holidays, life lessons

A FREE SUNDAY

Flat out and over scheduled this past week, but also an inner joie de vie with the holiday excitement that only this time of year invites. I don’t celebrate Christmas in the traditional sense, partly because I am Jewish, partly because the mass consumerism of it all is overwhelming. I have great memories of Christmas, though because even though my mother converted to Judaism, my brother and I got to go to our still Catholic grandmother’s house in Boston and celebrate a proper Boston Christmas. We never grew up with Christmas tree in our childhood home, but we did get to have a Christmas experience. 

i still love to follow traditionand bake holiday cookies with my aunt

I love Christmas. 

Our holidays were spent in Boston with our grandparents and our two aunts. My brother and I would usually go up a few days early and stay over helping our grandmother decorate the tree. My aunts would take us in our Aunt Peggy’s baby blue, barely any heat, Volkswagen bug driving Commonwealth Avenue to look at the way the homes were decorated. 

It was Magic. 

If I close my eyes, I can smell my grandmother’s house, filled with the buttery scents of homemade rolls, Christmas cookies, and everything Julia Child, my Grandmother’s go to director in the kitchen. I can smell the morning coffee and morning brunch my brother and I were forced to endure before we could open any presents. I can even smell the cigarettes that everyone smoked while this was going on and for some reason this doesn’t even bother my memories.

Going to Boston for Christmas in the 1970’s also meant Christmas shopping. Filenes, Shreve Crump and Low, Newberry Street, Lord and Taylor’s. It also meant shopping in some of the lovely little stores in downtown Wellesley, Mass and finding time to get to The Wayside Inn for a traditional family lunch in Sudbury, Mass. 

If it sounds like this little Jewish chick has the irony of the warmest and tenderest Christmas memories, I do. What I mean by not celebrating Christmas now is the gift factor. I love the energy the holiday delivers, the lights, the mayhem, the frenzy, but the vast consumerism that kicks in and makes people spend inordinate amounts of money is what I shy away from. The only person I buy anything for is my son and I buy Hanukkah presents for him. 

I have a friend who is from a large Portuguese family and the shopping, wrapping and chaos starts from what seems like the day after Thanksgiving. I have listened to her hilarious shopping stories since I met her almost twenty years ago. She is my go to comedian for all Christmas stories of what can go wrong during the holiday season, but so much of what can go right. 

Her family is the wacky type of family I never had. Picture My Big Fat Greek Wedding and substitute the word Portuguese.  I, in turn, am the Wasp substitute Jewish, family represented. I love her family and the stories she shares in who forgot who, who didn’t show up at a party, who didn’t call, and of course all of the goodness too that comes from this zesty family. 

The gift giving is fun to watch, though. So I enjoy going to the mall and watching, like a voyeur, and listening, like a spy, to the endless conversations between complete strangers about what they should be buying for what family members. They usually sound a bit breathless and tired, but never seem to question the auto pilot that Christmas steers everyone towards. I am a curious bystander with the glorious position of not having to buy for anyone so the sense of urgency is non existent. It is freedom. 

I found myself on Saturday night headed to bed thinking about my past week and realized that the following Sunday, yesterday, would be my last Sunday before Christmas since I always work the Sunday before the holiday. I was supposed to go to the movies, but asked my partner if he minded if I took the day alone and headed to Garden City to be with the masses. He had a brief look in his eyes that said, “Who are you and what happened to Alayne?” But he knows me well by now and there are likely daily surprises that come his way from my brain.

We parted ways and off I went. Cash in hand, with no real plan, excited to take an entire day to wander aimlessly with the only conversation the one in my head. Somehow I managed to find a parking spot immediately, no easy task at noon on the second to the last Sunday before Christmas. I got out of my car and began going to the parade of stores before me. I tried to avoid the stores that would make me shop for me, Lululemon, Athleta, Anthropologie and aim for the ones I might find some things for my son or my partner’s son. 

There wasn’t a place that didn’t look ramshackled. I felt a little saddened by this because in the old days of shopping before everything became an Instagram photo, store managers would never allow shelves to look the way they looked yesterday. Clothes strewn all over the place like we were at Filene’s Basement during a sixty percent off sale. I also realize, however, that the unemployment rate is the lowest and to staff these places with the hours they keep must be a feat to lose sleep over these days. 

