Posts Tagged ‘Christmas and holiday season’

BLACK FRIDAY is one crazy, clever retail gimmick.  Get up at 4:00am to push your way into an overheated department store so maybe you can snag what? – the sought-after toy of the moment? REALLY??  The day after Thanksgiving IS the day to go shopping for Christmas presents according to a popular manipulative tradition dreamed up by the retail community.  This day which is orchestrated to create consumer frenzy is a store’s way of making up money lost through the normally slower summer season.  Add the proximity to the Christmas gift-giving holiday and you have the makings of a retail perfect storm.  They hope to end up in the black and you might just end up in the red.

Personally, Black Friday holds no appeal to me and never has.  I haven’t shopped in a Mall for a present or for that matter myself in a very long, long time.  Of course when you live in New York City, going to a mall is not really an option but I stopped shopping for Christmas presents in a mall years ago.  I like to give either really unique personalized gifts or unusual gifts.  I don’t buy sweaters, hats, ties, shirts etc as gifts.  I assume most people buy their own clothes, their own perfume and for the most part their own jewelry.  However,  jewelry is the exception to the rule;  I might purchase a ring, necklace or bracelet for someone but it won’t come from a department store and it probably will be vintage.

Tomorrow, I’m going to Walmart ONLY because it seems to be the ONLY store in my area that carries an item I need, not want but actually need. It’s not a gift, it’s a repair item.  Other than that one foray into a retail store, I hope to avoid the maddening crowds. 

English: DC USA, Target, Black Friday

Target, Black Friday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday to You!

Could it really be forty-one years ago that I drove myself from my home in Avon CT to Hartford for a doctor’s appointment and then to St. Francis Hospital?  Apparently yes, because today is my son Joel’s birthday!  When my parents and grandparents would tell me how quickly the years go by  and at this point they’re flying, I, like every other young person ,didn’t really get it.  Well I get it now.  Joel is 41 and Chiara is 35 and now I’m a grandmother myself.

Last year I wrote what I thought was akin to a mother-son love letter so I’m not going to repeat it again. All of it is true and I hope he reads it again because it is full of love and appreciation for who he is.  Posted last December 17th, Happy Birthday Dear Son!

3000 miles and 3 hours earlier often gets in the way of communication although as any mother knows, if there’s a will, there’s a way.  This Christmas, like last year,  my daughter and her family are headed west to spend the holidays with Joel and we will be here on the East Coast. I think it would be wonderful if we could all be together, however, my feeling is that the kids like it the way it is.  I have a Norman Rockwell Christmas in mind and they are thinking along the lines of what I heard referred to as Westivus.  Apparently, some friends from Boston are also flying out to celebrate with them.

I hope today has been joyful for Joel.  I wrote a Happy Birthday greeting on his Facebook wall – aren’t I just the 21st Century Mom and called him this evening.  I hope to see him in the near future to give him the real hug I sent virtually.

So Happy happy birthday Joel, I love you very much and wish I could spend more time with you.



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I know I should have started this a few days  ago….really!  It was a pretty harrowing week here, with the conjunction of a million spheres all causing chaos.  Mechanical and electrical breakdowns, I must ask my sister-in-law Juanita, if Mercury is in retrograde.    It’s not quite midnight so let’s count this post as December 4th and counting.  For the next 3 weeks I’ll post an inventive, creative holiday idea.  It could be a recipe, a hostess gift, a kid’s gift, a decoration, just about anything that I think might enhance your holiday season.  Today’s idea comes from REAL SIMPLE and is a Mantle Makeover.  We’re all familiar with the usual fireplace mantle decorations.  This is NOT standing rows of Christmas cards, draping a greenery garland, hanging stockings, pine cones and ornaments or Nutcrackers.  Clear away the clutter atop your mantle and give it this very simple makeover.


A Very Berry Christmas Wreath and Votives

A Very Berry Christmas Wreath and Votives


Elegant, sophisticated, simple and beautiful.  Berry wreaths are readily available in stores like Michael’s and flower shops that carry artificial or silk flowers.  Scatter a few berries around and line up some votive candles flanked by pillar candles.  The two-color theme is very powerful and the choice of the raspberry-mauve berry color adds not only a holiday flair but also a winter seasonal flavor

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Friday after Thanksgiving, green day, Christmas shopping

Shopper Mania

Personally I’m not a mall shopper, never have been and certainly never for Christmas!  I like unique, personalized, customized presents or in my case PRESSents which is my own custom-created gift business.  More about that soon.  So when my friend  Gail sent me this video, I thought it would be great to share with my readers in case they had not seen it.

