that one of the results of being forced to endure so much time indoors while we work through the COVID-19 pandemic has been that we are spending a little more and doing a little more to make our homes a little more festive.

According to Statista, a provider of market and consumer data, Americans planned to spend an average of $60 on new decorations this year, which is a significant increase from the average of $41 that was reported for 2010.

That’s an average, remember, and that doesn’t mean some people aren’t going to spend a whole lot and invest a lot of time in decorating. In fact, Modsy, an online interior design company, reports that 69 percent of Americans said they planned to go all out on holiday decorations this year.

Ohio ranks fifth on that list, with 67 percent of those surveyed saying they planned to produce a large display. Pennsylvania and Washington are tied for third at 69 percent, Texas was second at 70 percent and Illinois topped the list at 71 percent.

The survey showed that 93 percent of Americans say it is important that everyone is comfortable, warm and together in their house, and 84 percent said the kitchen is the most important room when it comes to keeping the holidays running smoothly.

In case you were wondering, 31 percent of those surveyed said they would consider a COVID-themed tree and holiday decor.

• Among the many issues that can be tied to the coronavirus pandemic are the ones that affect the economy.

Certain sectors have been hit with such devastating losses that it is likely impossible they will be able to recover. That includes many individuals who find themselves in need during this holiday season. That has put a strain on charitable organizations, as some of those who have helped in the past have now found themselves in need of assistance.

As you might have expected, we are stepping up to meet that increase in demand.

When it comes to the most charitable cities in America, the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul rank at the top, according to a survey conducted by the outdoor services provider LawnStarter. Portland, Ore., is ranked second on the list, with Salt Lake City and Vancouver, Wash., rounding out the top five.

The rankings are based on 12 indicators, including philanthropic behavior and the number of food banks in an area.

It should come as no surprise that our region comes in with fairly high numbers, with Pittsburgh ranked 12th on the list. Looking beyond the Tri-State Area, Cincinnati is 17th, Cleveland is 21st, Columbus is 56th and Akron is 110th.

Coming in at No. 150 — the last spot — on the list is Laredo, Texas.

• There are only a few weeks left in 2020, and most people will be happy to bid it farewell. And while we won’t be able to welcome in the new year with the large gatherings that have become the tradition, we still will be able to celebrate, and Pittsburgh comes in at the 19th best spot in the country to do that.

That’s according to WalletHub, the Washington, D.C.-based personal-finance website, which ranked Virginia Beach, Va., as the top spot for New Year’s Eve, based on a set of criteria that includes safety, COVID-19 cases and quality food delivery options and costs. Cincinnati comes in at 35th, Columbus at 54th and Cleveland at No. 80.

One of the reasons Pittsburgh did not finish higher on the list was the price of wine — the Steel City ranked 90th in the category of wine pricing, which means residents of our area pay a little more than residents of Indianapolis, which has the lowest price for wine.

• Finally, it appears that while we might be driving fewer miles this year, we are being more aggressive when we are behind the wheel.

That’s according to the AAA Foundation for Highway Safety, which reports that nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed anger, aggression or road rage at least once during the past year.

AAA shows that 52 percent of males and 44.6 percent of females said they drove above the speed limit on a freeway in 2019; 37.8 percent of males and 29.3 percent of females said they followed another vehicle closely to prevent another vehicle from merging; 32.2 percent of males and 30 percent of females said they had run a red light; and 35.4 percent of males and 28 percent of females reported they had made a rude gesture or honked at another driver.

“Taking steps like leaving early, being patient and kind and obeying traffic laws will go a long way toward keeping you and your family safe,” explained Theresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs for AAA East Central, which serves the Tri-State Area.

Words to remember as the pace picks up and the countdown continues toward Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

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