The sales people were lovely, though, in every store I went to, helpful, smiling, kind and this warmed my heart. Old school sales people, mostly my age. This was interesting to me because usually I find young inexperienced people wandering the floor. 

At Banana Republic, they were virtually giving the store away. I use the word, virtually, literally because as I headed to a podlike dressing room, I noticed right away it was equipped with an iPad on the wall. The dressing room that was the size of a closet, but seemed like some type of small spaceship with atrocious lighting with an iPad. Maybe it was so I could order whatever I was trying on if the size wasn’t right. I really don’t know since there were no directions with it. And now that I am writing this, it occurs to me that iPads have cameras on them so now I am completely freaked out thinking that my changing room experience could have been captured like some Orwellian novel.  I am glad I didn’t think of this yesterday. 

I sighed. Is there no escaping technology and mass consumerism in the privacy of a dressing room? Has the entire world turned into one big Instagram photo op? The fact that I didn’t understand the point of the iPad in the changing room was in itself revealing. Banana Republic, like mostly every other store in Garden City, was not interested in the fifty five year old consumer that stood naked in between a mirror and an iPad I didn’t understand. They didn’t need to explain to me why it was there because I am not their market. I am really not anyone’s market, other than pharmaceutical commercials, it seems anymore as I made my way through the Gap, some store called Fatface, J Crew and even Chipotle to buy a gift card. 

The whole day yesterday reminded me that I am refreshingly irrelevant to these stores. It was a wonderful reminder of a chapter that is closing for me. Mass consumerism is not part of my world anymore. I am in the phase of getting rid of stuff, not obtaining stuff. 

I loved my day yesterday because if I got to a counter and there were more than three people waiting to check out, I left my choices and left the store. These stores don’t seem to care if you shop online or shop in store. I was looking for a holiday experience and it just really wasn’t there. I can see why so many consumers shop from the comfort of their own home; it really is so much easier, but there is a cost to this. You don’t get to have these life nuggets showing you where you are in your world. You don’t get to hear the conversations, see the men waiting on benches as their wives shop, traditionally. You don’t get to hear the bands playing outside and see the sparkly holiday lights decorating the stores. All of these sensory experiences are creating the stories and the stories are what we remember in our future selves. 

The children of today are not going to have memories of anything but their parents sitting with their face down in their cell phones hitting the order now button from wherever they are sitting and the UPS truck bearing gifts like Santa with his sleigh of reindeer. I don’t know why this bums me out, but it does.

With the world that we find ourselves in as one big virtual experience, I worry that we won’t know the difference between what is real anymore. My real will be different than my future grandchildren’s real. Maybe there will be a rennaisance and shopping at actual stores if they still exist will be a cool retro experience for our future consumers. I can only hope and dream.

I don’t know, but as I get ready to leave a roller coaster of a decade behind and head into a decade aptly named 2020, I have hope that the future will bring real authentic life experiences like I had as a child. Experiences that are real, not manufactured, I will continue to have for the remaining years I have left on this strange planet I rent my lifespace on. 

Happy Holidays to all of you real shoppers out there. Thank you for keeping the hope alive. 

self love, WOMEN'S HEALTH

“FORGETTING MY PHONE”

Hands full. Trying to open the car door with my hip propped against the outside of the car, trying to finagle the purse, the pie, the shoes I was bringing with me to replace the snow boots I was wearing, the bag of Pyrex bowls to give to my aunt- all because I didn’t want to make “two trips.”

Two trips means back up to the second floor, up thirteen stairs to where I live in my old 1965 historic home. I was already running late to pick up my friend and I still had to get to the bank which I had already determined in my overcharged brain that I would do after I picked her up. That breathless running is something I don’t like getting myself into, but for some reason today I was in the midst of it trying to squeeze more into my morning than was reasonable. Sometimes this is typical of my personality.

My dear friend, Karen and I were headed to my favorite holiday place, The Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts to have a pre Christmas lunch with my most favorite aunt. After lunch we were headed to another favorite, Russells Garden Center, a magical garden and gift center since 1876 in Wayland, Mass where real Christmas shopping lives in that old fashioned way I grew up with.

Though we weren’t wearing Christmas sweaters, the day had the feeling like everyone you may encounter would; the weather had that crisp December bite. Little did we know that a light lovely New England snow dusting would just begin as we were eating lunch. We would soon be encountering a day of absolute perfection, but we didn’t know any of this yet because I was running late to pick Karen up.