I love IMPROV EVERYWHERE and have a secret (well not so secret) desire to perform in one of their events.  Come to think of it I could have been in this one!  Check it out, you’ll be smiling in no time.

Black Friday Prank at a Dollar Store



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Just kidding of course!  New Yorkers have already started celebrating the holiday season!  Millions of white lights are being strung on trees, the ice rink is open in Bryant Park as well as Rockefeller Center, the Christmas Fair booths are opening around the City and Cartier has already wrapped their store on Fifth Avenue in a glowing red ribbon!    The kids and the not-s0-small kids are out cavorting around on the ice, kidding around so to speak.

“Ready or not here I come”

“I can do this”



“What’s that”?

“Look at me”

” I don’t wanna”!

All photos courtesy of Murray Head

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Decorating your home for the holidays is usually an annual tradition and one that often sticks to the same theme year after year.  While tradition holds a sacred place during the Christmas season, every now and then, a new idea comes along and this is one you might want to incorporate into your holiday decorating scheme.  Kitchens often get overlooked in the holiday decor, so this sweet treat idea would look terrific on a window sill or on a counter.

Fill a few glasses of varying size and shape with sugar and mini-marshmallows, add some peppermint sticks and you have a 5 minute decorating idea that is sure to evoke some sweet comments.

candy canes, peppermint sticks, mini marshmallows, sugar, glasses

Sweet Sensations

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February is about to end and this being the last Thursday of the month brings our MOST ROMANTIC movies list to an end.  I have 10 more movies to list and a bonus film, strongly suggested to me by my nephew, Justin.

  1. How Stella Got Her Groove Back Again (1998) – Well, one way to get your groove back is to groove with a hunky, good-looking stud 20 years younger than yourself.  Taye  Diggs  Bassett won a NAACP Image award for her performance.
  2. Bridget Jone’s Diary (2001) – Rene Zellweiger won this Brit part over two Brittish actresses: Emily Watson and Helen Bonham Carter. AND she gained 25 pounds and earned a Best Actress nomination.
  3. Shrek (2001) – He doesn’t want to get involved and she’s not happy that he’s green and ugly. Howver, the wannabe Princess is really an ogre herself so in the end, all’s well and they live happily ever after to the tune  of hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office.
  4. Love Actually (2003) – This is one of my all-time favorite movies;  Peter and I watch it every Christmas holiday season.  We laugh and always cry over Emma Thompson’s pain caused by her husband’s interest in a sexy co-worker. There are TEN different love stories unfolding in this romantic comedy. I LOVE Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy is hysterical, Colin Firth is sincerely endearing and who doesn’t love Liam?
  5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) – Jim Carey and Kate Wynslet in this romance/sci-fi movie. Charlie Kaufman won an Academy Award for his original screenplay.  Sometimes you need an outside force to discover what you knew all along.
  6. The Notebook (2004) – This is an epic love story based on the beloved best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks.  Rich girl falls for poor boy, they are separated by WWII and ultimately find each other again seven years later.  Ryan Gossling and Rachel MacAdams
  7. Pride and Prejudice (2005) – A classic romance based on a classic- Jane Austen‘s novel of the same title.  Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfayden prove that infatuation beats out social obstacles.
  8. Brokeback Mountain (2005) – This Western was one of the first to feature a love affair between two men. Critically acclaimed around the world, winning many awards at festivals and nominated for Best Picture, starring Heath Leger and Jake Gyllenhaal.
  9. Twilight (2008) – The vampire romance that captured the hearts of teens and adultsarlts around the world.  Girl meets boy, boy is a vampire – Kristen Stewart and Robert  Pattinson heat up the screen on and off.
  10. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) – Another romance  on and off the screen, Freida Pinto and Dv Patel quickly discover the intense chemistry between them. The movie won Best Picture and seven other Oscars.
  11. BONUS! Rocky (1976) – Small time boxer gets a once-in-a-lifetime chance to fight the heavyweight champ and along the way falls in love with his manager’s sister.  Everyone who has seen it knows the line, “Yo, Adrian” – but the most important lines in the movie are the last two;Rocky,”Where’s your hat”?  (Rocky has just won the championship but is mostly concerned with taking care of Adrian),then ” I love you”!, “No, I love you”!

    Sylvester Stallone,Rocky Balboa, Adrianne

    Yo Adrian!

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Welcome to my house! That’s what the luminaries are supposed to convey to the world.  In true Roman Catholic tradition these luminarias were lit along the pathway to a home in hopes that the lights would guide the spirit of the Christ Child to one’s home.  Tonight we welcomed our friends into our home to share the spirit of Christmas with us and what a fine time we had.  We ate a lot, drank a lot of champagne, and  laughed a lot.