As I finally settled down in the driver’s seat of my car getting ready for take off, taking a necessary deep calming breath, I realized that I hadn’t seen my phone in the last ten minutes. I checked my coat pockets- nope. I felt the outside of my small black zippered purse- a second nope. I felt in the inner left side of my car door where I often absently place it, not there either. I looked at the clock on the car dashboard, 9:16. I had already let Karen know I would be there at 9:20 instead of 9:00.

Fuck it. Did I really need my phone today? There was that brief moment where I felt the absurdity in questioning it knowing that many of my friends, employees, family couldn’t imagine even questioning its absence. They would have gone on auto pilot and blasted back upstairs for it. But I am always struggling with the power I have let this silly little device have in my life. Sometimes I find myself longing for the rotary.

I seem to be in a perpetual state of concern over how much time I spend looking things up, checking my email, responding to texting, scrolling, checking facebook messages from clients and friends, seeing responses to my recent posts, not to mention returning calls because this is actually the idea of a phone. At least it used to be. I am wondering when the phone part of the phone will become an old relic of yesteryear as I write about all of its other functions these days.

Back to the question. Did I really need my phone today? Besides the questions that started to dart. But you own a business! What if your son needs you! What if something happens to your grandfather! What if! What if! What if! So I did what my rebel rousing self usually does. I said, Fuck it. And drove away sans phone and felt free instead of the heart racing panic one would assume. Freedom. Calm. Released truly from work and responsibilities for the next twelve hours. It wasn’t even that hard to do this.

I had a few moments at lunch where I thought, My phone must be blowing up right now. I imagined the amount of work I would have to face when I got home in responding to the various forms of communications, but the thoughts left as quickly as they entered. The reality that I created in this choice was that there was nothing I could do about it anyway.

I couldn’t take my phone out of my purse at lunch and take it with me to the bathroom to do a quick check and reply. I couldn’t pull it out to take photos that would likely end up sitting in my phone anyway like a Barbie never taken out of a box. I couldn’t show a photo from another time to my friends at lunch. I wasn’t able to pull it out to look up the definition of a word or a place that came up in our conversation. My aunt and friend had theirs to do all of that on and yet neither brought theirs out for the entire lunch or at our visit to Russells.

The holidays go by so fast. There is a lot of rushing and shopping. There is a different buzz in the air this time of year and I don’t even celebrate the holidays in the traditional way. Yet I enjoy them immensely. I enjoy walking in the evening and looking at the lights in our town and the decorations in the windows. I love Christmas music and putting lights in my windows. I’m the weird Jewish girl who loves the energy of Christmas, I love being a voyeur standing on the sidelines and taking it all in and watching it fly by as fast as a speed train.

“Forgetting” my phone was probably one of the best gifts I could give myself as it allowed me to be present to the presence of the day yesterday. I was present to my friend and my aunt’s conversations because there were no technical distractions that would otherwise have removed me from the experience. My life feels like it is accelerating at time warp speed and it is almost like I need to force myself to come up with alternative ways to be deliberate about putting a break to it. I see myself one day not even having a phone. Apple gives me my summary of how much screentime I have used and it is appalling to me how much time it adds up to.

No wonder people feel like they don’t have any spare time these days. But I am not here to preach, just share my day with anyone who cares to read and maybe this piece will give you an idea to try. The funny thing about the experience was that I did use my friend’s phone when we realized our sixty mile return trip would be taking us three hours last night.

If she hadn’t had it, though, I wouldn’t have had it to use and I know that would have been just fine too. There was no sense of urgency, but more courtesy to let my partner know my whereabouts and to check on my son. That could have easily waited. And surprisingly when I did finally walk through the doors of my home, I didn’t rush to my phone to check it, actually I was bummed that my phone vacay was over. When I finally did, there were approximately seven text messages. I returned them in five minutes, called my aunt to let her know we arrived safe and sound, put the phone away and turned on some Christmas movies, a perfect end to a more perfect day.
Who needs Santa for gifts after this glorious and intentional gift I gave to myself? I can’t wait to forget my phone again.

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MY FAVORITE THINGS

MY FAVORITE THINGS

Last year I wrote about my favorite places to shop around town and that hasn’t changed. Bristol has some really lovely places as do many places in Rhode Island and as shopping in actual stores becomes more of what seems like a vintage pastime, I wanted to write again about some of my favorite things to do around the holidays. Maybe it will inspire anyone reading this to take some time before the actual holiday to enjoy the time leading up to the big day.

Without being redundant I will write briefly of some top favorite places to peruse, but I will add some different things in the mix as well as places I love to visit this time of year. My Aunt and I have a tradition for my whole life and now my son’s life too, to go to THE WAYSIDE INN in Sudbury, Mass for lunch. The oldest working inn in the country it really is the feeling of over the river and through the woods (once you drive by the massive Whole Foods and Range Rover car dealers that have taken over what was a lovely country road). This inn is a flashback in time and it has a history worthy of a special drive. It is the quintessential place that generations of families go to for their “special” place. When I go there with my aunt and my son, I am transported to a time where people got dressed up to go to lunch and drink toddies by a warm fire. If Sudbury doesn’t speak to you during this busy time, then THE LOBSTER POT in Bristol fits the bill too. Delicious food in a spectacular water view setting make this a place too that families go for the special occasions.

There are some fabulous shops in our state to visit this time of year. Grasmere on Franklin St., Jackie’s Loft on the corner of Franklin and Thames in Bristol, Harbor Bath and Body on Thames St. Kate and Company and Epilogues and Paper Packaging and Panache especially if you are trying to teach your kids to actually write a real thank you note with an actual pen and paper, (fingers crossed) on Hope St also in Bristol to name a few of my personal loves. There is a great new shop that opened on State St. too, The Sand Dollar. Of course if you are a vintage shopper, Second Helpings on Gooding Ave always satisfies. In Bristol even though it is an easy grid, one must really know that the shops are spread out and it takes a little extra walking to hit them all. But if you are patient, starting where Hope Diner is and walking down Hope St as far down as Constitution St, you can weave up and down each street all the way back to Franklin and you will cover the whole of shopping in the downtown area. You can even walk up to Wood St. (Wood St. Bakery for the yummiest of calzones, Azorean Butcher Shop for a little Sao Miguel, Common Pub for delicious Portuguese dinners ) crossing over High St. (C and R Mercantile and Roxies) and you will get a nice walk in as well as coming across some out of the way little shops and food places worthy of your extra time.

If you make your way to Providence, RI then Hope St. is loaded with some quaint shops that are worth a day of poking around even on the coldest of Saturdays. Stock, an elegant kitchen shop, Frog and Toad with such a wonderful variety of goodies you could spend hours looking around. Then there are shops I can’t remember the name of, but love walking in and out of simply because they are all next door to each other and it is so easy to window shop. Unlimited lunch and dinner places as well make for a nice day out with your daughter, best friend, aunt or mom. Another out of the way place that is really special is Simple Pleasures at 6 Richmond St. in Providence. They have beautiful items merchandised in a way that makes me drool.

I like to stay away from the big box stores during this time of year and really capture the essence of small businesses who spend a lot of their time thinking and planning for this very short month hoping that the business will sustain them so they can stay in business. Small businesses are taking a big hit from the discounts offered in the big stores as well as the hard to pass up ease and convenience of ordering in your jammies at three am. Shopping locally and in these small businesses takes a conscious effort, but it is so nice to get out, park your car, bundle up and walk in and out of these stores. Talking to the owners, getting to know your community, showing your kids that shopping is so much more than the simple click of a button ensures for a thriving downtown. Empty storefronts do nothing for our home values and a little concerted effort even if you have finished your shopping goes a long way with these hard working store owners. Store owners are asked daily for donations for our schools, sporting organizations, churches and synagogues and charities. We ask a lot of them in our little towns and this of all the times of the year is the time to give back to them by making a little extra effort to shop in them.

I never thought I would look at actual shopping as a vintage approach to virtual shopping. I never thought I would actually think there would be something called virtual shopping, but it is clearly here to stay. Like writing on a typewriter instead of your laptop, it takes a bit of conscious intent, it takes a bit of planning, of calling your aunt or your mom and saying, Let’s make time for each other before December 25th. Let’s enjoy each other. If not now, when?

This is an excerpt from an essay Steve Jobs wrote before he died.