Christmas night, luminarias, Ocean Grove



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Cover of "The Bells of St. Mary's"

Cover of The Bells of St. Mary's

It was two days before Thanksgiving and the Christmas decorations were out in K-Mart and from that point on it’s been Christmas season unplugged!  I can remember when holiday music was played on the radio every day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, but I think it got out of control when The Chipmunk Song was on the air every 30 minutes.  I don’t think I’ve heard any holiday songs on the radio BUT every store and shop has either music or muzak playing  so we are not entirely bereft of the sounds of the season!  Not so in the movie department.  Where are all the old Christmas movies?  Even TCM, the guardian of the classics hasn’t been featuring any oldies.   Perhaps next week during the countdown till Christmas.

Well, all this chatter has been leading to the question: What is your favorite holiday movie?  I can’t wait to hear from you  – is Charlie Brown’s Christmas or The Christmas Story?  Are you partial to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or does Frosty the Snowman warm your heart?  The Little Drummer Boy?

I love the old classics and could and do watch Miracle on 34th Street and It’s A Wonderful Life whenever they are being shown.  I like these movies because they are full of the emotions and feelings we all hope and believe are part of this season.  These movies make me cry… I used to wait every year for Christmas Eve because that’s when I would be able to watch The Bells of St. Mary’s, now there’s a tear-jerker and plus you get to hear Bing Crosby croon!!!

But my favorite?  Ahhhh,  I’ve saved the best for last – The Bishop’s Wife!  NOT the new version (which I never saw), I’m talking about the original version with the fabulous trio of Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven.  Omg this movie is the BEST Christmas movie!  First of all you get Cary Grant as an angel!! Can you stand it? He’s so gorgeous to begin with and now he plays the role of an angel, dear lord, it’s great.  And you have the angelic face of Loretta Young as the wife of the beleaguered bishop who is played by David Niven.  Perfect casting in a perfect story.  I don’t want to give away the plot or the story line because IF you can find it on TV or rent it from NetFlix, you should.   Such a sweet treat for Christmas!

Ok, so what’s yours? Please share your favorite holiday movie with us and tell us why (or not).


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New York City is fun at any time of the year (but you already knew that) – However at Christmastime there is an energy that vibrates through the month of December.  Well actually  I think it starts at Thanksgiving.  The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade marks the beginning of the Holiday Season here in Manhattan; Heralding the season from Herald Square!  So now it has begun and the streets are really crowded with shoppers carrying the colorful store brand  bags.  Workers that usually eat at their desks are dashing out to shop during lunch hours, tourists are everywhere in Midtown and stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to take pictures. And why are they all here? Because New York City is a great place to be at this time of year.

You can:

  1. Visit Rockefeller Center and see the magnificent tree and watch the ice skaters too.
  2. Drop by Grand Central Terminal to see the Holiday Light Show that is beamed on the recently re-stored ceiling.  And you can shop there too – besides the stores there is also a Christmas marketplace.
  3. Attend a performance of The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, it’s a holiday classic.
  4. But nothing is more classic than going to Radio City Music Hall and seeing the Rockettes! The Christmas Spectacular is a lovely wonderful tradition.  I ought to know because my grandmother used to take me when I was young, then I took Chiara during her childhood and this year Finley Ray went.  She is still a bit young for the Rockettes but the effects, the lights, and of course Santa Claus were not lost on her.
  5. Walk along Fifth Avenue and window shop or rather window-look at the dramatic and fantastic holiday window displays at Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks and Barney’s.
  6. Stroll along Fifth Avenue in the evening and see the giant snowflake suspended above your head like a star.  And then walk past Cartier’s where the whole building is wrapped with a red ribbon and bow.
  7. Visit the Metropolitan Museum and behold the most beautiful Baroque Neapolitan Christmas tree.  The manger scene surrounds the base and is just magnificent.
  8. Take a break at Serendipity’s and drinks some Frozen Hot Chocolate.
  9. There are Christmas markets throughout the City, not as spectacular as those in Germany but they are here.  Check out Union Square, Columbus Circle and Bryant Park for a wide selection of craft items, art, outerwear and gifts of all sizes for all ages.
  10. In the lower level of the Citicorp Building, there is annual free model train display that you will marvel at several vintage sets run all through a staged country and city setting.  The Transit Museum also displays vintage trains in their shop in Grand Central Terminal.

BONUS IDEA – Buy some hot roasted chestnuts from a street vendor that’s New York!

*** There’s an UPDATED 2012 list available  at Top Ten Things To Do In New York City During Christmastime UPDATED!

Christmas tree, Rockefeller Center

Bright Lights-City Lights

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