“Therefore, I hope you realize, when you have mates, buddies and old friends, brothers and sisters, who you chat with, laugh with, talk with, have sing songs with, talk about north-south-east-west or heaven and earth, that is true happiness! Don’t educate your children to be rich. Educate them to be happy. So when they grow up they will know the value of things and not the price. Eat your food as your medicine, otherwise you have to eat medicine as your food. The One who loves you will never leave you for another because, even if there are 100 reasons to give up, he or she will find a reason to hold on. There is a big difference between a human being and being human. Only a few really understand it. You are loved when you are born. You will be loved when you die. In between, you have to manage! The six best doctors in the world are sunlight, rest, exercise, diet, self-confidence and Friends. Maintain them in all stages and enjoy a healthy life.”



making time is what the holidays are about, this pic with the flowers in my hair is taken at the WaySIDE INN with my brother when he was about 4.







family, friends making more time, because we never know when they are going to leave us. March forth and enjoy your tribe.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS INDEED

There is nothing more glorious then a perfect Sunday, even more so when it is one of those neat near to last Sundays of the year and there is nothing planned except what I have chosen for my day. Even better is the morning after a successful dinner party where friends are together and everything just feels right, conversations, energy, music, candlelight, and of course wine, food and dessert. There is that rhythm of a good evening that despite your intentions and your efforts in planning a great outcome, the energy is not a guarantee and it takes the momentum of the evening to see if your efforts end with the ideas you had. This is hard to plan, but when everything is in sync, there is magic.

I have spoken about a chosen tribe because I don’t have too much family around and this group is a combination who show up. We greatly enjoy each other’s company on many layers of levels. There is a comfort and ease between us as we volley discussions back and forth in varieties of duets and trios throughout the evening and feel grateful for the dialogue and the respite during an otherwise maddening rush during the busiest of holiday weeks.

In addition to my son and my partner, these people are my family and there were only a few people missing from the night that would have wholeheartedly represented a full display. As the evening progressed, I could feel the lessening of the busy-ness. No one pulled out a phone or snapped pictures to post real time on Facebook and it wasn’t because anyone created a contrived ban. It was because each of us were perfectly present to one another and there was simply no need to capture for later. Later was now; we all just leaned in to each others love. As the women took over the cleaning up of the first round of Hanukkah dishes, I observed the comfort between us as their hands and my sponges washed the old china and silver handed down from my great grandmothers. I got to hear the clanging of the silverware and the dishes as they were gently placed into the dishwasher and listen to the dialogue that happens so typically between women in the kitchen as they jump in to help the hostess. There is a velvet intimacy to this and there is something old fashioned and comforting too. As the dishes were cleaned, and the next course began its grand entrance, there was that feeling that washed over my home. I can’t describe this, but every time I have a successful get together, there is a profound energy shift that occurs in my space. It is a sense of grounding and peace, almost like a trail of every one’s heart and love placed in the air pockets of my home. Like the way your skin smells after you have been at the beach on the first summer day. I can feel the weight of it and it is the rarest of beauty; it lifts me especially after everyone leaves and the kitchen is put away and put back to the way it was before the get together. Of course it may be put back physically, but there is a spiritual charge in the air that has changed my space and this is what I clung to yesterday as I listened to Pandora’s selection of smooth jazz all day belting out Grover Washington, Sade and Boney James. Candle light everywhere, leftovers in the oven, heat cranking on this freezing cold December New England day and the little holiday lights in the windows I love in my old 1865 home. I want to duplicate the essence that was Saturday evening and hang on to it as long as possible. There is nothing like the vibration of the holidays and the entire season.

I witness the holidays every year from my perch of being Jewish. My mother’s family was Catholic and though my mother converted to Judaism, my brother and I always got to celebrate Christmas when we were little at my grandmother’s house in Boston. Though we never celebrated it in our own home, the flavor of the holiday sits with me because of some of these memories. When Michael was about Kindergarten age, he would, like children do, come on my errands with me. In this very small mostly Christian town we reside in, I would often run into my Portuguese friend’s aunts and mothers and with their thick accents they would innocently ask “Michael, what is Santa going to bring you this Christmas?” Michael learned early on that with this common question his reply would have to be kind and patient. “ We don’t celebrate Christmas, we’re Jewish.” Silence. Then the look followed by the clicking of the tongue, as I became the recipient of their judgment. “Ohh, poor thing.” Yes they would say this aloud, like I was deliberately keeping Santa from our chimney trying to be some scrooge for not celebrating the holiday with vats of gifts and trinkets.

My former mother in law used to ask me, “When is your Christmas?” around this time of year. When it was Passover time, she would ask, “Alayne, when is your Easter?” There were a few times when I would feel impatient with these questions as they felt provincial and after being married to her son for twenty years, I would occasionally feel like are you seriously asking me this again? But with the wisdom that hindsight often provides in fine tuning your vision, I understood her simplicity, it was her way of trying to understand differences and to figure out a way to connect with me as she tried to wrap her head around that her first born grandson would not be raised with a Christmas tree or an Easter bunny as his narratives to describe winter and springtime. Never mind the discussion we had to have when she realized that we wouldn’t be christening him either, but rather be having a bris for her grandson. I remember her saying, trying to be innocent in the question, “Maybe you could just have the christening so you can get the gifts that people will be bringing.” I knew even back then at 34 that this was her way of feeling like he was not going to be securing a place in her version of heaven if a christening wouldn’t be taking place and trying to tempt me with the lure of gifts. Needless to say, I didn’t take the bait. Just like I try to teach my team the fact that not every single person in the planet celebrates Christmas and not saying Merry Christmas has nothing at all to do with political correctness but more an intelligence that shows a more worldly view of our human makeup.

When my son was little in elementary school, the school would always put up a Christmas tree in the hallway. They would teach the kids Christmas carols, but because schools in their infinite wisdom weren’t allowed to incorporate anything religious, they would only teach Santa songs. This drove me crazy. Last I checked, Christmas is about Jesus not Santa and my comments were often more about if you are going to teach my Jewish son inadvertently about Christmas, at least teach him the real story. If you are going to put up a Christmas tree, at least put up a menorah and have the discussion about the differences. We need more discussions about the differences. I’d rather have my son learn about Jesus and his role in our history. I mean isn’t this the point of the holiday? Jesus? Actually to be totally truthful, I am from the school of thought of having no decorations in public school, but these days, our public schools need all the love they can get. Teaching these days has turned into some of our most vulnerable professions. So bring on the light and the Christmas pageants and the Santa visits. Who cares, we need as much holiday cheer as possible. Ironically we sent Michael to a Catholic high school because I like the spiritual essence as a line leader in the high school day. We need the spiritual wherever we can get it.

I love the words Merry Christmas, I love Christmas actually, just like the energy that was sprinkled in my house from my family of friends this past Saturday evening, Christmas has a unique quality to it that brings out the shininess in people’s hearts. I also like consideration of other peoples’ belief systems. This is why I think sometimes the Merry Christmas greeting has taken on a life of its own. “Merry Christmas,” a beautiful and happy phrase sometimes has an almost confrontational feeling to it when some people say it these days, but I never care. I refuse to buy into feeling offended, but I will say I do like to remind people that not everyone we come into contact with celebrates the holiday with the same vigor they might. America is a blend of religions and beliefs and though it may seem to the eye that everyone participates in Santa’s world, there are so many who don’t because they are not that religion.

I had a friend who was very religious but hardly ever spoke of her beliefs. She used to say that she was very secure with her own beliefs in her religion that she didn’t feel the need to espouse them in others and expected the same from other. I think the phrase Merry Christmas and Christmas in general as become politicized in the past twenty years and it unfortunate. There is a saying in Alanon that says something like take what you need and leave the rest. I kind of wish we could apply this to all things holiday and religious. I am not offended by the phrase ‘Merry Christmas,’ however I do enjoy the conversation to broaden viewpoints because of the assumption that everyone celebrates it. Can we consider that if you say Merry Christmas to me would be like me saying Happy Hanukkah to you? Kind of odd, but the fact of either phrase is the intent, right? I actually never care if anyone says it to me one because I am totally secure in my own religion. I also know when I say Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukkah, or Happy Holidays, my intention is to spread the cheer and light of the holiday season. I am not trying to make some point that undermines the whole purpose of the greeting. I just like the excuse to share some love and warmth and all greetings that intend this are fine by me.

So to all out there Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Happy Kwanza, Happy Fesitvus with the rest of us. May your last crazy week before this lovely almost final day of the year be filled with delight and family. To me this is the point of it all- the excuse even for a short time to love thy neighbor and to be loved back.




Hanukkah and December birthday parties of yesteryear and of course Mister Frankster, RIP, who came to us during Christmas time one year and taught me daily about life and loving.